THE BLOG

Inalienable 'Benefits'?

10/23/2012 02:59 pm ET | Updated Feb 02, 2016

If Car A and Car B are heading in opposite directions and each arrives at the same four-way stop intersection, Car A is granted the right of way if that car arrives first. In most states. But in some states, if the driver of Car A is gay, the heterosexual driver of Car B can decide whether or not to grant the "benefit" of allowing the gay driver to proceed first. Correct?

Well, no. The above example is ridiculous, because all American drivers follow the same set of laws and have the same rights, regardless of sexual orientation, or gender, or age, or race or anything else. However, the example's twisted logic about rights follows the same thinking that Mitt Romney is employing with regard to hospital visitation rights... er, I mean visitation "benefits." Romney campaign advisor Bay Buchanan told BuzzFeed this past week that Mr. Romney believes "that it should be left to states to decide whether to grant same-sex couples certain benefits, such as hospital visitation rights...."

Fortunately, neither my partner nor I has been in a hospital for a major health issue. But if it ever happens, if I end up in a hospital one day, for instance, I will not consider it a "benefit" to allow my partner of 17 years into my hospital room. It is not a benefit, or a privilege, a plus or an extra. It is a fundamental right. My well-being depends on the support that I will receive from my partner. And the decisions that must be made in that hospital room will affect him most directly. If my health care hurts us financially, he needs to help me decide how to proceed with treatment. If I must choose to take time off work for health reasons, this will alter my life... and his, too. If I require physical rehabilitation at home, it is my partner who will need to assist me. How can it be a "benefit" to allow life-altering decisions to be made with the person who will be most affected?

Mitt Romney has had the unfortunate problem of dealing with major health issues facing his partner, Ann. His website states, "With the help of her family, good doctors, and her beloved horses, she persevered, fought her way back to health, and is now seeking new ways to help others, especially those who suffer from life-changing illnesses." Mr. Romney's own website says that Mrs. Romney was helped by her family. Well, my partner is my family. So I would also like to have the right to have my family help me through rough times. For Ann Romney, being with her family when she needed them most was a right, but for me, it is a "benefit" that may or may not be granted, depending on where I live?

One would think that Mrs. Romney's health problems would have made Mr. Romney more empathetic toward those facing similar problems, but apparently not. Based on the many statements that Mitt Romney has made about gay Americans, I feel that he does not see the bond he has with his wife as equal to the bond I have with my partner. His website claims that "[m]arriage is more than a personally rewarding social custom. It is also critical for the well-being of a civilization." Yet he wants to deny marriage rights to me and my partner. Romney does not even want me to have the right to see my partner if he is lying in need in a hospital room.

I do not want someone to be my president if he treats me as "lesser than," if he is condescending, if he does not care to get to know what life is like outside his own little bubble. Just as he could not empathize with the dog that he famously strapped to the roof of his car for 12 hours as he drove to a vacation spot, he cannot understand what life is like for gay Americans. If he becomes our president, what other rights (besides marriage rights and hospital visitation rights) will be deemed "benefits" for gay people?

So, please, Mr. Romney, stop saying that you "care about 100 percent of the American people." You would only care about the 100 percent if every one of us Americans matched your limited view of "normalcy" and we were all basically just like you.