“So when are you two getting married?” I should know the answer to this question as I hear this lot at work and out with our friends. Well that, and the fact we have been engaged since last year when my partner popped the question to me on her birthday. In the past we…I mean my fiancée and I, have always believed if we didn’t have marriage equality in the state of Florida, what was the sense in getting legally married? We live here, we work here, we pay our taxes and our community is right here. Even living in this post DOMA bliss, why should we bother going out of state we have no ties to, just to get married? Well, we both have changed our minds in the last couple of weeks and here’s why.
Let’s go back to Labor Day Weekend where everyone was celebrating a 3 day holiday with BBQs, pool parties and the last of summer on the beach. That weekend, we received a call from one of our very good friends who was up north with her family that her wife was in a tragic boating accident down here and she didn’t survive. Barely 40 years old, this couple had everything anyone would want in a marriage: happiness, love and laughter. Everything, that is, except the same rights as a legally married couple. When you’re in your 30s, you don’t think about dying or living wills and estate documents, you think about living in the moment and having plenty of time.
With time, things can quickly go from bad to unthinkably worse. Now faced with the unfortunate reality that she may lose the home she shared with her wife to the in-laws (how ironic that sounds), our grieving friend and many of us “family” members were not welcome inside the funeral home yesterday. Out of respect and on our very best behavior, we stood outside of the service and quietly listened to the pastor talk about accepting God into your life and how none of us are ever promised one more day. He spoke of how she loved her dogs, the Dolphins and Harley Davidson motorcycles. There was no mention of her wife or their life together.
I looked at my future wife with tears in my eyes when she said, “don’t worry, that will never happen to us,” and realized it was a promise she couldn’t keep. After the service, we all went back to the house and this was the topic of discussion amongst all of us. With all of the new changes in effect with DOMA, and now the IRS allowing legally married same-sex couples to file jointly, there is much hope, but even more questions. We have so many community partners in the legal field that are willing to offer their services and lead us in the right direction, which is why programs and workshops to address these questions are so important.
So, to answer the question of when are we going to get married? Well, we don’t have a date set yet, but we have made a commitment to each other to get more informed at the upcoming Compass Business Expo and post DOMA workshop. Now is the time to get informed, get planning, and if nothing else, get your domestic partnership and living will paperwork in order. And then we can enjoy our gift of time together, no matter how much is left.
Julie Seaver is Center Operations Director at Compass, the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of the Palm Beaches and can be contacted at Julie@compassglcc.com.