Rights and Privileges

Here’s what almost happened to us yesterday, a day so clear the local Chamber of Commerce could have taken a picture and used it for a postcard.

David and I were in the car,  happy and talking, as he rounded the corner just a half a mile from our house.  That’s when the truck from a side street pulled out into the oncoming lane – only he swung too wide, jumped the yellow line and was heading straight  for us.  David swerved sharply, pulling us out if his path. We just had time to see the look of sheer terror on his face as he rocketed on past.

He did not hit us, though it occurred to me that if he had, we would have fit  what the statistics show to be the classic profile for your typical motor vehicle accident: Broad daylight. Dry pavement. Less than five miles from home. 

He did not hit us.

But if he had hit us and if David had been grievously injured and lay unconscious at the hospital, as his wife I would be instantly recognized as his next of kin and been granted all the right and privileges  pertaining thereunto.

But this post isn’t about a near-miss car accident.

This post is about marriage and how unfair it surely does seem to me that same-sex couples in the vast majority of these 50  states are denied the right to marry.

I won’t go on here but will  just invite you instead to click on the ‘Play’ icon below and see how you feel when watch these couples in Asheville North Carolina being turned away, however kindly, when they come to the  Buncombe County Register of Deeds office to ask for a marriage license. 

It’s true this was an intentional gathering and that they knew there would be cameras. But just note the quickly suppressed expressions of sorrow on their faces when that “not you!” judgment is once again made about them. Just look and listen, especially to the voice of the woman in her mid-60s.

 I expected to feel only anger at the inequity of these laws watching this video.  Instead, I found myself sobbing:

7 thoughts on “Rights and Privileges

  1. That breaks my heart! Why do I have the right to marry someone that I love and someone else doesnt? Isnt that discrimination? We can only hope and pray that one day everyone has the same rights.

  2. When I was in college, a friend of a friend was in a committed relationship with another woman. They were in their early 30s (which seemed so OLD to me at 19!); must’ve been 1983 or 84. I forget what happened to the woman’s partner, whether it was accident or illness, but what happened was this: both the woman and the woman’s love’s mother came to the hospital at the same time. The woman who loved the sick/injured woman was denied the right to see her, the mother, who had been estranged from her daughter for a long time, was allowed in. I think they’d been together around 10 years, “abandoned”/rejected by this concerned mother the whole time. Turned out, the daughter was “crippled” (since I don’t remember the situation, I’ll use this politically incorrect term “crippled”), and it was predicted she’d live the remainder of her life between her bed and a wheelchair, but her mind unimpaired. The hospitalized woman’s love was NEVER ONCE allowed in to see or visit her. The mother and the lover went to court, but the mother “won”, her daughter had no rights whatsoever. Neither young woman was allowed to see the other again, and the mother never went to her daughter’s best friend’s house to collect her 10 years of accumlated personal possessions. That was all I heard, and in the liberal home I was raised in, I had NO idea anything like this could happen; I was sickened and afraid. Who had rights to what about me? Would my boyfriend have been allowed in to see me? At that time I’d truly rather have died than gone home to my parents! So now, how many years later, and we are still in the dark ages. Civil rights movement did a lot of good, but it ain’t over by a loooong shot.

  3. Are you saying that an adult woman with an “unimpaired mind” was not allowed to see her friend “ever again”? I find that hard to believe, whatever the nature of their relationship.

    1. I understand your disbelief, but it was covered at the time in some of the Massachusetts newspapers as well. I could probably find my old college roommate who was the friend of the couple, (and how I heard the story), and at which time the woman had just moved back to her mother’s house and the mother had made it clear that she would NOT be picking up her record albums, clothes, photo albums, nick-knacks, etc., and was supported by the court for having absolute discretion about who could and could not enter her house, and ask for an update. Could probably send you her email, if it would help you to believe it. At the end of that semester she moved in with her boyfriend and we only saw each other on our trackteam, but as we did different events, we didn’t get to talk much, and despite my almost out-of-body numbed outrage and fear, time did in fact turn me back into a self-involved college student of the ’80s with little thought of Bigger Events. Nowadays, there are convalescent homes etc. where the daughter could have, and probably if alive DOES live, where her mother would NOT have ANY authority accept medical and financial, and she’d have a laptop and cell phones. But at the time, that was all in the future.

