Thursday, July 03, 2008
Today marks forty-four years to the date that I met my life partner, Bill. We count this day as our anniversary since our union is not recognized a legitimate by current law in these United States of America. Would we like to be officially married as is in the news these days with so many same sex couples? To be honest, we never thought much about it nor do we have a burning desire to perform a ceremony to show the world that we are a couple. We know that we are life partners and that is all that matters to us. Of course we would like the financial benefits and legal protections that heterosexual couples have benefited from since time immemorial. Over the years we have managed to make other arrangements that protect our assets should one of us die before the other. However, we have not been able to cover all situations but that is changing. Perhaps the most visible example of that happened recently when I had a medical emergency earlier this year. As I was being wheeled in the local emergency room, one of the attendants motioned to Bill, who was standing against a wall and asked "Who is that?" I said "My partner." She looked at him and, without hesitation said "Come on!" and motioned with her hand for him to follow us. As much pain as I was in (later I found out I was passing a kidney stone), I felt a lump in the throat with the realization that finally, Bill and I were being treated just like anyone else. We still have a long way to go in this country towards recognition and acceptance of same sex couples but this one instance proved that some small progress is being made. Bill's presence was never questioned again during the 4 1/2 hours I was in the emergency room. Perhaps this local emergency room's attitude towards same sex couples came about because of the large gay and lesbian older population of the Rehoboth Beach area. Inevitably, many of the older men and women who pass through their emergency room will be gay and lesbian. Perhaps the Powers That Be realized that life and living isn't reserved exclusively for heterosexual couples. Whatever the reason, it refreshing to see such small signs of progress towards recognition of same sex couples. A few months ago, when I reinvented this blog I vowed not to get on my soapbox (I'll get on my soapbox in separate blogs), but I am making an exception this time. Little did I imagine on that summer evening , forty-four years ago, when I met Bill at that center city bar on the corner of 15th and Spruce Streets, that one day we would be living as an openly gay couple in a family neighborhood. The sky hasn't fallen and straight couples haven't seen their marriages break up because we moved into the neighborhood. I cannot imagine what life will be like forty-four years from now. We won't know, but at least in our lifetime we have reason for celebration. Happy anniversary Bill.