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Kelly Carpenter
(May 24, 1967 - living) U.S.A.

Kelly Carpenter

TV executive

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Kelly Carpenter was living her own seemingly idyllic existence with Rosie O'Donnell, her partner at the time, and their four children. She and Rosie O'Donnell married in San Francisco in 2004 and broke up three years later, but divorce wasn't necessary as the union was later annulled, along with those of about 4,000 other couples, by the California Supreme Court.

Kelly Carpenter

It wasn't the kind of life Kelly Carpenter had necessarily imagined growing up in Baton Rouge, La., as a daughter of deeply religious parents who, after learning of her homosexuality, enrolled her in a three-year deprogramming workshop.

Eventually, R Family Vacations began to offer resort stays, family camps, adults-only vacations and even a Broadway cruise, staffed by entertainers like Anne Steele, a sultry mezzo-soprano with an effervescent smile who plays New York's cabarets and piano bars. In spring 2010, Anne, who is from an Indiana family filled with singers, was sitting at a dance party on an ocean liner in Hawaii when she felt the brush of Kelly Carpenter's hand against hers. For years, Kelly had maintained an air of brusque efficiency onboard the cruises

But on this particular evening, after hanging out with and even flirting with Anne Steele on the beach that afternoon, she let her guard down. Once again single and not looking for anything serious, Kelly Carpenter said that she decided "I'm just going to hold her hand and see what it feels like." "I thought she just accidentally touched my hand," said Anne Steele, who also was single at the time. "And then I thought, she's definitely really touching my hand. It was so fifth grade. My face was bright red, and I wondered, 'Is anybody seeing this?' "

"She's an absolutely stunning performer, she's got an unbelievable voice, she's beautiful to look at," Kelly Carpenter said. "But I never felt that I got to know the other parts of her that I did on that trip. Then all of the sudden I was like, 'Wow, she's smart, too, and engaging and interesting and funny' - all the things I felt I didn't know that much of, having worked with her."

After the hand-holding episode, Anne Steele excused herself for bed, but not before planting an awkward good-night kiss on Kelly Carpenter's lips. The next morning, she arrived at the staff meeting wearing dark glasses, the better to cloak her expression as she simultaneously looked and tried not to look at Kelly, who was clearly doing the same. The chemistry was hard to ignore. Finally Anne sent a text from across the room: "You want to make out?" To which Kelly responded, "Yes!" inaugurating what she called "our teen romance."

Love took flight as the women navigated the world that year. In July 2010, as they shared a hammock under the stars in Ixtapa, Mexico, Anne felt a head-over-heels rush but decided to play it cool. "There was a lot of hiding because these were people who had known us forever," Anne said. "It would have blown out of proportion way too fast."

Kelly and AnneIn August, while together on a weeklong cruise through the Caribbean, the situation changed as Kelly revealed that she was enchanted as well. But Kelly was cautious because her two sons, Parker, now 18, and Blake, 13, and two daughters, Chelsea, 15, and Vivi, 10, with whom she shares custody with Rosie O'Donnell, were also on that cruise. Once the children were aware that their mother and Anne were a couple, it was a matter of months before they had persuaded Ane to move into their home in Chestnut Ridge, N.Y., with Vivi commanding Kelly to make room in her closet for Anne's clothes.

The women, who travel for work about eight weeks each year, were vacationing in Provincetown, Mass., when same-sex marriage was legalized in New York on July 24, 2011, and amid the hoopla, they looked at each other and said, simply, "We're doing it." But, with their own relationship so fresh, they wanted to allow what they called "a respectful grace period" in which their gay friends in longer-term partnerships could marry first.

Finally, the women were married by Lorna G. Schofield, a United States district judge for the Southern District of New York, in the backyard of their home in Chestnut Ridge, in the neighborhood they've christened Rainbow Ridge.

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Source: Stephanie Berger for The New York Times

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