Now that the emotional aspect of June is for all intents and purposes over, I can sit down and breathe for just a little bit.
June 1st was supposed to see us in a courtroom, listening to arguments on our civil lawsuit. That morning, a continuance was granted to the other side. This is becoming habit for them, waiting until the eleventh hour then getting a continuance. This process started in mid-March of 2004, more than 2 years ago.
I didn’t post a birthday wish to Linda, my middle child. She turned 27 on the 5th. She lives out in Colorado with her husband and son, and is due to have their second son in September. Linda and I are a bit estranged, although not completely. She thinks I didn’t do enough for her when she was younger. Of course she had a car, cell phone, independence, a decent home, decent clothes, a job, food, and a mother who desperately WANTED a decent relationship with her. As time goes by, and as her own children grow, perhaps she’ll figure it out.
The 6th was my brother’s birthday. He turned 52 but, like my father, looks 20 years older than his biological age. He smokes heavily, now has diabetes and emphysema, and has the IRS taking all but $100 per week out of his pay. After his wife died almost 3 years ago, he let the house go into foreclosure. He still carries an awful lot of baggage from the abuse of our childhood. He always believed everything that came out of Mom’s mouth and, when she insisted that we’d never amount to anything, it appears that he accepted that as gospel.
The 6th also brought sentencing for my father. A confusing jumble of emotions for everyone there.
The 7th was my nephew’s 30th birthday. The first grandchild, Bobby was my brother’s only offspring (although he had 4 stepchildren and their children call him “Papa”). Bobby was a troubled youth, growing up amidst the violence his father inherited and, at the age of 15, pretty much was done with school. He’s a handsome young man, with the “Murphy curse” of early male pattern baldness. He spent some time in the county lock-up for throwing a destructive tantrum in the emergency room. After his mother died, he swore he’d never touch alcohol again and, for a while, he did pretty good. He married, had a little girl, divorced, and is now re-married with one step-son and 2 children of his own. He doesn’t see his oldest daughter. He was fiercely loyal to my father as long as he thought he was going to get one of my father’s vehicles. Once that vehicle was sold, Bobby’s loyalty went with it. It was his wife that signed the complaint that put my father in the county lockup for violating the protective order. Truth or payback? We’ll never know, I suppose.
The 10th is/was my ex-husband’s birthday. He turned 53 and, according to his wife, is in poor health and in need of retirement. He can’t retire until he pays off the child support arrears (only $3500). Somehow I have a hard time dredging up the sincerity for sympathy for him. He was sick of being broke, having to pay $500 per month in support. I was sick of never having enough money to pay the bills to support 3 kids, and raising the 3 kids alone. Poor little putz.
The 19th was my oldest daughter, Michelle’s birthday. She and her husband will be separating — something that shocked everyone. Hopefully they’ll work through it and get back together.
The 22nd was our “Town Meeting” with the ACLU/NYCLU entitled “A Night With Local Heroes.” It was a panel style format with clients for their three biggest cases on the panel. Besides me there was a young femal artist that had a freedom of expression issue, and two young high school boys with a freedom of speech issue. The artist hasn’t filed suit and is still working through some issues with the town she’s having problems with. Folks there have spit on her and issued death threats — she says they’re VFW members. Vets. The young men have taken their experiences and worked with them and have become active members of their student government, one becoming president. Their council has grown from a 5 member “prom committee” (as one put it) to 30 members working toward making their school and community a better place. Of course, our case is the lawsuit against my employer for recognition of our marriage so that we can have spousal benefits. Here’s a copy of my intro speech:
Good Evening and thank you for having me here tonight.
Once upon a time, I used to be one of those people you see a lot of. You know the type. They sit around and complain to friends, family and co-workers about what they think is wrong in the world, but never really doing anything about it but complain.
As I got older, I realized that it did me no good to complain to my friends, family and co-workers because they couldn’t do anything about what was wrong. I began to understand that complaints should be made, not to people who care enough about you to not tell you to quit your complaining because they’re sick of it, but to people who could actually DO something about what was wrong.
I have worked at Monroe Community College for a little over twelve years now.
On July 5, 2001 my spouse and I entered into a Civil Union through the state of Vermont. A year and a half later, in late 2003, her employer announced that they would no longer be paying full health benefits, and that the employees would have to start paying for half of their benefit.
I asked HR if the college provided Domestic Partner benefits at the time and was told they did not.
In the year that followed, San Francisco’s Mayor Gavin Newsom ordered the city clerk to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples. Two weeks later, New Paltz Mayor Jason West performed same sex marriages on the front steps of the village offices, explaining that it was his duty as an elected official to honor the rights of all of his constituents.
