I must admit, I never thought marriage was in the cards for me. Aside from the fact that same-sex marriage isn’t legal in my state, I chalked it up to consistently making poor choices in the relationship department. But the U.S. Supreme Court rulings today on DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) and California’s Proposition 8 has made me rethink that. Not for myself, but for all of those who want not just the legal benefits of marriage, but the recognition as well.
I was at a party a few weeks ago for a friend’s birthday. Laughter and fun prevailed all afternoon. In attendance were two other friends, a gay male couple, who were speaking about their upcoming civil union ceremony. A young lady in attendance didn’t have a full understanding of what it all meant, and asked the question.
“Imagine if you will that you and your boyfriend are married,” my friend began, “and God forbid he dies. There is no question of you inheriting his estate without any legal or taxable issues, right”
She nodded in agreement.
“Now, imaging the same scenario for the two of us. Suppose I die, and want to leave my entire estate to my partner. Even though we are joined in a civil union, my death and his inheritance becomes a huge taxable occurrence for him. Does that seem fair?”
The young lady looked at him with a new sense of understanding…and compassion.
“Not at all,” she replied.
I am paraphrasing the actual story a bit, but this is the gist of the content. Did I mention that the gay couple in question has been together for 34 years? I would say that in this instance, that is quite a significant part of the story.
Even though the Supreme Court stopped short of a sweeping ruling on gay marriage with Proposition 8, the death of DOMA is of huge significance. While understandable in its conception, DOMA is been lorded over the gay community like the sword of Damocles for years. Now, with its death, states can re-examine their own laws. I suspect that while today has been a great victory, to battle has just begun for the 35+ states that currently have a same-sex marriage ban on their books.
Later today, my friends will be holding their civil union ceremony in a downtown courthouse. While seemingly less significant to some yesterday, it means quite a bit more today. It means that the struggles and prejudice the have experienced through their 34 years together have not been for naught, and that their relationship takes another step forward to complete equality not just for themselves, but for all of us.
As for me, I do have someone who is becoming more and more significant in my life now. Will we get to the point of the “talk” about a civil union…or heaven forbid…marriage? It’s too soon to say…at least from where I sit. But should the topic come up sometime in the future, I may consider it a bit more seriously. I never thought it was in the cards for me. But he is changing my mind…and today’s Supreme Court rulings are helping to plead his case as well.