Thursday, June 07, 2007

Why Marriage Equality is Important to Me

I'm not going to sugarcoat this. I never wanted to get legally married. Not until now. Not until I found the love I had waited so very long for. And now I see the importance of marriage & why civil unions/domestic partnerships are not enough.

For many years I ran around saying "screw legal marriage, everyone should just do domestic partnerships." I believed it with all my heart & still very much feel it's a great way to go. It is not necessary to get legally married. Lawyers can draw up papers so that most things in a marriage can apply to a union. So why have I changed my mind for myself?

I suddenly understand what deep love means & how important it is to protect it to the fullest extent possible. Legal marriage makes this possible. To want your partner & family to have as many provisions as possible to keep the family sustained & healthy is an appropriate response to such strong feelings. Don't get me wrong, legal marriage in and of itself can't keep a family from harm, divorce or problems. But when love is right & life is tough, legal marriage can help. Take for instance, the two things our state (Oregon) with it's domestic partnership legislation doesn't cover: after death benefits & immigration.

  • As noted in the Willamette Week article written by Byron Beck legal domestic partnerships would still leave a surviving partner unable to receive the deceased partners social security benefits. You could be together for longer than a married couple but still not receive the dead partners social security after death. I cannot even begin to fathom that my partner would not be able to get my social security benefits for one reason only: because she's female. If we have children & grandchildren I would want them along with my beloved to be able to receive all the monies that I worked my ass off for. It would be the way I would want it & legal marriage provides for that. Not having access to that is not only unfair but unjust & discriminatory.

  • Immigration and love. Yes the two happen! If the bill Gov. Kulongoski signed goes through it still means that if a US citizen falls in love with someone from another country, even Canada, the partner wishing to immigrate here would not be able to. This means a mixed citizenship couple could be physically torn apart at any time because the non-citizen could be deported. Legal marriage protects against this & keeps the couple together.

Let's not forget that all the other benefits that legalized domestic partnership would afford a couple would not be carried on to any other state. Only legal marriage for all partners in all states would guarantee a couple all the benefits & provisions no matter where in the US they go.

The love I feel for my partner is so strong that I want her to be able to get all the help & comfort possible. Legal marriage provides help and shows to all that our commitment is so strong that we feel the privileges marriage affords are not to be taken lightly but are cherished & to be used to benefit the family to make us better so we can better for others. That the benefits of legalized marriage can be used to enhance our comfort so we can be better citizens of our country of the heart & the country we're supposedly equal to all, in. Is saving money by filing joint taxes, getting each others social security after death & being recognized as lifelong partners legally important? Hell yes! Relationships no matter how wonderful are work. The labor of love is important work that benefits the individual, couple & all around them A real & deep commitment to stay together no matter what is one of the most important things a person can do & it's extremely serious. If the law can provide a bit of ease for a couple with some tax breaks & post death financial support than so be it. Our country should support real love between two people and legal marriage makes that possible.

Same sex marriage does not interest me. Marriage equality does. To me this issue is not about the right for gays & lesbians to get married. It's about stopping discrimination based on gender or the sex of our partners. The size, shape & appearance of one's genitals is not the determining factor in commitment. It's that a union between two people who care deeply for another is worth the seriousness of lifelong togetherness. And I believe even most married straight couples would agree that they married their partners for love & not solely for what is in their pants.



Zee said...

Excellent, well-written and thoughtful post! I couldn't agree more.

Any further comment I leave wouldn't hold a candle to what you just wrote, so I'm just going to say, "yeah, what she said!"


Sara said...

Well I've got nutin to add, you said it all perfectly!