When we both lost our mothers, we had strong support from employers and friends. Newspapers listed us as survivors in both cases, and we were buoyed up by the love and support that we felt. We stood side-by-side at their wakes, greeting family and friends who came to pay respects.
Why shouldn’t my gay friends enjoy the same rights I have in my marriage?
Here in the heartland, my gay friends’ relationships are in the shadows, out but not entirely out. Frankly, I do not blame them. There’s much to risk in this red state, in addition to the usual scorn and judgment that society places on them.
We wait for SCOTUS to decide on two cases that may affect the adoption of full marriage equality, across our nation and what that means. I want all of my friends to enjoy what I have – the ups and downs of a long-term marriage and society’s acceptance.
When we announced our engagement, we had a formal portrait taken and people gave us parties and gifts. No such thing for my gay friends. No picture in the paper; no tea-towels embroidered by great Aunt Martha. The New York Times changed its policy several years ago and now publishes wedding stories from those states that have marriage equality. For the most part, you don’t see it in local newspapers.
When my husband was in the hospital, no one questioned whether I should be by his side and be the recipient of information from doctors and nurses. When my husband’s mother died, my employer gave me paid time off to attend the funeral, and then sent a plant. My gay friends most likely cannot even cover a domestic partner with employee health benefits as I have enjoyed for the last three decades.
Not all of the benefits will delight if marriage equality becomes the law of the land – partners who make around the same income will discover the “marriage penalty” tax. Those who have one large income and one small income will discover the “marriage bonus” tax. Rather, full marriage equality may mean that all of us have the right to pay more taxes.
Today in court those who oppose gay marriage argued that marriage is for procreation, and then Associate Justice Elena Kagan asked about older couples. That’s a good question. When one in two marriages of a male and a female end in divorce, why is there such uproar about traditional marriage? For half of those who marry, it is an abysmal failure.
How does my good or poor marriage affect another’s ability to have a good or poor marriage? I support marriage and find it to be a good thing, and I’m in a long-term partnership, marriage, relationship that was blessed by the state long ago.
What can you do if you agree with marriage equality? You can work behind the scenes for change.
When our President talked about marriage equality during his second inaugural address in January, this signaled significant change for our country. This is not about religion; this is about civil rights. Churches will continue to marry whomever they want. No Catholic church should be forced to marry someone who is divorced if church law prohibits it.
I volunteer for several non-profits where I ask the question: are domestic partnerships of gay individuals treated differently than those of a man and a woman? Change is coming.
Ask the question of those organizations you support. Become an ally. Ask yourself: would you want to be treated differently? If you were the parent of a gay child, would you want him or her to be treated differently?
Amy McVay Abbott is an Indiana writer whose newspaper column “The Raven Lunatic” runs biweekly in a dozen Midwestern newspapers. Follow her on Twitter at #ravenonhealth or visit her website at www.amyabhottwrites.com.
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