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 information about his lover’s status from the hospital.

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 challenges 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

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