BY JENNIFER MIRACLE-BEST
To Those Who Have Concerned Themselves with Other People’s Right to Marry:
I’m a fairly reasonable person. In fact, I would imagine that most of the people who are close to me would say that I might be one of the most diplomatic people they know. As such, I’ve done a lot of thinking and soul-searching, trying to understand exactly what your hang up is with other people having the opportunity to experience the same joy, companionship, peace of mind, security and federal protections that you experience as a married person.
After all, allowing other people to marry the person they love and wish to spend their life with will, in no way, prohibit you from continuing to be married to the person you love and have committed to spend your life with. It doesn’t prevent you from believing — erroneously or not — that your faith says it’s wrong. Unfortunately, it doesn’t even prevent you from filling your children’s minds and hearts with the same misinformation and hurtful prejudices that you yourself have acquired. All marriage equality does is provide the opportunity for ANY person to marry ANY other person that they love and wish to spend THEIR life with. That’s it. So, what the fuck is the problem?
I also find myself wondering why you can’t seem to understand how incredibly hurtful it is to withhold the right to marry from people. I mean, surely, you don’t understand because any human who understood that kind of pain would do whatever they could to relieve it… wouldn’t they? I have to believe that you truly just don’t understand, because the alternative is that you simply don’t give a shit, and well… that’s a reality I’m just not willing to deal with at this point. So, allow me to take my best shot at helping you to understand the kind of heartache that you’re inflicting on your fellow humans — some of them even your close family members — by withholding from them the same rights and protections that you enjoy everyday with your spouse for no good reason, other than you can. Admittedly, this is going to be a stretch for you, but I’m begging you please, to seriously try to envision yourself in this situation and to truly imagine how it would make you feel… and consider a change of heart.
Imagine that tomorrow, Congress passes a federal amendment to the US Constitution prohibiting marriage between people of the opposite gender, thereby nullifying your marriage with your current spouse as far as the government is concerned. If you have any children, only one parent will be given parental rights to each child. You can no longer share the same family name and the children will have to take the name of the parent that will be their legal guardian. You will no longer have access to your former spouse’s health insurance benefits and again, the children will only be eligible for health insurance benefits under the plan of the parent who becomes their legal guardian. You will no longer be eligible to file joint income tax returns. If your current living situation is in a place that is zoned for “families only,” your landlord or community will have the right to force you to find another living situation. Additionally, if your spouse was not a US citizen prior to your marriage, they will need to either return to their country of origin or pursue another route to obtaining their citizenship, perhaps through a same-gender spouse.
Should your partner become ill, and you are the primary caregiver, you will not be eligible for family leave time to care for them. This might not be too much of an issue, because in the event that you’re even allowed to visit your beloved partner in the hospital, you will no longer have the authority to make medical decisions for them in the event that they are unable to do that for themselves, anyway. If, heaven-forbid, your partner should pass away, you will have no right to their wages, workman’s comp, retirement, nor their estate.
You lose all of these rights simply because, presumably, one of you happens to have a vagina and the other a penis, and the government doesn’t like that. There’s nothing you can do about it, because your fellow citizens have made their wishes about your relationship the law of the land. Sounds absurd, doesn’t it? Exactly.