Church members began talking with Human Rights Campaign, the national gay rights group based in Washington, which also wanted to have a community screening. HRC covered expenses, including inviting Gillian Pieper, one of the moms from Vermont, and two of her children, Emma and James, both 11. As the audience took seats on the floor, parents had their hands full of face-painted, balloon-hatted, high-pitched kid energy.
After the lights went down, here is what they saw:
[WARNING! The following dialogue may contain sophisticated themes for mature audiences. ]
Buster: So Gillian's your mom, too?
Emma: She's my stepmom.
Buster: Boy, that's a lot of moms!
Emma: Yup. [Showing framed family photo.] This is mom and Gillian right here.
Buster: That's a nice picture.
Emma: This is one of my favorite pictures.
Buster: How come?
Emma: Because it has my mom and Gillian, people I love a lot, and they read a lot to me.
During the rest of the 30-minute episode, these moms and two other moms turn up now and then, but they're part of the blur of adults as the kids learn about Vermont.
Pieper, a health educator for a health insurance company, and her partner, Karen Pike, a freelance photographer, were joined in a civil union in their home state in 2002.
"Aren't my kids cool?" Pieper, 38, said to the audience after the show yesterday. Loud cheers came in reply. "By being here and clapping for them, you have given so much more than Margaret Spellings has taken away."