In this issue, the one that covers Valentine’s Day, we are announcing the winners of our same-sex wedding giveaway.
We, of course, know that we aren’t able to legally marry the two men who won, but we can throw them a great party, a lavish ceremony, and a trip away from home to celebrate — honeymoon style.
But these two men were, at one time, also in need of the real protections a true marriage would have given them. Until recently, one wasn’t a United States citizen and was at risk for being sent out of the country. Had they been a man and a woman who had fallen head-over-heels in love, it would have been as simple as a trip to the Clerk’s Office. As it was, it took six years to overcome that battle.
The men also wanted a family; to adopt two children. Of course we live in a state that forbids unmarried cohabiting couples from adopting … make that the only state in the union that forbids unmarried cohabiting couples from adopting. Skillfully weaving through the maze of forms, requirements and restrictions, one of the men was able to legally adopt two children. Again, had they been a loving male-female couple, the stroke of the pen would have been merely a formality.
Their story, unfortunately, isn’t unique. Many gay and lesbian couples in this country find themselves in these situations and more.
Recently we did a story of two elderly men who had been together for decades. County officials stripped them of their shared home and belongings after one fell ill. Had they been able to legally marry, their estates would have been combined into one indivisible estate upon the death or incapacitation of the other. Their hell on earth in their sunset years could have been avoided with a quick trip to the altar.
We’ve also heard of couples who have ended up in the wrong hospital when one is hurt in an accident. Wrong, because not all hospitals have the same policies of visitation for same-sex partners, no matter how long they have been together or how loudly they plea. Imagine not being able to be in the same room as the person you adore as you both go through what could be the most traumatic time of your lives.
Imagine a perhaps distant relative making life decisions for that loved one that you know is not what he or she would have wanted, and not being able to do a thing about it. Married people don’t worry about such things.
And the couple who pays most of their discretionary income on health insurance would otherwise be included in one partner’s employment benefits had they been a male-female couple.
I have heard many people say that our fight should not be about marriage or even civil unions. To them I say walk in these couples’ shoes for a while and come back to me then.
Yes, I know we need to ensure people can keep jobs and a roof over their heads. Yes, I know there are people who want, for whatever reason, to enlist in the armed forces. Yes, I know that people are still being harassed, bullied and even killed for their real or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity.
Those are important things to fight for.
I also know that over a thousand rights are granted with a rubber stamp at the end of a civil ceremony called a marriage. Those are a thousand rights that hundreds of thousands of people in this country do not get to partake in.
Those are important things to fight for, too.