Building a Family of Dreams in KY

Paul Campion & Randy Johnson • Louisville, KY

This story was published in August 2014. Paul and Randy were plaintiffs in the case that brought the freedom to marry to Kentucky – and ultimately the entire United States, when their case was ruled on by the U.S. Supreme Court in June 2015. 

Paul Campion and Randy Johnson have had a lot of practice when it comes to setting a positive example and standing up for what they believe in: As adoptive fathers of four beautiful children, Randy and Paul have tried to encourage their kids to speak up for themselves and work toward a better world. 

That's why last summer, Paul and Randy joined a federal lawsuit seeking respect for marriages between same-sex couples legally performed in other states right in their home state of Kentucky. The case was brought by Fauver Law Office, led by primary attorneys Shannon Fauver and Dawn Elliot, with further involvement from Clay Daniel Walton & Adams attorneys Dan Canon, Laura Landenwich and L. Joe Dunman. In February 2014, they celebrated as the judge ruled in their favor, and although on November 6, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit ruled on the wrong side of history, they will not give up the fight.

The men have lived in Kentucky for most of their lives together: They met in 1991 on a weekend when Paul, who lived in Western New York, was visiting his brother in Louisville. Paul and Randy met that weekend.

"After a very short time together, we knew it was love at first sight, which made Paul's planned return home very difficult," Randy said. But over the next few months, they talked on the phone every day, took weekend trips to see each other, and they quickly fell deeper and deeper in love. 

Within six months, Paul, a teacher, had moved to Kentucky to be with Randy, a nurse.

One of their most significant bonding conversations revolved around their views on family.

"We are both from very large families, and we remembered how vital it was to us to have family connections," Randy said. "Early on, we told each other that it was our biggest dream to become parents and have children of our own."

Over the course of the next decade, the couple - who had promised their commitment to each other in 1992 with matching rings - worked to build their family. After many twists and turns in the complicated adoption process - which, especially in Kentucky, did not favor same-sex couples or gays and lesbians overall - they were finally proud parents to twin boys, and soon after, they welcomed a little girl into their lives, too. Four years later, they decided to be foster parents to a 7-year-old who Paul met through his work as a school counselor. Shortly after they became foster parents, they certified a final adoption of the child. Their happy family of six was complete.

"Our family is more of a blessing than we ever could have dreamed of," Randy said. "And yet, we continued to struggle with legal recognition as a family."

Even when they got legally married in July 2008 in California, Randy and Paul knew that their home state of Kentucky would deny them any and all respect for their marriage license. And as the years passed, they were continually faced with roadblocks denying them the protections and responsibilities that all other married couples received.

They hope that their efforts to protect their family are fruitful in Kentucky - they hope that they are able to show all four of their kids the power of standing up for what's right.