It now appears that Marriage Equality might come to Texas before the temperature in hell dips below thirty-two degrees or pig sprout wings. Based on reports from those who were in attendance at the recent hearing of the Fifth Circuit Court, where challenges to Texas’ constitutional bans were heard, the judges appear poised to strike down the ban, making same-sex marriage in the Lone Star State a reality.
(And apparently terrifying for some. One state representative is so upset, he's introducing legislation which would make it a crime for County Clerks to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. In other words, he wants to force county employees to break Federal law rather than comply.)
I already have people asking when my partner and I plan to get married. We’ve been together for 16+ years, “living in sin,” as my genteel, Southern mother used to call it.
If you follow me on Facebook, if you’ve read my blog, if you’ve seen my rants online, you know that I passionately push for marriage equality. I write about it. I think it is right, and I think it’s the right time.
I’ve also made it clear that I want to get married.
On the first day of the new millennium (01-01-00), we stood together and spoke our vows of love and commitment to one another and before God. I don’t believe having that "piece of paper” would change the fundamental dynamic of our relationship, but it will provide some significant legal protections. And as someone who is living with a life-threatening disease, those protections are important to me. It also adds a legitimacy to our union. Introducing him as my “husband,” carries more weight than calling him my “partner,” which (to quote Neil Patrick Harris) makes it sounds like we’re in business together or we’re cowboys.
As it stands now, same-sex marriage is not recognized in my home state of Texas. We could go to another state and get married, and we'd get some Federal benefits, but our marriage would not be valid here.
But that could change...soon.
(I never thought I would see it in my lifetime.)
And when it happens, I will rejoice.
I will probably shed tears of joy.
But...I might not get married.
I know many are surprised at that statement (as am I), but consider this:
First, while marriage would become legal, other protections would not. There is a definite possibility that if we got married, my partner would be fired from his job; it’s happened with other organizations as states have legalized same-sex marriage. Texas is a right-to-work state, and employees can be fired without cause. He’s been with his company for 25 years, and he’s out to his bosses, but the company would be within their legal rights to fire him...simply because he's gay. There is no Federal or State protection against that kind of discrimination. Granted, he's noticed subtle changes in the organization's policies and position, but there is no way to know what kind of response he would get with this kind of blatant statement.
Author’s Note: I know there will be activists who read this and will be so cavalier to tell us he should quit his job, refusing to work for such an organizations. (They won't, however, offer to pay our bills!) We’ve heard it before by friends who are offended by his employment. (Hey, I even get it!) But for years, we’ve tried unsuccessfully to facilitate a job change for him. And now, with my disability status, we must have the income. (And for the record: I won’t disclose the employer.)
Second, my need for affordable health insurance. Obviously, I can’t go on my partner’s insurance. I’m on SS Disability, but not eligible for Medicare, so I must purchase my health insurance through the Healthcare Marketplace (aka, “Obamacare”). Being "single" and with my disability income, I was able to get a good policy we can (barely) afford. If we were married, they would require a combined income, and it could put their insurance out of our financial reach.
These are concerns that we are just now beginning to consider, particularly in light of what's happened in other places, with other organizations. So many questions will have to be sorted out before we put that groom and groom on top of a wedding cake. (Note: I don't share this for sympathy, to invite challenges, or to solicit advice. We'll do our research, and consult with experts.)
I’m not saying it will never happen, but we probably won’t be one of those couples who show up at the County Courthouse the first day after the announcement.
Marriage Equality is important, and it's something I believe in strongly and work for diligently.
Marriage may come to Texas, but there is still plenty of other work to be done as well. FULL equality is mandatory, which should include employment non-discrimination, spousal immigration status, adoption rights, housing, and so much more.
In a way (not to sound martyr-fied) I feel a bit like Moses. He worked for many years to bring the children of Israel out of bondage and into the Promised Land of freedom. However, in the end, he was only allowed to see the land, but could not enter with his people.
Moses died and never got to experience the benefits of all those years of passionate struggle.
I'm hopeful my ultimate outcome will be different.
But until then, Hey, Mo.’ This ‘mo feels your pain.