Friday, May 6, 2011
99 Days (2376 Hours)...
Well, we are down to counting the days in two digits. I was trying to think of something witty to do with a mutation of the song "99 bottles of beer on the wall" but I couldn't get the words and the rhymes to work. All wedding all the time from here on out? Well, not exactly, but we are getting a tad bit more focused.
I have said it before and I will probably say it a few more times before this part of the adventure gives way to a new part of the adventure: the process has been valuable and meaningful. Yesterday, while I was getting all the domestic partnership paperwork in order, which included a telephone call to the Lane County Clerk's office where a very personable woman tried to help me, I felt frustration at the legal realities in a very intense way. So much so, that I came home feeling a bit...off.
There is definitely a feeling of "less than" in the domestic partnership process. It is NOT a civil marriage and while it costs the same amount to apply and it will cost us the same amount to dissolve (if ever that becomes necessary), it just isn't the same and it doesn't feel the same. There won't be papers to sign at the time of the wedding like there were the first time both Teri and I got married to men and to be honest, it has the feeling of not quite real. No wonder people are confused--both gay and straight. Separate is NOT equal. We won't be filing joint Federal income tax and we still need to have all of the additional documents such as an Advance Directive and hope that they will suffice.
Last night, when I was talking it through with Teri, I asked her: "What do you think will happen with the whole domestic partnership paperwork when civil marriage equality passes? Will we have to get married again? Will we have to pay and file and pay close attention to how our relationship is protected?" I didn't have to think of any of these things the first time around! I genuinely believe that equality is inevitable, but I know I'm not alone in questioning and wondering. After all, I know plenty of people who actually went and got married in both Oregon and California when it was supposedly legal--only to receive letters in the mail telling them their marriage didn't count and that other people had both the power and the legal backing to strip them of the rights their neighbors enjoyed.
Like other marginalized and oppressed communities, we find a way to cope and validate and commit on our own terms. As Teri said, the ceremony and the vows are icing on the cake. Our relationship and our family is the cake and that is what really matters. It is a strange path, however, and one that sometimes takes more fortitude and patience than I think I can muster. The personable woman at the County Clerk's office couldn't actually answer my question, she suggested I contact an attorney. It isn't as simple as filling out a paper, applying for a license and knowing that we have stepped into a new conjoined life together. For us, we have to be cautious, careful and diligent and all of those qualities don't really sound terribly romantic do they?
99 days to go--99 days to go until what? For us and others like us, this is an ongoing journey...