After 20 years, my partner and I are now husband and husband. Please keep me posted when all your children have been fully converted so I know our dastardly plan is working and the end of the world is near.
In the meantime, I am going to go about my life as I always have, but with one major difference that affects no one else: a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders, at last giving me some peace of mind. Okay, so I don’t yet have all the protections and securities of being legally bound to the person with whom I will spend the rest of my life because it’s not federally recognized. Which means, when one of us passes, the other is going to get slapped with an estate tax. Unfortunately for my husband, the only thing he would inherit from me is my debt. And right now, we can’t file joint tax returns, which could mean either a higher or lower tax return for us.
Money is the least of my worries. I would rather the government take more of my money if that’s the cost to allow adults across the country to all be treated as equals instead of judging our human worth based on region (and, let’s face it…religion). I couldn’t wait for this day. As soon as we were legally allowed to marry (thanks Governor Cuomo!), we decided we would wait until the day of our 20 year anniversary. This immediately left me panicking that certain individuals—or groups—were going to swoop in before this date could arrive and declare that I did not deserve the same freedom to be happy (or miserable, depending on who you talk to) that they do and take my right away from me. It wouldn’t be the first time.
But what has burdened me and been the most anxiety-inducing every day of my life for the two decades we’ve been together is the threats to the very essence of our relationship—our ability to fully care for and be there for each other under the worst of circumstances for as long as we both shall live. One of my biggest fears concerned what would happen if one of us were in the hospital. I imagined (was anticipating) the day when one of us was refused admittance to the hospital to be by the other’s side because we are not “related.” I pictured the sick partner lying terrified in a hospital bed waiting for comfort from the one man in the world to whom he entrusted his life. This fear only escalated when we bought our home and discovered that the servicing hospital in our area, used by all our doctors, is a Catholic-based institution. It saddens me that I am forced to consider as my enemy those who claim to practice compassion and believe in the goodness of God—but more often assume the role of God.
Along with thoughts of hospitals comes the crucial comfort of health insurance. So much of the tricky navigating of our partnership has been tripped up by our inability to be covered under each other’s insurance. We’ve never had the flexibility of leaving or losing a job without the further downside of forfeiting all medical benefits or paying more for them. The mere threat of astronomical medical bills because we can’t temporarily jump on the other’s health plan has kept us locked into miserable work situations several times—which in turn leads to emotional and physical stresses that impact our health, leading to…astronomical medical bills.
I also dreaded the day when it might be decided that one or both of us needed to go into a nursing home and the possibility that our bond would be dismissed and we would be torn away from each other for what remained of our lives, never to see each other again. And when one of us passes, I imagined the toll it would take on the grieving partner who remained behind. We have loving, supportive people in our lives, but materialism can bring out the worst in people, as does a system that puts us at a clear disadvantage under the law. Without any automatic legal rights to worldly possessions, the safe home we’ve built together could so easily be broken down by those who want a piece of the pie. Our shared existence could be pulled apart, leaving empty corners, vacant rooms, and blank walls as a further reminder of the surviving partner’s great loss. It could drag him out of our home or into the courts, pitting him against those he considered family, simply because they’ve had their eye on a certain treasured item of ours and decide it is rightfully theirs—even if the possession in question has been in the surviving partner’s family for generations, where he’d like to keep it so he can continue the tradition of passing it down to his nephews and nieces (which we previously had to speak of as our rhetorical nephews and nieces—absurd).
Amazingly, as we were planning to get married, my husband for the first time ever expressed these very same worries to me. He admitted feeling relieved that we would never have to learn any awful truths about family we believed with all our hearts would always be there for us and honor the worth of our partnership.
It’s sad really. It’s sad that these thoughts come into our minds every day of our lives, no matter how happy we are. It’s sad that this is the kind of stuff grown adults planning for their later years have to worry about as they get older, on top of all of life’s other challenges, which make just existing hard enough as it is. It’s sad people could be so sinfully self-righteous as to support and push for this kind of treatment of fellow human beings.
I know. I know. It can be argued that this is all self-centered thinking that doesn’t consider what is best for society as a whole, which is obviously the only way I can think because I don’t care about the future. After all, I’m not leaving anything to the world—no children to continue the human race, no legacy—so why should I care about what happens once I’m gone? I’m just like all the non-contributing members of the heterosexual community who selfishly choose never to have children or just aren’t able to (That’s their problem. They’re still lesser humans because they can’t propagate—kind of like a barren cow on the farm). All we’ve ever done for society is join its work force, invest in its economy, pay taxes to beautify cities and pay for the education of children, and bring up our neighbors’ home values. Slackers.
Shockingly, despite all that, I do care about the future. I don’t pretend that global warming isn’t going to annihilate this planet—but I guess that’s because I’m not invested in money makers like oil. And I do care about the blatantly obvious truth that the institution of marriage is the sign of the apocalypse. First we made the mistake of permitting marriage between a man and a woman, which just opened a Pandora’s box. Next thing you know, we’re allowing men to marry men and women to marry women. It has to stop before it’s too late. So consider me on board for the proposition that bans marriage between humans and animals. At this point, if we want to keep the Defense of Marriage Act in place before things get even more out of hand and we all face the wrath of God for allowing it, the most logical thing to do is reword DOMA to: Marriage is just between two consenting adult humans…who aren’t blood related. Because you know that shit has been going on forever and nobody has made any effort to stop that.
But seriously, I do want to thank all those friends and family who have vocalized their support for the quality of my love and my life and understand its importance. It is deeply appreciated. And don’t be insulted that you weren’t invited to the wedding, because there wasn’t a wedding. Something that extravagant and excessive would just be making a mockery of one of the gayest traditions ever: flowers; frilly dresses; lovey dovey hearts (and love doves); sappy ballads; dancing; fringe, lace, and veils. So not my scene. I’m way too much of a man for such feminine indulgence.
And for those who are terrified that all children going forward will choose to get gay married because it’s so much more enticing than heterosexual marriage, I leave you with this comforting truth; I spent 44 years of my life witnessing nothing but men marrying women, and not once did I ever consider doing it myself.