Cat-Blog: On Marriage Equality and the Struggle to Keep Marriage Personal, Part 2

Today, we have the second in a series by Part Time Monster Contributor Cat. She is my dearest friend, certainly my longest-running companion (we’ve been friends all our lives), and she and her wife, Heather, have recently gotten married. You can find part 1 of their story here.

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My wife (then fiancee) was hospitalized for 13 days. A new complication with her type 1 diabetes had surfaced. Heather’s health had always been fragile, but now we learned that her stomach was not functioning properly, and it would not function properly ever again. The wedding, which now more than ever we realized was nothing more than a party, was forgotten as we struggled to figure out what the damage was, how to combat it and how to live with this new aspect of her disease.

She had held her job at a local casino for seven years. She turned away from dreams of college for a full time job with insurance when she was diagnosed at 17. I turned down a promotion with my company and a chance to move to my favorite city to keep her insurance. Many more decisions deferred to her staying put, and staying on her insurance plan. While she was on a medical leave of absence, the casino restructured her department, and in a swift and sneaky way moved both her and her insurance costs out of their realm of responsibility. She offered to do anything–service, barista, housekeeping–just to keep her insurance, but no room could be found in the 32 story building

Every day during her hospitalization, which was to be the first of five over the next year, I navigated the halls, avoiding the doctors who asked too many questions about the legal status of our relationship. I made friends with the nurses who were competent and cared enough to see that I was her wife, papers or no. Those who were incompetent hid their faults behind our gray area status. What did it matter if the nurse didn’t wear gloves to change an I.V.? Was I even supposed to be back there after visiting hours? I lived in fear of her parents stepping in, and out of concern and love, taking the decision making out of my hands. Heather’s first girlfriend had been barred from the hospital when she was admitted with a blood glucose level of 1600. She closed her eyes that night, thinking she would never see her first love again. Incomprehensible that we could experience the same thing, but it was my fear. My worst fear, that I could lose her and never see her.

Once she was released and we started navigating life post-crisis we realized the battle for healthcare had just begun. Try finding a specialist  with no insurance. The doctor at the low income clinic that we were forced to go to had to Google her diagnosis. As we struggled to find her quality health care my frustration grew. If I were a man, we could go to the courthouse ,and within hours she could be covered by my Blue Cross and Blue Shield policy. I even discovered that Blue Cross allowed domestic partners on insurance, but my company chose not to offer that option.

Now I have been petitioning and protesting since I was in the third grade at  Millry Elementary School. The school would take the junior high and high school honor roll students to dinner at the local catfish house, but not the elementary students. I argued ageism and took it before the principal and school board. Needless to say, after the next nine weeks, the elementary students were having hush puppies and slaw with the older students.

As a journalist I had lent my voice to unpopular causes both liberal and conservative according to my personal beliefs. I had canvassed neighborhoods in Ohio for Obama. I headed up an LGBT story drive for the Courage Campaign backed by Senator Feinstine. I knew the work that needed to be done to change the policy, but for once I didn’t want to do it. I wasn’t spoiling for the fight, for the debate. We were fighting already. I just wanted to marry my wife.

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8 Comments

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  1. I find this so sad, the fear of being frozen out and being made invisible in a lesbian/gay relationship by ” loving” and “caring” relatives. I am amazed that this attitude still exists it this day and age esp on America the land of the “free”

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    1. Yes, I agree. There’s so much negativity toward something that isn’t really anyone’s business, and it makes things really difficult for just average people trying to get by. I’m glad things are changing, but it’s a slow process, and I wish it were a faster one, for sure.

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  2. Reblogged this on Part Time Monster and commented:

    Today, in support of my LGBT friends and family and in light of the ruling handed down in Louisiana yesterday, I’m reblogging friend and contributor Cat’s 3-part series on her marriage to her wife, Heather. Cat’s series is a poignant look at what happens when the private and public sectors become enmeshed with an issue such as marriage equality and of the real human cost of a country that doesn’t recognize the rights of all of its citizens. I’m so glad to have her as a friend and contributor, and I can’t thank her enough for opening up so much about her life on such a public forum.

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  3. Gen’O I had no idea that was a factor with you and Vicki. So I’m sure you know the fear I wrote about. Heather’s parents have come a long way and they trust my judgment now, but knowing that I am legally in charge makes a big difference. When your partner is sick the last thing you want to have to deal with is fighting just to be allowed to be with them. It doesn’t make it ok that she is sick, but it helps that we know we don’t have those legal worries to deal with.

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  4. Heart-wrenching.

    Having gone through several bouts of serious medical treatment with my wife, I understand this all too well.

    Ten years ago, I was opposed to all marriage on principle. I thought the state had no business issuing marriage licenses to anyone. I thought marriage should mean standing under an oak tree and saying the vows to one another without any paperwork or officiant required. I still think that, but now I see it for what it is: a utopian fantasy.

    This:

    “Was I even supposed to be back there after visiting hours? I lived in fear of her parents stepping in, and out of concern and love, taking the decision making out of my hands.”

    is the main reason I agreed to get married (though not the only one). I wanted to be sure I was the one making the decisions if things got bad. That no one could take that away from us. Every committed couple should have that assurance.

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