It was a normal pregnancy – until now. An infection caused her to spike a fever and she had to have an emergency c-section. It was touch and go for awhile and Mom was worried that she might not survive.
And so was her wife.
Well, not really her wife in Texas because gay marriage was not recognized in their home state. They had been together for years, had another child together, but the law in Texas would not allow them to marry, and did not recognize their marriage as valid. This was supposed to be a joyous time, but they were terrified.
You see, if something happened and Mom died during childbirth, their child would become an orphan. The Mom’s wife had absolutely no legal rights here involving their child.
As it turned out, Mom and Baby were fine. And the couple is now recognized by Texas as legally married thanks to the Supreme Court ruling. As she spoke on Friday night at a gay marriage celebration event, she said, “No one should ever have to go through that. No one.”
Marriage Equality is the law of the land. Any two consenting adults may now marry, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. This is a historic milestone.
But this victory goes far beyond the right to marry.
It includes parental rights for both parents in a marriage, the right to be at the deathbed of one’s partner, the right to inherit the partner’s property, and so much more.
I once asked an anti-gay friend about these other rights. He said there is no need for Marriage Equality because any rights LGBTQ people don’t have — besides the right to marry, of course — they can gain by legal process. Just write a will or document to insure your wishes.
That is an answer from someone who has never had to live with these terrifying fears. That is an answer from someone whose child is never at risk of becoming an orphan. And that is an answer from someone who wants a compassionate response that does not threaten the religious box he is in.
After all, no one wants to be a villain. But, in fact, it falls far short of the reality.
My friend Darla told me that Marriage Equality ensures that an outstanding 1,138 federal rights apply to Darla and her wife Tavia. (They married last year in Massachusetts, because marriage was not legal in their state of Louisiana.)Darla listed just a few of those rights she and Tavia now enjoy as a legally married couple:
- Tavia can stay with me in the hospital.
- She can arrange my funeral.
- The community property laws of our state now apply to us. (Before Friday if she’d died, her brother would have inherited everything she had if he chose to challenge our wills.)
- We can now make medical decisions for each other.
- She can now take my death certificate and access anything of mine as a legal spouse.
- She cannot be made to testify against me … LOL
- Social security benefits for death of spouse.
- We get spousal coverage for insurance.
- We now qualify for family leave if one of us is injured or critically ill.
- Our federal income tax return is no longer in conflict with our state income tax.
- We don’t have to pay inheritance tax on what one inherits from the other. (That was the whole point of the Windsor decision last year.)
- We can now adopt. (Louisiana would not let unmarried people adopt.)
- And lastly studies show married people live longer. <3
Just tell me, you who have been told to treat others the way you want to be treated: would you like to be denied these and countless other benefits because of your gender or orientation? No, you wouldn’t. Despite your thoughts about this, you would not appreciate having fewer rights under the law.
Despite what you have been taught about this, denying rights is marginalizing others. It is not loving. It is not Christian.
Darla reminds me that many protections under the law are STILL denied LGBTQ people. In most states, they can still be fired from their jobs or denied housing for their orientation.
We are working on that.
Darla said, “We can go to only two churches in town without being condemned, judged and even asked to leave.”
We are working on that too.
So, yes, we’ve got some ways to go, and we will never, ever stop. But for right now, we’re celebrating. 🙂