Beloved and I had opportunity to see this film not too long ago, and it has been much on my mind lately. It is about the seven couples who filed suit in New Jersey to be permitted to marry-- same sex couples, of course. During the litigation, Marilyn Maneely, one of the plaintiffs, was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease). The disease progressed rapidly. She was dead in 10 months.
The documentary shows vividly that the situation faced by Marilyn and her partner Diane Marini is precisely why same-sex couples want access to the institution of marriage. It is not so that they/ we can feel validated, or feel that we're equals to couples consisting of "one man and one woman" (as my particular denomination defines marriage). We know our relationships are valid. We know we are the equals of every one of God's children. We want access to this institution so that we can have access to the more than 1100 privileges afforded to those with that little piece of paper. Privileges such as being able to have a conversation with your beloved's doctor. After Marilyn died, the research center to which her body was donated wouldn't accept Diane's signature on the paperwork; Marilyn's son had do sign. Insult upon insult.
This has been much on my mind, as Beloved has recently had somewhat of a brush with her sense of her own mortality. (By way of an update, the C/T scan showed no sign of cancer, but she needs to have it repeated in six months. She still has her symptoms, and sees a specialist tomorrow.) One of the things we talked about over that long weekend was her business, as I've already mentioned. She is planning to train me to do certain aspects of her bookkeeping, just in case she should find herself incapacitated... at any point in the future. But we are not even looking at the kinds of things the couple in the documentary experienced, things like who has access to health information, who can visit the bedside in the hospital, who can sign consent forms. It is all pretty overwhelming.
The truth is, Beloved's and my lives are still largely separate. I live in my house, and she in hers. We are together every other weekend and when we can steal mornings or evenings. But we are not living together, and we are not married, and I don't know if that will ever be an option for us, no matter what state law dictates. While I remain closeted, these are our choices. But even when/ if I should come bursting through that door, our lives are more complicated than can be solved by a marriage license.