February 12, 1998 · Cavalier Daily

Same-sex Unions Deserve Equal Rights

A gay columnist writes about the current lack of legal protection surrounding gay marriage, and passionately asserts that same-sex unions are loving partnerships, and not morally wrong. She encourages the replacement of the religious term "marriage" with the more legal term "union," as she believes that same-sex unions should be legalized.


1998-02-12 Cavalier Daily Same-sex Unions Deserve Equal Rights.pdf
Terrilynn Platt
Cavalier Daily
Cavalier Daily
Same-sex Unions Deserve Equal Rights
I HAVE a recurring nightmare I want to share. I am in my mid-40s living a relatively comfortable life. Then I get a call that my spouse of 15 years has been in an accident and is dying in the intensive care unit the hospital. My heart starts to break because I cannot imagine living without my lifelong partner.
When I arrive at the hospital, I am prevented from seeing her. Her parents, who always have resented me, decided to bar me from her room. She is unconscious so she cannot speak for herself. Several years earlier she and I had drawn up legal papers so that this situation would never happen, but by the time I get through mess of forcing the doctor to accept them, she is dead. I miss the chance to say goodbye to her.
The nightmare does not end there. My spouse died without a will. The house we shared, in which we both had invested a substantial amount of money, is taken from me because only her name appeared on the deed. I lose our car as well because it was registered in her name. Our children, who we had raised together, are also taken from me and put into the custody of my spouse’s parents because the law only accepts my spouse as legal guardian, not me.
I lose not only my wife, but my family and home. Then I run into financial trouble. I worked a part-time job so that I could be home with the children after school. With my spouse dead, I barely can afford to support myself until I find a full-time job.
Since my spouse had no will naming a legal beneficiary of her assets, all the money she and I saved in an account in her name, all the stocks she and I accumulated in her name and even life insurance and social security benefits in her name, go to her family. According to the law, though, I am not her family. Why? We are a same-sex couple and are not legally married.
Is this nightmare realistic? 100 percent. Heterosexual couples legally married take for granted hundreds of legal rights that gay couples in domestic partnerships cannot even touch. The belief that to reserve legal marriage for heterosexual couples is a violation of civil liberties has led to a nationwide movement for the legalization of same-sex unions.
The question of whether or not same-sex unions should be legalized begs one first to define marriage. Some describe marriage as a loving partnership in which two people share a home, finances and their lives. Some describe marriage in religious terms, citing a loving spiritual union by a given religious affiliation. Others describe marriage in legal terms, citing a domestic partnership signified by a legal commitment" ceremony" (i.e. standing before a judge) recognized by the law.
All these definitions are valid; however, the definition pertinent to the question of the legalization of same-sex unions is the law-based definition. In my own ideal world I wish society viewed a same-sex union as a legitimate loving partnership rather than a moral crime. Though I would like for all religions and their sects to recognize same-sex unions as blessings rather than sins, I demand only that which I feel is realistic to demand. Keeping in mind the concept of separation of church and state, I ask members of this society to set aside their respective religious beliefs and focus on the legal aspect of marriage.
I also ask members of this society to replace the word "marriage" with "union,” since “marriage” tends to have a religious connotation and "union" tends to have a more legal connotation. The legalization of same-sex unions does not mean this nation must morally or religiously validate homosexuality. In fact, a portion of the gay community does not desire marriage simply because it does not feel the need for religion, society or the law to validate commitments to partnership.
To all those who believe the legalization of same-sex unions is about validation, I say “Not at all." The legalization of same-sex unions is meant to offer the same civil rights to all those who choose to live in domestic partnerships.
The legalization of same-sex unions means this nation truly believes all people are created equal, that there should be no double-standards, that this nation is comprised of diverse peoples who must be respected for their diversity and that a commitment to domestic partnership is based upon two people who intend closely to share their lives in all legal aspects with each other as life partners.
Today is National Freedom to Marry Day. Please show your support of the struggle to legalize same-sex unions by wearing "knot" pins. stopping by the Lawn table to gather information and creating dialogue about this issue so that people may come to understand each other.
(Terrilynn Platt is president of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Union.)
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Date Added June 26, 2016
Date Modifed May 9, 2018
Collection Cavalier Daily: articles about LGBTQ issues

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