A Change of Heart on Tying the Knot

“She barred me from his hospital room!”

“How could she do that? I thought you had power of attorney!”

“Well, I do. But she went to court and had herself declared his guardian
and had the power of attorney revoked.”

“I didn’t know she could do that. Can’t you go to court and fight it?”

“I ask my lawyer and he said he would be a long, nasty battle and that
even after all the expense and bad publicity the court might still side
with her because she is his mother and I am not family and I would have
gone through it all for nothing.”

“Well, what do you want to do?”

“l just want this nightmare to be over and get on with my life.”

This was my turning point. That day some six years ago I began to question
my belief that ‘marriage’ was a religious thing and for ‘breeders’ and not
necessary for gays and lesbians. As the rest of the nightmare unfolded, my
friend was denied seeing his lover of eleven years over whom he had spent
endless, sleepless nights watching and for whom he had spent endless days
caring. He was even barred from getting infomation about his lover’s status
from the hopital.

In the end he was not allowed to say goodbye to his dying partner. He would
not have even been told that his lover had died, except that a nurse broke
policy and called him on the sly. He was not even told by his lover’s mother
what funeral arrangements there would be or where his lover’s final resting
place would be. Not one chance to say goodbye – even after he died.

In our society, we take for granted many legal ‘rights’ and privileges that
accompany marriage, such as the spousal designation of next of kin. No one
challeges the right of a spouse in a ‘heterosexual’ marriage to determine
final health care or funeral arrangements nor to inherit the estate in the
absence of a will nor to raise children of a deceased spouse, unless there
are unusual circumstances.

But, all too often family members of a gay or lesbian do not respect any
of these rights of a partner and step in to ‘take over.’ The court system
all too often fails to recognize any claim on the part of the gay/lesbian
partner and sides with the family.This blatant disrespect for the relationship
between two people never happens when the relationship is sanctioned by a legal
marriage. This is why I now believe that gays and lesbians should have the ‘right’
of legal marriage. Not for
religious but for legal equity.

We deserve and need the same legal protections and privileges that straight
people take for granted. Our society grants numerous ‘benefits’ to couples
of legal marriages including final rites, tax benefits, and spousal insurance
benefits.

It is time that we demanded these same ‘benefits’ and refuse to be treated
like third-class citizens.