The Renna-McElrath Family for USA TODAY


I photographed Cathy Renna and Leah McElrath as they took their daughter Rosemary to school for a USA TODAY story about a bill before the Washington City Council that would allow same-sex couples to marry.  Cathy and Leah have already been married to each other twice.  The first time was in a religious ceremony and the second time was in San Francisco in an attempt to make it official in the eyes of the state.  Their marriage was later voided after a state supreme court ruling, so these District residents are now pinning their hopes on the new bill that could allow them to officially wed for good.  When I asked Cathy about her situation, she told me that she and Leah considered themselves married in the eyes of God, but that this was a very different thing from a civil marriage. “We don’t want separate but equal,” she said.  “Rituals are important.  Rights are also important.”

That’s some powerful rhetoric in a controversial battle between church, state and human rights.