Mitt Romney, he of the perfect Mormon mishbucha, doesn't think my family is a real family. Of course, who knows what he really thinks, since his every calculated move is as sincere as a lap dance. On Hardball, Romney advisor Jim Talent made the typically convoluted statement "Look, he wants to know people to know he values gay people as people, okay? But he doesn't want the militant gays to be able to change the cultural institutions of the country." That sounds like a plantation owner saying, "Our maid Odessa is just like a member of the family" while making her eat on a TV tray in the kitchen.
Recently at the end of a performance I fell off the stage, badly injuring myself. I was either swept up in the adulation of the crowd or indulging an impromptu Ann-Margret fantasy. It happened faster than Romney flip flops, taking me completely by surprise, and I hit the floor at whatever MPH one hits the floor when not paying attention and falling 6 feet.
Since it happened out of town, I flew back home to be surrounded by family. My partner (that would be my domestic partner legally recognized by the City of New York) and our doctor swung into action, making the hospital and surgical arrangements. My partner picked me up at the airport and took me to the ER, which resembled the green room of The Jerry Springer Show. It turned out that I had severely dislocated my shoulder and fractured the humerus in 4 places. The doctor told me that had I fallen about an inch to the left, I would have broken my neck and you would not be reading this.
My partner was by my side in the ER, filling out forms, talking to residents and nurses, and making sure I was taken care of. He signed my health care proxy to guarantee he could make decisions should something go horribly wrong. He dealt with the surgical team we were meeting for the first time, to whom I was incapable of saying anything other than "duh." He was by my side when I woke up in the recovery room after four hours of surgery. He was there until all family members were told to go home. At no time did anyone in the hospital treat us like anything but family.
Had New York's domestic partner legislation - definitely a "change in the cultural institutions of the country" - not been taken care of many years ago and absorbed into the society, my partner wouldn't have been allowed past the front desk and I would have been alone.
Our health insurance provider includes me as a spouse on my partner's policy at work. The provider has treated us as a family in every way, helpfully answering questions and concerns. Had the provider listened to Mitt Romney and declined to cover domestic partners - another change in the cultural institutions of the country - I would be forced to buy my own freelance health insurance at about five times the cost or have none at all. None of my prescription meds would have been covered. My surgery and hospital bills for the 3-day visit will total over 25 grand, but that's another article.
My sister came from Georgia for a few days to take care of me after my partner went back to work. With my right arm and hand temporarily inoperable, it's amazing how many things I can't do. Eating without spilling is a great victory. But with my family here, it is easier. At no time, for 20 years, have my mother, father, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles or cousins treated my partner as anything but family.
In short, we are seen as a normal family by everyone in our lives, except for Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee and their "evangelical" followers, who don't even take the time to see gays as actual human beings with actual lives. They both give lip service to gays as "people," saying gays are "human" so please don't attack them and leave them bloody on the street because that requires expensive police activity.
But equality? Forget it. You see, we're too busy living our "lifestyle" of endless parties, fashion shows and boogie nights. We don't actually do things like break our shoulder and require assistance from family. These people will gladly vote down any legal protections for my partner and me, and in the name of "family values," try to destroy ours. The evangelicals would happily see me dead rather then compromise their precious "values."
I have news for Romney and Huckabee: There have already been significant "changes to the cultural institutions of the country," and society is moving forward with you or without you. Preferably without. In the meantime, my very real family is helping me heal.