Carol Schall, Mary Townley and their daughter, Emily Schall Townley, are among the guests Tim Kaine invited to the Vice Presidential debate on October 4. The couple were among the plaintiffs in the lawsuit that resulted in the Virginia ban on same-sex marriage being overturned in 2014. Their presence will make a statement, as Kaine’s rival Mike Pence has spoken against same-sex marriage.
Here’s a look at the lives of Schall and Townley.
1. Schall & Townley Have Been Together for Over 30 Years & Had a Commitment Ceremony in 1996
Schall and Townley met when the school Schall was teaching at had an opening for a teacher. They felt an instant connection and have been together for over 30 years. They had a commitment ceremony in 1996 with their families in attendance.
In 2008, the couple got married in California and renewed their vows on October 6, 2014.
Schall is now an assistant professor at the School of Education at Virginia Commonwealth University and specializes in autism. Townley has also spent most of her career working with special needs children and is now the Supervisor of Transitional Programming at the Health Diagnostic Laboratory.
2. The Couple have a 18-Year-Old Daughter Named Emily
The couple have a 18-year-old daughter named Emily, who has always been with her moms when they make public appearances. She was seen with them when Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban was overturned in court.
In a Washington Post profile of the couple, Emily was asked if she would be interested in a legal career now that she’s spent so much time with her parents in court. She said that’s not even something she’d consider. “I hated civics,” she said.
Famed attorneys Ted Olson and David Boiees represented the plaintiffs in the Virginia case, Bostic v. Schaefer. Oslon told the Post that he feels “very attached to them personally,” adding, “All I want to do is help them to live the lives they are entitled to as Americans.”
3. Schall & Townley Joined the Lawsuit After Their Human Rights Campaign Essay Drew Attention
Just before the Virginia ban was overturned, Emily wrote her own essay for the Human Rights Campaign. Emily wrote:
Because we live in Virginia, we are a family in every way except for the law. My mama is a legal stranger to me. I may not get all the financial stuff about retirement and inheritance, but I do get the weird looks we got when my moms tried to get my passport renewed. I mean, this person who didn’t know us at all decided who was and wasn’t my own mom. I mean, really, my moms are my own. So, that’s what marriage equality is all about for us. Is a chance for us to be viewed for what we are, a family. The day when marriage equality is the law of the land will be a great day for kids like me. On that day, we will be just that much closer to full equality for everyone.
4. Schall Was so Unprepared for Their Wedding That She Bought a Dress at Macy’s That Day
On October 6, 2014, when same-sex marriage became legal in Virginia, Schalla and Townley didn’t want to wait one more minute to renew their vows and be officially married in Virginia. They decided to get married that afternoon, even though they were completely unprepared.
“It was 12:30 p.m., I’m still kind of stunned, and I am going to be with the attorney general at 3 p.m., but I had nothing to wear,” Schall told Richmond.com in November 2014. “So I walked into Macy’s, and I told them ‘This is very odd, I am getting married today and I need a white dress or suit or something.’ Then I ran to get some shoes and ended up buying some that were too big for me.”
Townley said that even though the ceremony was a “circus,” it “didn’t feel impersonal.”
“It was all so surreal, but I guess it has sunken in,” Emily told Richmond.com. “I don’t feel any different. I have never thought of them not being my moms, so I guess this wasn’t a big step for me.”
5. Kaine Also Invited Rev. Jessie Jackson & Former Richmond Mayor Henry Marsh to the Debate
Kaine also invited the Rev. Jesse Jackson to the debate, as he considers the civil rights leader a “personal friend,” CNN reports.
Kaine’s other guests are Henry March, the first African American mayor of Richmond who endorsed Kaine when he ran for that office in 1998; and Okianer Dark, a professor Kaine represented in a fair housing case when he was a young lawyer.