This week, the Senate Judiciary Committee continues to debate the Respect for Marriage Act, which may finally get rid of the Defense of Marriage Act.
I've been with my friend, partner, lover, comrade, spouse (I don't like the word "husband," because it seems to imply that I'm his wife, and that is hardly our story) for over 50 years. We're told that only 50 percent of all marriages last that long, so we're among the lucky ones. We were married in 2008, when Massachusetts made it a legal option -- and our home state of Connecticut now recognizes it. If the federal government recognized same-sex marriage, when one of us died, the other would get health benefits, his partner's social security and a big break on inheritance taxes. But we undoubtedly won't be alive when the country finally endorses same-sex marriage, even though everyone seems to think that that is an eventuality. At the moment our recognition as a married couple in our state has benefitted us only in reducing our AAA dues.
None of us, except the people who've caused the situation, can be unaware of the confusion and misery that young people are going through today. Not only is the economy rotten, but the moral standard of our once-great country seems to be on the skids. How can any of our young people be expected to believe in meaningful, productive, loving lifetime relationships when 50 percent of all first marriages end up in divorce? Add to this the fact that gay couples are treated as lesser citizens, and they might be tempted to ask, why not whoop it up and never grow old? As long as we are not allowed to marry, we will not be equal to the rest of our compatriots and will be regarded as less than they, or, in some cases, as freaks. This is the reason for bullying and teenage suicide -- we are being looked down on with the endorsement of the federal government.
It is bad enough that same-sex couples who have been together for years have no tax advantages, still may have to show powers of attorney to accompany their partners into hospitals, cannot keep their lovers from being deported if they are undocumented and won't inherit without losing half of the money they may have saved together. But the moral issue is worse. Until same-sex couples can be married legally, they will never be given the equal respect and treatment that our country promised its people and which our founding fathers hammered into the Constitution. We have to remember that we should all be given the same advantages and rights regardless of race, religion or sexual preference. It's just one of the building blocks that will show the world that we're a great, just, free, democracy where all people have an equal share in government.
There's one other very serious aspect to defeating DOMA. As it stands, setting homosexuals apart encourages homophobia and all the people who would like to get rid of gays, whom they consider sick or degenerate, or, worse, a danger to their communities. If people are equal, it's more difficult to turn some of them into scapegoats. Everything should be done to stop the uneducated hate in our country. Think for a moment what would happen if everything created by homosexuals in the history of the world were removed by the delete button on that great computer in the sky. Do we want to live in such a world? Then for God's sake, get rid of the Defense of Marriage Act, which is already declared unconstitutional, and let us all be equal and free in "the land of the free."
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