Monday, May 03, 2010

An Avoidable Tragedy In Sonoma County

I want you to imagine something... Especially if you are heterosexual...

You've been married for twenty years. You and your wife (or husband) are entering those "golden years." You have memories and a home and happiness, if not health. Your partner, eleven years your senior, has become frail. But you still love each other as much as ever. And all the struggles are made easier by the ability to spend time with the love of your life in the house that the two of you have made into a home.

Then, disaster. Your partner falls down the front steps. Imagine the pain, the horror of their injury, your feeling of helplessness.

Now, imagine that the hospital won't let you visit your wife. Worse, they claim that she has no relatives and make all her decisions for her, ignoring your documented and proven legal rights in the matter. Ignoring wills, powers of attorney, all the legal paperwork you were so careful to have in order for just this reason. Then they acquire access to one of your joint bank accounts and drain it to pay bills.

But it gets worse. They evict you from your home, sell off all your joint possessions and force you into a nursing home. And then the worst of all...

She dies. You never get to say goodbye. You have been denied access to the love of your life over the final weeks. Irreplaceable moments.

Couldn't happen? Ask Clay Greene.

Why The Word Marriage Is So Important

Clay had all this happen when his partner of twenty years, Harold, became injured. Clay and Harold,knowing this could happen if they were not careful, did everything right. They got all their ducks in the right rows, had all the paperwork. But of course, they were not "married." By the time they had a short window when that could have happened, it was too late.

Can you imagine this happening to a heterosexual woman whose husband fell down those steps? Or a man whose wife fell? Say yes and I will call you a liar, to your face. You know better.

This is why, until all the playing fields are equal, powers of attorney and domestic partnership filings and any officially recognized relationship that is tagged as the equivalent of marriage... isn't. Just as separate but equal was far from equal in the Jim Crow South.

Greene vs. The County of Sonoma goes before a court this July. Details of the case can be found here. A way that you can do something to help can be found here, at All Romance eBooks.

Of course, you can also help simply by talking about it. Write a blog. Talk to friends. Confront people who try to play "separate but equal" semantics with marriage equality the same way you would if they used that language about race or gender or religion.

This tragedy could have been prevented. Nothing we can say or do or feel or pray can get Clay a single second more with Harold. But just maybe, we can keep this from happening to Mary & Judy, or Robert & Joseph, or yes, Will and Alessia.

It's not about religion or tradition or labels or morality. It is about love.