PHOENIX-- Amid a call for equality for gay marriage across the nation, a Valley couple says they have to leave Arizona to protect their family.
Dr. Patric and Levi Schine married in August in California. They welcomed twin girls into the world in December. But now they say Arizona state law does not support their family.
"It's frustrating," Levi said. "It's kinda weird because we are both professionals. We've never had any run-ins with the law." Levi is a banker. Patric, a veteran, is a doctor. They are leaving their respective businesses behind, selling their house and moving to Washington, D.C.
"One of the things you just assume is that you have the same rights as I have, and I have the same rights as you have," Patric said. "We are all citizens of the U.S. But we don't. You have more rights than I do and it becomes apparent when something like this happens that you're at the will of the law."
Patric is the biological father of the girls. Levi wants to do a second-parent adoption, but because Arizona does not recognize their marriage, he can't.
"I have no rights to the kids," he said. "If something did happen to Patric, I could petition the court for custody and stuff, but there's no guarantee that I'd get it. In a normal marriage, if something happens to a parent, the kids go to the spouse, but that's not the case with us."
"With the costs of legal fees and the uncertainty of winning, they have decided to move to Washington DC instead of taking their chances in a biased court," Lynn Emery, a friend of the couple, wrote on a Go Fund Me page she set up for the Schine family. "The other thing that they are worried about is that their case may set a precedent for other same sex couples to follow, especially if the ruling wasn't found in their favor."
It breaks their hearts to leave their friends, families and hometown behind, but when it comes to protecting their two precious 6-month-old girls, Patric and Levi said the choice was one they had to make.
"Wouldn't you do anything for your family? So, that's what we are doing," Patric said. "We are sacrificing ourselves and our careers to make sure these children are being taken care of."