The 26th of September 2006 marks my 18th anniversary with my partner Lee.
Unlike heterosexual couples we don’t have a wedding day to mark our anniversary. After we were together for a while we decided to look back and “choose” a date for our anniversary. We chose the date when we first said “I love you” to the other. Other gay couples have used the date that the met, or the date that they first consummated their relationship, all sorts of milestones- but unless you have married in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts over the past year or so- you don’t have a wedding day to serve as “the date”.
18 years together and we still don’t have equality of recognition for our relationship that heterosexuals who maybe met the same day that we did but are long divorced had for their relationship. Seems a little odd doesn’t it?
Due to the laws in California as registered domestic partners- we do have many of the rights of married people- but if we moved out of state- those rights are gone with the wind. We and our gay brothers and lesbian sisters have been vilified by the radical right. But why? What is so odd about our domestic lives? We care for one another, support one another, we are hard working, community and civic minded men, and we care about others and donate time and money to causes that help folks less fortunate than we are. Sounds threatening doesn’t it?
I have AIDS, my partner is HIV negative. It was that way when we met and remains that way 18 years later. So- we are obviously not careless men, we are committed to one another and keeping one another healthy and lively. I have had a number of down periods in my health- including one hospitalization. Lee was there for me and took care of me. When he had a scare with a cardiac episode a few years back- I was there for him. We worry about one another, care for one another, enjoy life with one another and support one another. Our lives are inextricably linked – where one’s soul starts and the other’s ends is impossible to assess. My family has embraced Lee and his has embraced me. Is that really any different than a man and a wife?
But still we cannot marry. We do not have the same recognition from society as our straight counterparts. Marriage in this country is both religious and civil. I don’t particularly want to join a club that doesn’t want me- so I really don’t care if the Catholic, Episcopal, or any other faith recognizes my relationship. I do care that the country where I live and pay taxes and believe in does not want to give me equal rights.
We are not a threat to the social fabric. By recognizing our relationship the government is supporting loving commitment. Doesn’t that help society? Doesn’t that help improve our collective lot in life?
I certainly have not judged couples who have divorced, why should Lee and I be judged for being a couple for 18 years? I’d really like to know!