  4. How poignant. Wonderful couples. I was struck by the patience of the clerk. the kind way she issued the denial caused me to cry even more. There will be marriage equality. I hope it happens in time for the women in their 60″s.

  5. Thank you for your heartfelt comments on Terry’s blog. My partner Susie Sweet and I (72 & 69) were one of the 20 couples who took part in the We Do Campaign in Asheville. Six of the couples had their children with them. It was orchestrated in every detail, based on the philosophy of empathic resistence. The Asheville Police, clergy from many denominations, LGBT people from CA and MA, and even the clerks at the Buncombe County register of deeds gladly took part in this action. We prayed at the Congregational Church and walked from there to the court house, holding hands and signs with our names and desire for equality. Even though we knew we would be denied, hearing it was sobering. Our hearts went out to the young man and young woman who sympathized with us but had to tell us the laws of NC would not allow them to grant us a marriage license. We had to ask that they write “rejected” on our application. The really demeaning thing was that they had no way to have our request made part of the public record. Our application was handed back.
    A couple in their sixties “sat in” after closing time. They were arrested as they sat and read the 110 rights and privileges that are granted to opposite sex couples. The Campaign for Southern Equality provided attorneys for them, and they joined a cheering crowd in about 20 minutes. Six stirring speeches followed. There was one lone protester with a sign that read “Read your Bible”. The publicity was great. The web site/blog got tens of thousands of hits. Newspapers all over the country carried it. The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell on MSNBC showed the entire video. The purpose was to inform people of the harm these laws do to same sex couples and their families -. and, within 5 years, to raise the percent of Americans who support same sex marriage from 50 to 58%, a number which gets Congress’s attention. Next city – Charlotte.

    1. GOOD FOR YOU!! My heart breaks, and if ever He did, (if you’ll pardon the expression) “Jesus Weeps!” The church I go to is called a “Reconciling United Methodist” church. The “reconciling” part is part of an overall “turning back towards and reconciling with God about what HE wants not what WE want or think or wish”, and where we, while not wanting to “splinter”, felt forced with many other hundreds of Methodist Churchs, to splinter and distinquish the new splinter group with “reconciling”. But, the immediate reaction locally, here on the island, was that it was pigeon-holed as “that Gay-friendly Church” and a surprising number of people left in OUTRAGE to go to the Baptist church up the street. (Not a lot of choices on a small island; very glad there are as many as there are! Catholic, Methodist, Baptist, and even Quaker! Each a chapel in one great Cathedral, as we like to say at our “Gay Friendly” “reconciling” church.

      That this is still an issue at all anywhere is such a shock to me, still, everytime. I just don’t get it. I TRY to understand where “they” are coming from, but my brain, which is usually pretty good at seeing (if not ultimately agreeing with) other sides a points and angles, just can’t get wrapped around it except for as manifestation of fear, a manifestion of the relative “immaturity” and youth of the human race—come so far, have soo far to go still—and I just have to say, the closer you get to the bathroom, the more desperately urgently your need to pee. By that I mean, my instinct is equal rights Across The Board is potentially very very close, closing in faster and faster, if we can just make it to the bathroom! 20 years ago, because hope was so much further away, in my experience of similar hopes and injustices of which *I* was a helpless victim of society, the pain just CAN’T be as acute as when the hope is highest. Psychological protective mechanism, perhaps?

      I’ve “shared” the blog post, and I’ve already heard from several friends, and seen that it has been reposted many times “via me”; I’m feeling a wee bit proud of my tineste of actions, TINEST, and extremely humbled to know such courageous people…like you… I honestly cannot say what I would/could do in your situation. Can’t say if I could summon the courage.

      GOOD FOR YOU! Keep us, please, keep me informed. If there is anything I can do personally, somehow, please don’t hesitate to let us/me know!!! And good good “luck” (for a change).

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