I DO… believe in gay marriage.

I DO… believe in Gay Marriage

Today, I’m attending the marriage of my friends Ron Emrich & Marc Coleman in Stamford, Connecticut. They live in Philadelphia, but they are getting married in Connecticut because it’s just one of the five states that allow gay people to marry (the others being Massachusetts, Iowa, Vermont and New Hampshire, plus the District of Columbia). But when they get back from their honeymoon, their marriage won’t be recognized in Pennsylvania because only three states (Maryland, New York, and Rhode Island) pledge non-discrimination against same-sex couples who’ve married in another state.

Ron & Marc

It’s almost impossible to believe that we’re still living in a country practicing this kind of wholesale discrimination against a group of people. As Meghan McCain said a few nights ago on television: It’s not about gay rights, it’s about equal rights. And I’m firmly of the mind that gay people should have the opportunity to suffer through marriage just like the rest of us (although in my experience, gay couples seem to be a lot nicer to each other than most straight people I know).

In any event, it’s not just the wedding that’s involved –although that’s an economic stimulation package all its own—an estimated $9.5 billion windfall for wedding planners, caterers and frou-frou providers we’re missing out on. No, what’s really at issue are all the state & federal protections and privileges that come with marriage that gay people are systematically being denied.

Andrew & Jeffrey

My friends Andrew Harker & Jeffrey Knollmiller were married in California before Prop. 8, so they can still inherit each other’s estates, share family insurance, and be entitled to each other’s social security, but today, thousands of other same-sex couples can’t – creating two levels of citizenry, which is clearly unconstitutional.

Jimmy & Garrett

And my friends Garrett Van Allen & Jimmy Ebersole will never get married because they lived in Georgia and before they could travel to a different state to wed, Garrett died of liver cancer. Jimmy was the most devoted caregiver I’ve ever seen – going to every doctor’s visit, lavishing attention and care on Garrett at home, and spending every day in the hospital right up until the bitter end. Yet still, Jimmy was not entitled to make any medical decisions for Garrett, and when the “real” family finally arrived, they were entitled to all Garrett’s possessions and finances, and had full control of the funeral. And if Garrett & Jimmy had adopted children; Jimmy could have been completely denied all parental rights to the children he had raised.

This kind of discrimination and injustice is obscene. If two people love each other and want to shackle themselves together for all eternity, they should have the freedom to do it. And equal protection under the law is a right, not something that depends on your sexual orientation.

My $100 today goes to Freedom to Marry, a wonderful advocacy group working to advance the cause. To join me, click here . And Happy Wedding Day, Ron & Marc!!!

14 thoughts on “I DO… believe in gay marriage.

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  2. You mention Garrett Van Allen – do you know if he grew up in Baltimore? I worked with (and dated briefly) a David Garrett Van Allen who worked at Farrell’s in Balto. The picture you show looks a great deal like my memory of him.

    For the record, I’m a wedding officiant in WV. I did a commitment service for two of my dearest friends a few years ago. One of the two only lived a couple years more, and I miss him terribly. Luckily his partner had the full support of the family.

    • Hi Diana! I will definitely check with my friend Jimmy, Garrett’s life partner, but I do believe that he grew up in Texas… or Florida. I am so happy that you are a wedding officiant in West Virginia doing commitment services … I just want people in love to be able to have the same privileges and rights all over this country. It’s so important!! thanks for writing!

  3. As a parent of a lesbian in a loving relationship with a wonderful woman, I thank you Betty for speaking up for the millions of GLBT people around the world who, as you explained above, live with constant humiliation and discrimination.

    You mentioned Proposition 8 [on California’s fall 2008 ballot – it revoked the rights of gay and lesbian couples to be legally married there.] Did you know that it’s largest supporter was the Mormon Church? A church where a man can have still as many wives as he likes, but a woman is permitted to marry only one man.

  4. A day late in reading the post, but I remember you describing your friend Jimmy and his incredible devotion to Garrett. Love to him.
    I fully intend to dance the mother/son dance at Jake’s wedding!

  5. AMEN! If we are worried about the “sanctity” of marriage, we should go after the holier-than-thou family values advocates that turn out to be philanderers. The notion that a committed loving relationship can be illegal in any state is just wrong, wrong, wrong.

  6. Great post, Betty. We’ll look back on this issue someday and find it hard to believe it took so long to fix — just as we now do with slavery, civil rights, suffrage for women, and all of the other injustices we’ve left behind.

  7. Thanks Betty,
    Life for our GLBT friends is a little kinder here in Canada, however the battles are not totally won.
    Gender discrimination left out of the equation, still leaves many other minority issues in the narrow minds of many.
    -jan-

  8. Betty, have a wonderful time at Ron and Marc’s wedding and be sure to send them our best wishes!

    For clarification, Andrew and I do NOT have the right to inherit each other’s social security benefits, as we are not recognized as a married couple on a federal level “thanks to the Defense of Marriage Act”. So, we cannot file federal tax returns as a married couple, and are not entitled to other benefits afforded married couples by the U.S. government.

    Further, should we travel to any of the states that do not recognize gay marriage, we have no legal rights at all, and run the risk of being denied hospital visitation rights should, god forbid, anything happen to one of us while in one of those states.

    So, the fight is far from over for us and for everyone in the LGBT community, but with the love and support of friends and family like you, we know full equality will come.

    Thank you dear friend!
    Jeff & Andrew

    • Wow, Jeff — I had NO idea that even though you’re legally married, you’re still not entitled to each other’s SS benefits! What a load of crap this is. The more I think about it (and we straight people better start working on correcting this injustice) the more upset I get. Thanks so much for clarifying this issue — sorry for the error! xoxoxo b

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