12 August 2008
Sometimes I'm Married
On Aug 15, 2004, my partner Lynn and I, who had already been together for 13 years, were married in our home in the company of 60 friends and family. This was three months after our right to marry had been affirmed by the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, which found that there was no "constitutionally adequate reason" for denying marriage to same-sex couples. Although they received very short notice, almost every person we invited made it to the ceremony and it was a fantastic, warm and wonderful celebration.
I love being married. But until this year I was only married in Massachusetts, which makes for some interesting (and confusing) situations. For example, Lynn and I file our state taxes jointly, but we file our federal taxes as two single people. The U.S. census does not count us as married. If I were to die today, Lynn would not be eligible to collect on my social security the way other married couples can and she would have to pay federal inheritance taxes on half of our joint properties. Whenever we leave the state, Lynn and I always joke that we aren't married any more, but the question of whether or not our marriage is valid when we travel out of state is no laughing matter if something bad happens. (Our lawyer advised us to carry a copy of our marriage license when we travel!) And which box do we check when asked if we're married on an insurance or other type of application form?
So in honor of Lynn and my four-year wedding anniversary (and 17 years together) I thought I'd start a little woodblock print about the state of our marriage. Here's the design transferred to a block:
And here are two prints in what will probably be a very slow reduction series:
You can see that we're now married in both Massachusetts and California. I haven't noted states that offer "civil unions" as I'm unclear on what exactly "civil union" means. I think of it as a sort of semantic trick -- even though some or many of the rights of marriage may be conferred in a civil union (or civil partnership, registered partnership, domestic partnership, etc.), the semantic difference between marriage and civil unions has no purpose I can discern other than to continue to stigmatize and isolate same-gender relationships. But on the 2008 map I've noted New York, where Governor David Paterson has directed state agencies to recognize all policies and laws pertaining to same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions, and New Jersey and New Mexico which recognize same-sex marriage conducted abroad, so possibly will recognize marriage from other states as well.
I plan to revisit this very gradual reduction print every year around our wedding anniversary until all the states are one color. Then we can frame the series and hang it on our nursing home wall.