I read something today on Republic of T’s blog about the CA Supreme Court decision that I think really illustrates why the marriage discussion is important and why, even though the CA decision is momentous, with the Defense of Marriage act in place, there can never be true equality.

Here’s a “for instance.” Let’s say that David and Jonathan, a same-sex couple legally married in the state where they live, go on vacation with Mary and Joseph, a legally married heterosexual couple who live down the street from David and Jonathan. They decide on a road trip to see some historic sites in the next state over.

After they cross the state line, they check into a hotel and decide to head out for dinner. On the way to dinner, the two couples are in an automobile accident. David and Joseph are both seriously injured, and both are rushed to the same hospital. Jonathan and Mary both make their way to the hospital. Mary tells the paramedics, “I’m his wife” and she rides along in the ambulance. Jonathan, unsure of how he’ll be treated — whether, as a partner in a civil union or domestic partnership from another state, he will be allowed to ride in the ambulance with David — asks a police officer for a ride to the hospital behind his “friend’s” ambulance. Well, at least they both make it to the hospital.

At the hospital, Mary tells the emergency room personnel, “I’m his wife,” and is ushered into an area with her husband, and later to a waiting area where she receives regular updates on his condition until she’s able to see him.

Jonathan, upon seeing David being removed from the ambulance, forgets his earlier caution, jumps out of the police car, and runs along behind David’s gurney as he’s wheeled to an examination area. At some point, a hospital employee notices Jonathan, stops him, and asks who he is. Upon saying “I’m his partner,” Jonathan is told that unless he can produce proof of their relationship, he will not be allowed to see David or get any information about his condition, because he is “not next of kin.”

Fortunately, David and Jonathan never travel without their legal documents — advanced directives, medical powers of attorney, etc. But Jonathan realizes the documents are in their luggage, back at the hotel. After looking up the number of a taxi service, a seemingly endless wait, and a equally long taxi ride back to the hotel, Jonathan finds the luggage, locates their documents, takes the taxi (which has been waiting) back to the hospital, shows them to hospital staff, and is finally admitted to see David.

It’s been at least three hours since they first arrived at the hospital, and longer since the accident itself. Mary, during this time, has been with her husband. All she needed was three words. Jonathan, on the other hand, had to retrieve legal documents to prove his relationship to David, and had to do so all the while not knowing David’s condition, or whether David would be alive when he got back to the hospital. Fortunately, Jonathan made it back in time. But sometimes we don’t.

He then links to a story from a Denver TV station:

John Crisci and Michael Tartaglia, his partner of 33 years, thought they had done everything right. They had wills and other paperwork drawn up giving each other the right to make medical and financial decisions for each other, and specifying which relatives should inherit their assets when they die.

They packed the papers for long trips Crisci didn’t have the documents with him when Tartaglia collapsed at a gym on the morning on his 70th birthday nearly two years ago. An EMT suggested he run home to get the paperwork rather than risk getting into a dispute with hospital officials over medical decisions.

Crisci knew he was too late when a doctor and chaplain were waiting to talk to him at the hospital. To him, the story shows why same-sex couples should be able to register as domestic partners and get many of the same rights as married couples under Colorado law.

“You don’t lose that extra 30 or 40 minutes which may be the last time you can hold on to each other,” Crisci said.

That’s one of my greatest fears. Not being allowed in, or getting there to late with the paperwork. And the thing is, I know there are other problems, arguably more important problems, facing our country right now. The economy is tanking, the mess in Iraq doesn’t get any better, rumors abound that Bush will instigate something in Iran before he’s out of office. There’s plenty to be angry about. And that makes me even angrier that these basic rights, these basic ways people care for each other, are not afforded to me and my partner, and so I have to spend energy working on those issues too. I didn’t intend so many of my posts here to be about gay rights, but honestly, it’s hard to feel secure enough to get involved in other political causes when, as a couple, we really aren’t allowed to care for our most basic needs.

Maybe it’s because I’ve been sick for about 10 days now, but I feel very discouraged about the whole thing, despite the “progress” of the CA decision. I’ve blown about 25 pounds of snot out of my nose in the past 2 days, and would really just like to feel better now.

Okay…something more optimistic next time, I promise…

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