Having been married (to a man) and then going through a traumatic divorce, I know first hand that marriage does not in any way, shape or form guarantee ‘happily ever after’. So do I still want the right to marry? The short answer is: Yes.
It’s definitely not because I think it ensures that my partner won’t leave me as easily as she might if there weren’t legal ties binding her to me. Painful as it was, I eventually did get divorced – so marriage is not a life long commitment any more. My partner and I have been a couple & lived together for over three years now. We’ve been through more changes in our lives in these three years than a lot of people go through in a life time. While I know nothing is certain, I also know that our relationship is stronger than a lot of marriages and I don’t need a stinking certificate to prove that to me.
What I do need that stinking certificate for is to know that we won’t have to live away from each other if something goes wrong in our immigration process. For those of you who don’t know, my partner is American. While some states in the US allow gay marriage, it is not recognised federally, which means that The Girl can’t sponsor me for immigration even if we’re married in those handful of states. And being gaysi means that there is no legal recognition of our relationship in India either. So if something were to happen to either of our work permits here in London, we face being separated from one another because neither of us can live in the others country – something that would never have been a problem if one of us was a man.
I am not exaggerating when I say that we have spent thousands of dollars to ensure that we get our immigration documents in order so that we never have to live apart. Even then, I have to wait till Gay Marriage becomes legal in either of our countries or till I get British citizenship – something that won’t happen for another 5 years, at the very least – to have some sort of guarantee that we won’t be forced apart by evil border forces.
We are in the process of hiring a solicitor to write wills and powers of attorneys so that if something happens to either one of us, there is some form of legal protection for us. Another bank breaker, but imagine being denied visitation rights if your partner is ill and admitted to a hospital, or your partner is the biological mother of your baby & you’re denied parental rights. This is not some melodramatic scenario – it happens all the time.
A Bakersfield, Calif., couple rushed their child to the emergency room with a 104 degree fever. The women were registered domestic partners, but the hospital only allowed the biological mother to stay with the child. Although hospitals typically allow both parents to stay with a child during treatment, in this case, the second parent was forced to stay in the waiting room.
A woman from Washington collapsed while on vacation in Miami. Although her partner had documentation of her relationship and a power of attorney, she claims hospital officials told her she wasn’t a family member under Florida law. The woman spent hours talking with hospital personnel in an effort to visit her partner’s bedside. Although she eventually prevailed, her partner’s condition had already deteriorated and the woman died. Because of the problem, the children the patient had adopted and been raising with her partner weren’t able to see her before she died. [Link: NYTIMES]
At the end of the day, I just want The Girl & I to have the same freedoms & rights that I had with my ex-husband. Why should we be denied those rights just because we’re both of the same gender? Would I be happy if the term marriage was replaced by ‘civil union’ or ‘domestic partnership’? On some levels, this would be more than enough for me, but I also know that there is an inherent discrimination involved in this approach. Separate is not always equal.