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BECKY BOWLES AND RHONDA MANN - Former Seattle couple marries in California
BECKY BOWLES AND RHONDA MANN - Former Seattle couple marries in California
by SGN Staff Writers A well-known Seattle Lesbian couple who retired to Palm Springs, CA, were married in California on Thursday. Becky Bowles and Rhonda Mann, partners for 13 years, were among the first to take advantage of California's new same-sex marriage ruling.

"We always wanted to be married," Bowles told the SGN Thursday afternoon. After meeting in 1995, "we actually exchanged rings that first year. Then we registered as domestic partners when that became an option."

"We're just blushing brides," she said. "We're having a great time! It's not that our relationship is any different, but it's great to be recognized."

Bowles and Mann met originally in Kirkland, WA. The pair visited Palm Springs on vacation and were so taken by the area they bought a house there within weeks. Bowles commuted from the Seattle area for several years while she worked her real estate business.

"We didn't know how Gay Palm Springs was till we got here," Bowles said. "It's been an amazing journey to end up here & and we're married!"

Though the pair had planned on being married at the courthouse later in the week, an opportunity for a Thursday ceremony arose. Given under five hours to prepare for an impromptu wedding, the couple acted quickly. "Oh my gosh!" Bowles thought. "We need flowers! Rhonda needs shoes!"

Bowles and Mann were married by Palm Springs Mayor Steve Pougnet, their personal friend, in the Palm Springs City Council Chambers. Pougnet, elected in November, 2007, is also Gay.

Another couple - two Gay men who were also personal friends of theirs - were married immediately afterwards. A third couple were women who had been together for 18 years, with two sons. Most people were married in Indio, the county seat.

"It's a piece of history," Bowles said of their decision to marry. "A step towards the 1,038 federal rights that we don't have. & Since we've been given the right, we felt it was our responsibility to exercise it."

Some marriage ceremonies have drawn protests. In Contra Costa County, Westboro Baptist Church picketed with signs reading, "God is your enemy."

There were no protests in Palm Springs.

Bowles and Mann were motivated to speak to the SGN by the looming initiative in California opposing same-sex marriage. They advise their friends in Seattle to support California's decision by getting involved.

"Instead of wedding gifts, send a donation to the campaign," Bowles recommended. "Join the fight. Pick an organization that's in a position to lead the fight and support it."

Bowles and Mann have set up a wedding registry with the HRC along with many other couples. Visit www.hrc.org/weddingregistry to make a donation, or fight the initiative at Equality of California's website (www.eqwa.org).

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