by: Monique Ming Laven Updated:
SEATTLE - Stephanie Merrow is thrilled to show you her glittering finger. Like any newly engaged bride-to-be, she loves how the diamond sparkles and how it represents the commitment she's about to make. But she's also nervous. She knows others may think it's less beautiful because of who gave it to her: another woman.
Stephanie and her fiancee, Jenny Frazier, have been together for five years, and for part of that time she has been a theater coach at Eastside Catholic. Their engagement came just a few days after the school's Vice Principal Mark Zmuda was dismissed from his job for marrying another man.
Immediately, many vocal students started demonstrating, asking for their beloved vice principal back. At the time the controversy broke, Stephanie supported the kids' stand, but didn't reveal anything about her own relationship. She didn't want to stir up more controversy. The school went on Christmas break. The protests continued. Then, Jenny proposed.
Still, Stephanie did not plan to make a statement about what was happening at Eastside or in her own private life. That changed Monday afternoon.
"I heard on the radio that [the students] had been told they couldn't protest and they would get in trouble if they did and that was the snapping point for me," said Stephanie.
She picked up the phone and called a local radio show and told her story.
Some of her students heard her and started spreading the word. Some even contacted KIRO 7 to express their support. Then, we went to go talk to Stephanie. She wasn't prepared for news crews to show up on her doorstep. But as she sat on the couch next to Jenny, she looked at her ring, and said there's no reason to hide her happiness or her pride.
hifting the diamond in the light, Stephanie said, "When I look at it, I think about her and how much she means to me."
She has no idea what will happen when she shows up for work Tuesday afternoon at Eastside. But she does know she hopes she'll be able to talk to her students -- even if it's just one more time. She wants to tell them how proud she is that they've stood up for what they believe and for what they think is right.
"That is what changes history," Stephanie said.
And, of course, she'd like to show them the ring.