Our country is spectacularly beautiful and I’ve been to 44 of the states within it. While traveling home from Washington DC this past weekend, it occurred to me again how wonderful it is to live in this country and be able to travel from state to state without checkpoints or having to demonstrate why you are where you are (remember the line from the Hunt for Red October when the Executive Officer of the Russian submarine expresses awe at that ability?). But, my patriotism was tainted by a nagging feeling that I couldn’t put my finger on.
As the Girl and I hiked through magnificent Shenandoah National Forest, enjoying the beauty of the countryside and the wildlife (we saw hawks, and deer and my first ever in-the-wild black bear!) I twice came close to requiring medical assistance. First, as we hiked back up a long, steep trail I experienced shortness of breath and a pain in my left arm. We both knew that those could be symptoms of a heart attack. Later, being stupid, I fell as we were climbing some rock formations. As it turned out, of course, I didn’t have a heart attack and all I did was scrape the palms of my hands when I fell. But, we were in Virginia. What would have happened if I needed emergency medical attention and I was unconscious? Would they have let her make medical decisions on my behalf? Would it matter that The Girl had a copy of our marriage license in her wallet? Would it have mattered that my last name and hers were the same (I changed my last name a couple of weeks ago – hyphenated it to include her last name into mine)? Thankfully, we didn’t have to find out. But, there is no shortage of stories of couples who are denied that ability.
In a handful of states, gay and lesbian couples are allowed to enter into either marriage or civil unions that ostensibly provide them with all the state-sanctioned rights and obligations of heterosexual marriage. As we were traveling, that nagging feeling finally crystallized into the thought that among the various benefits denied to same-sex married (or civilly united) couples is the loss of that legal relationship and accompanying protections as couples travel state-to-state. In the end, this seems to me to be one of the most hateful results of the Defense Of Marriage Act (DOMA) and the so-called mini-DOMAs passed by various states. In our own state of Michigan a constitutional amendment was passed two years ago (the infamous Proposition 2) that said “the union of one man and one woman in marriage shall be the only agreement recognized as a marriage or similar union for any purpose.” It’s that last phrase – “for any purpose” – that is problematic. That language is being used to remove insurance protections for gay and lesbian families and children. Can you believe that the Christian right has actually filed lawsuits (two, so far) to require state-funded institutions to stop providing insurance to domestic partners and their children based on this amendment? How hateful is that? The consequences of denying protections to individuals and families as they travel is, as yet, undocumented. I fear it will require tragic circumstances to ultimately cause the courts to step in and right these wrongs.OK, I have much more to say about this, but it’s Friday morning and my Girl and I are headed to Denver, this morning, for 3 days to visit family (my sisters and her brother) and then up to Yellowstone for 4 days. I still have some last minute packing to do. Expect no more posts for about 8 days. I hope all of you are having a great summer and that none of my LGBT readers provide the test case that ultimately challenges the inequities foisted upon us by the hate-filled political right.