Why Marriage Equality Can’t Wait

My good friend Todd Heywood has an article in the City Pulse, an alternative newspaper in Lansing, Michigan, about a gay couple in that city. Their story demonstrates why marriage equality is a necessity and it’s not something we can wait on. Real people are suffering without it.

Against this backdrop, a 27-year-old Mykul Johnson of Lansing met Henry David Thomas, 33. Everyone knew him as D.

D, a dancer who choreographed many local productions, was friendly and outgoing, Johnson recalled. The attraction was immediate.

“When I first came over, it was like late in the afternoon,” Johnson said. “He said, at some point early on, ‘I think you’re going to be spending the night.’ I had no objection whatsoever to that. So I did, and I’ve been here ever since.”

The two lived together in a two-story home on the east side. It’s filled with an eclectic mix of masks and pottery, artwork and photo mementos. For 37 years, it was Mykul and D’s home.

On March 21, one year to the day after a federal district court judge in Detroit struck down Michigan’s constitutional marriage ban, D Thomas passed away at age 69. He died of congestive heart failure and COPD. The couple could not tie the knot on March 22, 2014, when a federal court ruling created a short window during which same-sex marriage was legal in Michigan. D was tethered to an oxygen machine in the couple’s living room.

Johnson’s life now consists of phone calls, emails and errands for a local attorney handling D’s estate. By law, he is a legal stranger to D and his belongings. Those all belong to the estate, which is being liquidated.

And despite having spent money to have legal documents drawn up to assure that Johnson would have title to the couple’s home in the event of D’s death, he’s fighting for that too. The Ingham County Register of Deeds Office rejected a quit-claim deed because of legal errors on it.

The result? Five weeks after his partner’s death, Johnson, 63, has no idea, whether he will be able to keep their home.

“Mykul and D’s story is the perfect example of why we cannot delay justice any longer,” said Gina Calcagno, public education campaign director for Michigan for Marriage. “They pledged their lives to one another, they took on all of the responsibilities of marriage and never received the rights they deserved. Couples across Michigan and across the country, like Mykul and D, deserve to have the lives they have built together recognized.”…

“If the couple had been able to legally wed, if D had died, as his surviving spouse, Mykul would have inherited the home (absent any directive in D’s will leaving title to the home to someone else),” said Jay Kaplan of the ACLU of Michigan LGBT Project. “And if D had died without leaving a will, Mykul as his legal spouse also would have inherited the marital home. That is one of the many important legal benefits of civil marriage.”

Exactly right. When we debate these issues, it often takes on an abstract tone, like it’s just some airy legal argument. But real people are affected in a very direct and serious way. With all due respect to George Wallace — which is none whatsoever — I say: Equality now, equality forever.

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  • John Pieret

    There is one and only one way the bigots can keep “marriage” to themselves and that is to take the government out of it entirely, including no longer giving married people “special rights,” such as automatic inheritance and right to make medical decisions for spouses and children. Then the bigots who claim that “marriage” existed before government, and, therefore, shouldn’t be changed, can experience the “original intent” of marriage, including what Mykul is now going through. Then they can call it “marriage” and insist that anyone not “married” in their church isn’t “really married.”

  • mojave66

    I worked in an AIDS clinic back in the late 80’s. We saw stories like this time and time again. Men who were not allowed to see their dying partner because their families forbade it. Couples who were kicked out of their home or apartment after spending months taking care of their loved one– but had no legal right to stay after their partner passed. Time and time again we saw this.

    This is why the dehumanizing of same-sex couples piss me the hell off. Keep your ridiculous religious bigotry out of my relationship.

  • John Hinkle

    I think we should ask the resident religious conservative how they respond to such a heart wrenching story.

    .

    Modus?

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    John Hinkle, frankly relationships like this strip away the false veneer gayhomos wrap their so-called “relationships” in so that they can pull the wool over you Liberals’ eyes and redefine marriage to include their sodomic lifestyles, stripping marriage of the sanctity it’s earned over its 6-10,000 year history.

     

    They were together for 37 years? Under Traditional Marriage® the “man” in that “relationship” would’ve traded up at least twice by now!

     

    Grow up, gayhomos, and start putting the “adult” in “adultery”!

  • eric

    There is one and only one way the bigots can keep “marriage” to themselves and that is to take the government out of it entirely, including no longer giving married people “special rights,” such as automatic inheritance and right to make medical decisions for spouses and children.

    Well, you could stuff all the social and economic benefits into some sort of “civil union for all” framework. I believe various people suggested that a number of years back, but neither the pro- or con- side thought it was a good idea. The pro- side pointed out that this is still spiteful and dehumanizing (a form of ‘if we can’t keep the word, nobody can have it’), while the con- side thought it could prevent gay unions of any type and regardless of what they were called.

  • John Pieret

    The pro- side pointed out that this is still spiteful and dehumanizing (a form of ‘if we can’t keep the word, nobody can have it’)

    Yeah, I know, but it is the only way to even possibly get around the due process and equal protection objections to SSM bans. It would be simpler to just let LGBT people get “married” and buy some cotton wool to stuff in your ears to keep out the wailing of the religious right as they lay on their stomachs and pound their little fists and feet on the floor.

  • cptdoom

    My Nana’s older brother was a “confirmed bachelor” who had the same “roommate” for about 40 years. Everyone knew what was really going on, but my Nana refused to acknowledge the truth, even as she and her siblings socialized with the two men. In 1989 my great-uncle died and the hospital in FL tried to bar his “friend” as my great-uncle was dying. Nana insisted on his being at her brother’s side, going so far as to threaten to remove her brother against medical advice & transfer him to another facility, but first she would call every newspaper & TV station around to tell them why. The hospital set up a cot in the room that very day. I am so grateful she was there at that moment.

  • magistramarla

    It’s also horrible when children are ripped from the arms of their “other” Mommy or Daddy by “god-fearing” grandparents because the biological one died.

    The punishment of loving spouses and young children just because they happen to live in a SSM family really must end.

  • magistramarla

    cptdoom,

    Your Nana rocked!