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PSS Spring '11

Domestic Partnership

Charles Jewett '66 and his partner Takashi hike near Crater
Lake on Wizard Island.

No matter where in the world he is, Charles "Woody" Jewett '66 walks every morning. And, when they are in the same state, Jewett's partner of 12 years, Takashi, joins him.

"We're lucky to travel a lot. Takashi presents papers at conferences, and I often go with him. We've been to Istanbul, Barcelona, Madrid and Kyoto in the past couple of years," says Jewett, who is retired from the Peace Corps. "In September, we climbed 1,368 steps to the summit of Kotohira Mountain in Japan to visit a Shinto shrine. That was one heck of a walk!"

The pair—competent walkers and avid movie buffs—is just like any other. "I swim; he reads. He has a great memory; mine is hazy. He's a great cook; he's got me on a much better diet than I was before I met him," says Jewett. "It might sound a little boring but we support each other. Isn't that what being in a relationship is about?"

Though they've been together for more than a decade, they have no plans to officially marry. Legally, in California, they are domestic partners, although that designation isn't available in Florida, where they live much of the year. Takashi, a professor of economics, immigrated to the U.S. without the benefits of marriage, and Jewett has his own health insurance, allowing them to avoid two issues that impact many gay couples.

"We don't need a piece of paper from City Hall. We've hosted lunches and gettogethers with friends and family so that everyone can get to know us together," says Jewett. "That's a wonderful affirmation of who and what we are to each other. And we've been very lucky that all of our friends have accepted our relationship."

Active in the gay community and in the fight for equality, Jewett has made civic engagement a cornerstone of his life. "My parents were extremely active in the community where I grew up; they never lectured us about giving back, that's just what we all did," he says.

"Right now, I'm giving back to the gay community by raising awareness about issues of equality in whatever way I can," Jewett continues. "I donate to gay-affirming causes and candidates. I'm active as a blogger and in posting and commenting on Facebook."

"I grew up in a different world. I didn't come out until I was in my 50s," says Jewett. "I feel blessed that Takashi and I have legions of lifelong friends and family who support us."

Though many of those friends are gay, he and Takashi have never been to a gay wedding. "Not once! Maybe that will change in the future. I hope it will. Relationships are important, and they're good for the community. We should honor relationships, celebrate them, not try to tear them down with hate."

Jewett's two grown children, Caroline and Andrew, have embraced the partnership. "My kids don't put labels on things. Your gender, ethnicity or orientation doesn't matter," he says. "To them, Takashi and I aren't a gay couple, we're just a couple. I think that's a very healthy way to see things."