This is what my life looks like:
I am an adult heterosexual female. I live with an adult heterosexual male. We have expressed, both verbally and through the way we live, our commitment to each other. We each wear a ring that symbolizes that commitment. We share responsibilities: grocery shopping, bills, housework-though I will say that the housework sharing could use a little work. When I go off to my other job, the man that I live with cares for my children. He cooks dinner, makes sure medicine is dispensed on time, tends to cuts and scrapes and hurt feelings, gets them to necessary appointments. When the boys had a friend over and were immersed in a video game, he noticed that my daughter seemed to be feeling lonely, so he sat and kept her company while she watched her silly tween-girl Disney programs-not exactly prime viewing for a Star Trek-obsessed musician, but he made sure she had someone to hang out with. He’s never been an athlete, but when my son wanted to go to the baseball field and practice today, they went together, biking there and then stopping for ice cream on the way back. On my first day at a new job recently, he surprised me at work with the kids, and they took me out to lunch.
We watch movies with the kids, go to the park and the playground, take our little dog hiking, have cookouts and birthday parties and family meetings about chores. My children are lucky: they have a mother who loves them, a father who loves them, AND significant adults in their parents’ respective lives who love them.
A marriage license in our county costs $60. That’s not a lot of money for some people, but for us it’s a week’s worth of gas-a month and a half of dance lessons for baby girl-a rare meal out for all of us-new shoes for the boys… it’s not money that we have to spare. We choose to spend that money on things that we need, rather than a piece of paper that says we’re married. I’m opposed to legal marriage for reasons other than the cost: the fact that my gay friends are denied that right makes me reluctant to take advantage of it, and our government is so corrupt in so many other ways, I have no desire whatsoever to seek their approval of my relationship.
If passed, Amendment One would make it impossible for my children to get health insurance under my partner’s plan, if he got a job that offered it. That would mean they’d either have to stay on the state plan, costing taxpayers money, or they’d go uncovered. If something happened to him and he was in the hospital with visitation restricted to family only, the children he cares for and loves like his own wouldn’t be able to visit. If I became incapacitated and a decision had to be made about ending my life or keeping me alive via machine, that burden would be placed on my older two children, who are barely adults. I can’t imagine having to make that decision for my mother now, much less at age 18 or 20. The person to whom I am closest, who knows me better than anyone else, would have no legal right to ensure that my wishes were followed-he wouldn’t even be allowed in to say goodbye, under Amendment One. Those rights would only be offered to people who are legally married, and to the children of those unions.
Let’s look at some hypothetical situations: A woman is married to an abusive man who cheats on her and leaves her for another woman, but will not sign divorce papers. Some time later, the woman is in a healthy relationship with a man who treats her well. The woman is in an accident and is hospitalized in critical condition-only family are allowed to visit. Supporters of Amendment One believe it’s okay that the woman’s estranged and abusive husband could visit her-but the man who cares for her could not.
A child is raised from infancy by a man who acts as his father, in every way. The child calls the man “Dad” and has no contact with his biological father. Supporters of Amendment One don’t believe that that child has a right to say goodbye to the only father he’s ever known on his hospital deathbed.
A woman becomes terminally ill. Supporters of Amendment One believe that her parents, who cursed at her and threw her out of their home when she revealed that the name of the person she loved was Ann, not Adam, should be allowed to visit her and make end-of-life decisions, but Ann, with whom she has lived and been in love for 15 years, should not.
Supporters of Amendment One believe that children are only entitled to healthcare if their parents are legally married.
Supporters of Amendment One believe that a $60 piece of paper means more than the way a couple cares for each other.
Supporters of Amendment One believe that my friends, a gay couple who have been together for 13 years, don’t deserve the right to marry-but that the heterosexual barhop and the abusive crackhead with whom she hooked up and drunkenly agreed to marry two days ago, after he beat her and threatened to kill her dog, do.
Supporters of Amendment One believe that their religious beliefs trump the civil rights of anyone who doesn’t believe as they do, and that the lives of those who are different not in thought or in action but by virtue of an inherent trait that they cannot control are worth less than their own.
Supporters of Amendment One remind me a whole lot of a puny little asshole named Adolf, and that is why I voted against it, and will continue to fight similar legislation until we defeat this bigotry, ignorance and hate.