Some of you may be wondering why the LGBT community is making such a big deal over marriage equality. Simply put, it's for peace of mind. There are over 1,138 federal rights, protections and responsibilities that married straight couples take for granted and don't even think about. If you are in a same-sex relationship, it's not the same. These denied rights are something that we have to worry about on a daily basis, all because we love someone who happens to be of the same sex.
One denied right that worries me the most is the following:
The right to make decisions on a partner's behalf in a medical emergency. Specifically, the states generally provide that spouses automatically assume this right in an emergency. If an individual is unmarried, the legal "next of kin" automatically assumes this right. This means, for example, that a gay man with a life partner of many years may be forced to accept the financial and medical decisions of a sibling or parent with whom he may have a distant or even hostile relationship.
Ten years ago, when I first met Jeff, the man I call and consider my husband, this was not a concern of mine or something I worried about at all. However, as we both get older and find that we need medical care from time to time, it is something I worry about more and more. Jeff is a divorced man with three kids and several anti-gay next of kin. I fear that I could be in for quite a battle if Jeff ever became majorly ill.
Yes, it is true that there are different legal documents that Jeff and I could and should have in place, like a power of attorney and a will that would hopefully prevent his anti-gay relatives from taking the decision away from me. However, why should we have to go through the expense and the red tape of doing that when, if same-sex marriage were recognized by the United States, we could get married like our straight counterparts and be protected? It doesn't seem fair to me.
Moreover, even if we had these documents in place, it wouldn't mean that one of his anti-gay next of kin couldn't contest it and try to fight it in court. The last thing that you'd want when your spouse is sick and in the hospital is to have to worry about whether you have the right to decide what should be done for your spouse, or, if you do have that right, whether a family member will come in and attempt to deny you that decision. All you'd want is for your loved one to receive the medical attention they need and then return home with you, where they belong. So you see that it's not just about equality; it's about having peace of mind where we didn't have it before.
This blog post originally appeared on Diary of a Drag Queen's Husband.
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