After 20 years as a couple, Mark Maxwell and Timothy Young of Winston-Salem, NC journeyed to Washington, D.C. to get legally married this year. Together they have four boys -– Torin (13), Justin (16), Derrick (17), and Brandon (24) — but because North Carolina refuses to respect their lawful marriage, the parents have not been able to jointly adopt their children and fully protect their family under state law.

“It’s all about family for us, and so Tim and I getting married is a message to our boys that we are one family – that’s what it’s about,” Maxwell says in the video. “I would not want to parent with another person because we balance each other. We each have gifts that we bring to our family. I truly have my soulmate. … We want society to say, ‘We will protect this family.’”

According to a recent Australian study on the children of same-sex parents — the world’s largest — the kids are not only all right but sometimes fare better than children of heterosexual parents.

“In every city and town across the South we know there are LGBT youth, adults and families who urgently need – and desire – the rights and protections that our Constitution promises to all,” said Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferarra, Executive Director of the Campaign for Southern Equality. “Regrettably families like Mark and Tim’s suffer from the current lack of legal protections as they seek to raise happy and healthy kids.”

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