This is a much different world than the one I was born into. This Sunday I will be marrying the man that I have been a partner with since July of 1998, nearly 18 years ago. I was 42 years old then (Joe was 33). Now I’m 60. I don’t care what anybody says, that’s old! So not only am I entering into a same-sex marriage, something I would never have dreamed of prior to 4-5 years ago, I’m also getting married for the first time, relatively late in life.
During the last 18 years, I have been to several pride events and parades including Long Beach, Los Angeles (Hollywood) and San Luis Obispo, California and New York City where the Stonewall “riots” started it all. It’s only been over the last few years that same-sex marriage was a thing, at least as I perceived things. Prior to that the pride events were focused primarily on AIDS awareness and LGBTQ recognition and acceptance.
It was 1996 that things started to progress in the U.S. with same sex marriage. Hawaii was the first state to uphold the right of same-sex couples to marry, but two years later in 1998, the state passed a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. In 1999, California became the first state to pass a domestic partnership statute. Then in 2003, Massachusetts legalized same-sex marriage, a true game-changer. Things were slow after that with major resistance from the right. It was the Bush years. During the following years a few more states started passing marriage rights, including New York (where we live) in 2011. But then everything changed in a big way on June 26, 2015 when the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage across the entire United States. Never in a million years would I have expected this.
We have come such a long way. It’s just incredible.
So now, here we are in 2016. Marriage is legal for all people. I never thought about getting married because I was gay and in my conditioned “Leave it to Beaver” era brain, two men didn’t get married. But with the events over the last 20 years, the thought of the possibility that I could be married had been planted.
But why get married? What are the benefits? Will it change anything? Is something broken by being two single men bonded by love and devotion and living together without being married? How will it be different than just living together? Is it just a legal transaction?
I can’t honestly answer all these questions but have some ideas at least on a few of them. I think it’s more than just a legal transaction.
There will likely be a change in how we perceive each other based on the new commitments we have vowed to. We will have legal rights provided to us by the government that we don’t currently have.
Although we have not had this happen to us, but I have certainly heard about it, there will be no chance that a hospital or medical institution will deny visiting rights or the ability to make medical decisions about each other. That’s huge.
Related to the medical rights, there are various legal rights that we will have that don’t apply to single people, including joint insurance plans.
We plan on remaining financially independent, but may open a joint bank account to use for shared purchases, just to see how it goes.
So far I don’t know if there is much more. That will probably change. I mean we have lived together for almost a decade now and I am quite sure home life will remain pretty much the same.