Two moms, one family

Two moms, one family

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Eight-year-old Ava and her 4-year-old brother Jaidon have two moms: Theresa Volpe (second left) is “mommy” and Mercedes Santos (second right) is “mama”.

Theresa and Mercedes have been together for over 20 years. In 2002 they decided to find an anonymous sperm donor so they could have children, and in 2011 they were united by a civil union. Now they are fighting to get same-sex marriage passed into law in Illinois.

. SPRINGFIELD, United States. REUTERS/Jim Young

Mercedes (right) hugs Theresa as they celebrate after the Senate Executive Committee in Illinois voted in January to send a bill legalising gay marriage to a full vote in the state Senate.

Supporters had hoped the bill would sail through the Democratic-majority legislature that same month, making Illinois the tenth state in the nation to approve same-sex marriage.

But it took until Valentine's Day to go through the Senate and was still several votes short in the House by late March.

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Slideshow

Theresa (centre) puts her hand on her son Jaidon's head as she walks with her partner Mercedes (right) to attend a Senate Executive Committee hearing on same-sex marriage in Illinois.
. SPRINGFIELD, United States. REUTERS/Jim Young

Theresa (centre) puts her hand on her son Jaidon's head as she walks with her partner Mercedes (right) to attend a Senate Executive Committee hearing on same-sex marriage in Illinois.

The couple sits with Jaidon and Ava before the committee hearing begins. They became particularly outspoken advocates for gay marriage after Jaidon was hospitalised two years ago and Theresa was told she could not be with him in the intensive care unit because there was no hospital policy for two mothers.
. SPRINGFIELD, United States. REUTERS/Jim Young

The couple sits with Jaidon and Ava before the committee hearing begins. They became particularly outspoken advocates for gay marriage after Jaidon was hospitalised two years ago and Theresa was told she could not be with him in the intensive care unit because there was no hospital policy for two mothers.

Theresa holds her daughter at the hearing, where she and her partner testified. The couple believes marriage will be easier to explain to people at hospitals and other facilities than the civil union they formed in 2011, after this option was legalised in Illinois.
. SPRINGFIELD, United States. REUTERS/Jim Young

Theresa holds her daughter at the hearing, where she and her partner testified. The couple believes marriage will be easier to explain to people at hospitals and other facilities than the civil union they formed in 2011, after this option was legalised in Illinois.

The couple lay their hands on a chair as they wait for the start of the hearing. They want the federal rights heterosexual couples have, including Social Security benefits and tax exemptions for a surviving spouse's inheritance.
. SPRINGFIELD, United States. REUTERS/Jim Young

The couple lay their hands on a chair as they wait for the start of the hearing. They want the federal rights heterosexual couples have, including Social Security benefits and tax exemptions for a surviving spouse's inheritance.

Theresa testifies before the committee at the State Legislature in Springfield, Illinois.
. SPRINGFIELD, United States. REUTERS/Jim Young

Theresa testifies before the committee at the State Legislature in Springfield, Illinois.

Mercedes gives Theresa a hug after the committee voted to send same-sex marriage legislation to the floor of the state Senate. "This is a great feeling; we feel it's about time," said Theresa after the January vote.
. SPRINGFIELD, United States. REUTERS/Jim Young

Mercedes gives Theresa a hug after the committee voted to send same-sex marriage legislation to the floor of the state Senate. "This is a great feeling; we feel it's about time," said Theresa after the January vote.

A Valentine's card from Jaidon to his two mothers and his sister is held out at school.
. WILMETTE, United States. REUTERS/Jim Young

A Valentine's card from Jaidon to his two mothers and his sister is held out at school.

Theresa helps Jaidon and Ava make cookies at their home in Chicago.
. CHICAGO, United States. REUTERS/Jim Young

Theresa helps Jaidon and Ava make cookies at their home in Chicago.

Mercedes rolls the batter with Ava.
. CHICAGO, United States. REUTERS/Jim Young

Mercedes rolls the batter with Ava.

Mercedes laughs with Jaidon, an energetic four year old, as they play cards together.
. CHICAGO, United States. REUTERS/Jim Young

Mercedes laughs with Jaidon, an energetic four year old, as they play cards together.

Theresa looks at her son after listening to him play his violin.
. CHICAGO, United States. REUTERS/Jim Young

Theresa looks at her son after listening to him play his violin.

Jaidon laughs as his mother helps him push a box of collections for a local food pantry at Baker Demonstration School.
. WILMETTE, United States. REUTERS/Jim Young

Jaidon laughs as his mother helps him push a box of collections for a local food pantry at Baker Demonstration School.

Jaidon's mothers look on as he answers questions while he helps fill bins at the food pantry.
. EVANSTON, United States. REUTERS/Jim Young

Jaidon's mothers look on as he answers questions while he helps fill bins at the food pantry.

Jaidon rests his head on Theresa's hand as Mercedes looks at the two of them.
. CHICAGO, United States. REUTERS/Jim Young

Jaidon rests his head on Theresa's hand as Mercedes looks at the two of them.

Theresa hugs Ava and Jaidon after a musical performance by Ava at the "Beat Kitchen" in Chicago.
. CHICAGO, United States. REUTERS/Jim Young

Theresa hugs Ava and Jaidon after a musical performance by Ava at the "Beat Kitchen" in Chicago.

Stickers on the back of Theresa's car show the make up of her family. "We want people to realise that we're just like any other family - we love our kids - we don't do anything special but be parents," her partner Mercedes said.
. EVANSTON, United States. REUTERS/Jim Young

Stickers on the back of Theresa's car show the make up of her family. "We want people to realise that we're just like any other family - we love our kids - we don't do anything special but be parents," her partner Mercedes said.