Marriage, apparently, requires serious protection from the likes of my wife and me:
- We've been in a committed relationship for eleven years, and were married in the church a year and nine days ago.
- I'm a Lutheran church musician. She is a speech pathologist, working with inner-city preschoolers.
- We helped to found a choir that sings concerts to feed the hungry.
- We have two puppies.
- We drive small, fuel-efficient cars.
- We own our home (well, really, the bank owns most of it, but you get the idea...).
- We mow our grass, rake our leaves and shovel our snow.
- We have a wide circle of friends and a wonderful church community.
- We have clean criminal records.
- We are monogamous.
- We recycle.
- We spent last weekend buying groceries, doing laundry, take the dogs to the dog park, mowing the lawn, adding shelves to the linen closet, doing music at church (choir, recorder, drum, guitar) and editing a line of Lutheran choral music.
- We support a little girl in Africa and have seven godchildren between us.
- We make charitable contributions to worthy organizations.
- We try to eat our vegetables, exercise regularly, save a little money and pay our bills on time.
- We vote.
- We pay our taxes faithfully, seeing them mostly as contributions to the greater good that make society run.
It seems that we represent a major threat to civilization, intent as we are said to be on dismantling the very nature of family.
The tax part is where the argument against my marriage breaks down for me. There are more than 1400 federal rights and protections that accompany a marriage license. We have exactly zero legal standing as a couple, despite our eleven years together. Every day, straight people marry in Vegas after a night of drinking, or on a whim. People marry for all kinds of reasons. Some marriages last a lifetime, and some marriages don't even last a month. Yet members of straight marriages automatically get hospital visitation, power of attorney, inheritance rights, joint ownership, Social Security survivor benefits, adoption rights, bereavement leaves, protection from domestic violence, and a long, long list of legal and financial conveniences and protections.
My wife and I get none of those. Our tax dollars do nothing for us in this regard. We have wills, we have power of attorney, and medical decisionmaking for one another because we paid hundreds of dollars for the legal work to get...hmm...about seven of those 1400+ rights that come with a marriage license. And even this much protection is subject to legal challenge by her less-than-sympathetic family of origin.
We are conscientious, contributing members of society. The hysterical campaign of those who need to have someone to blame for their discomfort with differences has a real cost to us, financially and psychologically. It's exhausting after a while, to be someone else's designated scapegoat, due entirely to a characteristic which is beyond my control. I'm tired of being demonized for someone else's political agenda.
This is a simple issue of fairness. I don't want "special" rights. I want the same ones that my straight loved ones have. No more. No less.
Really--is THIS what everyone is afraid of? Are you KIDDING me?
Want to know what scares me? That she'll get sick or hurt...that I won't have the legal papers with me in that critical moment, and will therefore not be consulted about her care or even get to visit her. That she could die alone in a strange emergency room because I left the paperwork at home. That her family could contest her will, kicking me out of my own home and leaving me out of decision making about, or presence at her funeral. That I'd be without her and destitute because they could lay claim to the property we've acquired together, and I won't be entitled to any federal survivor benefits, her pension, etc.
Think I'm paranoid? It happens all the time. I know of a guy whose partner's family wouldn't even tell him where his partner of two decades was buried.
Whatever your feeling about GLBT relationships, no one deserves this. To those of you who have a vote in this matter: PLEASE consider us and the millions like us around the country. Here, but for the grace of genetics, go you. To those of you who have any kind of voice in the process wherever you live, please speak up for your GLBT brothers and sisters. We're no different from you. We're no more or less likely to do right or to do wrong than anyone else. The one and only difference is the physical makeup of those we love.
As far as the future of marriage is concerned, we have no interest in destroying it. We just want to participate in it.