A week after Mayor West performed these marriages, New York State Attorney General Elliot Spitzer issued an informal opinion which basically said that any legal unions entered into outside of New York State jurisdiction would surely have to be recognized, under the law, in New York State.
We got on the waiting list to be married at New Paltz and, on March 13th we were married by Unitarian Universalist Minister Marion B. Visel in New Paltz. Upon our return from New Paltz, I approached HR for spousal benefits and was unceremoniously turned down. It was then that I decided to contact the ACLU for information on whether my circumstances would be of interest to them.
In the meantime, on May 17th of 2004, Massachusetts became the first state in the nation to legally allow same-sex couples to marry. However, Governor Mitt Romney invoked a long forgotten and rarely enforced law enacted in 1913 that would prohibit marriage of out-of-staters if that marriage was illegal in the parties’ home state.
Knowing that our New Paltz marriage was shrouded in a cloud of legal ambiguity, we longed for marriage that would be legally uncontestable. While we had an eye toward Massachusetts, we also began to look north. Eventually, we decided that going to Massachusetts could very well end up with us adding just one more legally “iffy” marriage to our growing collection, so we decided on Canada. We were married on July 5th of 2004.
Armed with my legal marriage certificate and record of solemnization, I approached HR once again, and was once more turned down.
Lisa and I did not want to be trailblazers. As she half-jokingly said one night, “I don’t want to end up on the CBS Evening News with Dan Rather.” I assured her that wouldn’t happen, as Rather was retiring. Through many discussions, we began to realize that we cannot sit back and wait for others to carve a path for us, if we wanted recognition of our marriage, and if we wanted all the rights that go with marriage. We would have to carve our own path and, in doing so, hopefully leave behind us an unobstructed road to the simple rights that all should enjoy – a road for others to follow.
We’re not heroes, contrary to how Barb DeLeeuw paints us. We are simply two people who loved each other enough to make a lifelong commitment to each other, not unlike any heterosexual couple out there. And, with that commitment, we assumed the responsibilities of marriage. But how can anyone sit back and expect a citizen of this country to fulfill their equal responsibilities, if they cannot have equal rights?
The true heroes in our eyes are people like Mayors Gavin Newsom and Jason West. Clergymembers who risked their legal freedom like Marion Visel. Public servants like Elliot Spitzer. Attorneys like Jeffrey Wicks. Organizations such as the ACLU, HRC, and Lambda Legal.
And to all of those heroes, thank you once again for your collective work on our behalf.
It was an interesting evening, and very heartening to see the support we have from people of all walks. There were a lot of “old” folks in there. Retired military. Christians/Catholics. Politicians. Lawyers. School teachers. Young and old. After the panel discussion, we were approached by many members of the audience and congratulated. We were offered words of support and good wishes by everyone we talked to. It was a bit overwhelming, to be honest with you. It makes me feel like there IS hope for mankind.
Today, I’m practicing “avoidance.” I just had to take some time off to just sit and handle all the phone calls and crap for my father. Two bank accounts overdrawn, one for $600 and one for $500, an outstanding DishNetwork bill for $200, an outstanding HFC debt for $700, court fees and legal fines for $1400, $400 in arrears on his storage unit, a vehicle I can’t seem to sell, and a letter every day from him begging for money for the commissary there. I sent him one money order for $300 and it arrived at the county jail the day he was transferred to the state intake facility. They claim the mail was returned, but I’ve not seen hide nor hair of it in the 13 days since the transfer. I have ascertained, as of yesterday, that the money order hasn’t been cashed, so now I have to track that as well.
We have a Silpada Designs party this evening at 6:00. Lisa bought me two beautiful necklaces from there for Christmas, and I just love them (it’s all sterling silver, my fave). An old employer/friend of mine is giving it, and she loaned us the walker for my father at Christmas time after his stroke, and she allows us to store our antique truck in her barn for free. Of course we’re going! LOL!
Tomorrow, as part of our ongoing C.E.R.T. certifications, we’re scheduled for Hepatitis B shots, the first in a series of 3. Based on my reading, there are hardly any troublesome side-effects, although it does indicate that it could be less effective in people over 50 (that’s me).
Now it’s time for us. After Thursday of this week, I’m off until July 17th. Lisa is off with me, only she has to work this Friday. We’ve got nothing specific planned, other than sleeping in, and maybe getting some putzing done around the house, at our own pace. Perhaps a day trip here, a 2 or 3 day camping trip there, but for the most part, we’re not holding ourselves down to any schedules. I may work a bit on The Chronicles of Yawnia and sit and knit a lot, but other than that, I don’t plan to do anything extensive other than to give my brain, my emotions and our marriage a much needed rest.