The newest states to support same-gender marriage are Maine, Maryland and Washington. Nine states (Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Washington and Vermont) plus Washington D.C. have the freedom to marry for same-sex couples. In 2012, the legislature in New Jersey passed a freedom to marry bill, and work is now underway to override the governor’s veto. New Mexico and Rhode Island explicitly respect out-of-state marriages of same-sex couples, while nine states now offer broad protections short of marriage. Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey and Rhode Island allow civil union, while California, Oregon and Nevada offer broad domestic partnership. Two other states, Colorado and Wisconsin) have more limited domestic partnership.
Now it seems as though Illinois is on the verge of passing a law that would allow same sex marriages. With these advances, a record number of Americans live in states that recognize relationships between same-sex couples:
• Nearly 17% of the U.S. population lives in a state that either has the freedom to marry or honors out-of-state marriages of same-sex couples.
• Nearly 39% of the U.S. population lives in a state with either marriage or a broad legal status such as civil union or domestic partnership.
• Over 42% of the U.S. population lives in a state that provides some form of protections for gay couples.
That makes 10 states that allow same-gender marriage, 2 states that recognize same gender marriages from other states, 5 states that allow civil unions, 4 states that grant nearly all state-level spousal rights to unmarried couples, and 4 states that provide some state-level spousal rights to unmarried couples (domestic partnerships).
New York , Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, DC, and Massachusetts are all on the East Coast. I also live on the East Coast. I live in Virginia. If New Jersey, Maryland, and Delaware allow same-gender marriage, how long before Virginia starts to feel the heat to follow suit? This is something I think about frequently.
I think about it for different reasons than many others do.
I have lots of thoughts on this matter. As a matter of fact, when I went on vacation last summer to visit my mother, who lives in Kissimmee Florida, she asked me what my thoughts were on gay marriage. My mother is very aware that I am in a same-gender relationship, and is NOT homophobic in the least, but she doesn’t really understand it. She is 72 and comes from a different era than I do. It does not bother me at all that she does not understand, and is a little reluctant to meet Bluebell. The fact that she is accepting of me, and loves me anyway, is all that matters to me.
So in June 2012 when New York (not far from where I live) voted to allow same gender marriages, it caused the most recent uncomfortable discussion about Bluebell and I getting married. Quite a few of my friends said that we should rush up to New York and get married. We could take a mini vacation to the Big Apple, have a great time, and while we were there we could get married. I just laughed it off, and said, “Oh no, there is no way we could do that, the kids are home for the summer…Bluebell doesn’t have enough vacation time…we start college in a few weeks…” I used a different reason each time.
But when my mother asked me about it, and the NewYorRican asked me about it, I had to delve deep into my own thoughts and really think about why I don’t want to get married.
I am afraid to tell my gay friends that I don’t want to get married. It is like I am somehow “less” gay because I don’t want to rush off and get married just because it is legal. Or that I am snubbing the Gay Rights Movement in some way because I am not willing to participate in a wedding. That my decision is in some way a slap in the face to those who have “fought so hard” to get the votes to make same-gender marriages, civil unions, domestic partnerships, etc., legal.
I do not want to marry Bluebell. At least not right now. I have a few reasons for this decision, all of which I feel are very valid. I would like to share my thoughts because it is very possible there are other people like me (and Bluebell who agrees with me completely) out there. People who don’t necessarily want to get married just because they can.
First, I am a divorced woman with two kids. Just for tax reasons I don’t want to get married. Bluebell is also a divorced woman with kids. We can both file as Head of Household, (HOH) and get a pretty nice refund back each year based upon our exemptions, deductions, etc. I also am an independent contractor for a dermatologist, and we each have our own 401k’s plus an annuity plan we own together. We co-own a house. The money we would lose every year if we had to change from two people filing HOH to two people filing as a married couple would be a big deal. Our taxes would go from being a pretty simple affair to quite complicated. We could possibly lose some child support income also. So from merely a financial standpoint it behooves us to stay single.
Secondly we both have children. Our children were born into a standard heterosexual family, and our children spent their young lives living with a mommy and a daddy. The reasons we became divorced had nothing to do with each other, but everything to do with marriages that failed. When we chose to be together it was after many agonizing talks about our children. Would they be okay with it? Would we have to fight our ex-husbands for custody? Would they try to take our children? My decision to be with Bluebell was mine. I did not ask my children what they would prefer, yet I have tried to be respectful of their feelings regarding my decision. Bluebell has done the same.
We have told our children that they don’t have to like it, but they have to respect the other adult in the house.
I will not get married while my children live at home. I let my kids describe Bluebell to their peers as they choose. They might call her their mom’s “friend”, they may say “partner”, I don’t know because I let them make that choice for themselves. We do not live in DC, or New York, or LA where being gay is okay, and even fashionable.
We live in a part of Virginia that is very Republican and very conservative. I will not knowingly put my kids in a position to feel that they are treated differently because of the adults who live in their home. You may not agree with that, but I feel it is important to allow my kids to decide for themselves how they want to describe the family they live in. I will say they are much more comfortable with the family now than they were even as recently as two years ago. They call each other “brother” privately and publicly. That is a step in the right direction.
Keep in mind that there are many, many heterosexual couples that never say marriage vows either. Just because they CAN get married doesn’t force them into a position where they feel obligated to. Neither should a gay couple feel obligated to get married just because they can legally.
Let’s face it, the bottom line is even if I choose not to get married for my own reasons, it is an absolute shame that I don’t even get to make that choice because it is not legal in most states.
This needs to change NOW!