Monday, February 13, 2006

Valentine's Eve Blah

Ah. The weekend was a flurry of abject dykiness, alternating among soccer fields, Home Depot, and the backyard workshop. I managed to finish the built-in bookcase (save for the trim at the very top, which will wait until tomorrow night, probably), replace the top of my workbench, clearcoat the extensions on the table saw, install a cupholder on the outside of the shed next to the table saw (water bottle cage converted into beer bottle holder), and almost score a goal on Sunday. Nicked the crossbar and went over.

Valentine's Day is impending, and of course it puts me in something of a wistful mood as I think about how things might be if my state and the nation as a whole would speed up its journey on the progressive road. When I look at my life as an adult lesbian in Tucson, there aren't many hardships on the surface; I have not faced overt discrimination beyond that imposed by the beloved government I support with my taxes (getting to that in a moment). Buying a house with my partner was not a problem; our realtor is gay. The mortgage company didn't give a rat's ass what gender we were; they simply amended a couple of the forms and were happy to take our money. My doctor is a lesbian, and her patient information sheet has check-boxes for both "married" and "domestic partner." Zero chance of unsolicited witnessing or nonsectarian harrumphing in that office. Even our vet is a lesbian; none of her staff bat an eye when we call about one of the pooches and they pull up two women's names in their records. When I called my gym (where I have noticed only a few gay people, but maybe I'm not looking hard enough) to add my partner and her kid to my membership, I explained that I wanted to upgrade to the family membership but that my partner was another woman. I asked if we still counted as a family. The membership lady exclaimed, "Of course you're a family!" and promptly added them.

It's a sheltered existence. From the outside, it might look so comfortable, so easy for me to be out in Tucson, that I should almost feel guilty sometimes for wanting more.


I realize I am protesting against hypotheticals. If my partner worked someplace else and was uninsured, I couldn't add her to my policy, but she works right here and has her own individual coverage. If my employer wanted to can my ass for being a moral abomination, I'm pretty sure he could under state law, but he doesn't concern himself with his employees' private lives until they impact their work performance--and then it's generally to see what he can do to help. I send my son to a Catholic school that would be within its legal rights to bar him, or bar me from having anything to do with the students, but instead they are explicitly welcoming.

That's why it is so important to remember that injustice anywhere is, functionally, injustice everywhere. It would be so easy for me to sit back, secure in my current situation, and cross my fingers that things will continue to improve for us and certainly never return to the pre-Stonewall days. To be complacent. It may seem like endless gazing at the green grass on the other side of the fence when I chafe at the lack of legal recognition for my relationship, despite the fact that in almost every aspect of my life, I am no different from any other married person out there. I have my stable relationship, my kid-and-a-half, my dogs, my house, two trucks in the driveway. I go to work, buy groceries, cook dinner, do yardwork, help the kids with homework, puzzle how to fix the leak in the new pressure-assisted toilet. I'm not openly mocked or, god forbid, assaulted when I go out in public in my obviously lesbian persona. I'm not denied service at restaurants, financial institutions, or the hardware store. I'm in no more danger of losing my job than the straight woman who works next to me.

I would seem to have it all.

All except those 1,100+ rights and responsibilities automatically conferred by marriage. The peace of mind that comes with not having to worry about paying astronomical taxes to keep the house should my partner die, or about her getting what might be left of my Social Security benefits, or about some crazed blood relative coming out of the woodwork to claim medical power of attorney. Beyond the tangible benefits, it's the.... the legitimacy, I suppose, that comes with an official imprimatur from the state--an odd feeling, given my lengthy list of quibbles with said state. It would mean so much to me, I do believe, to know that I was really married and not just playing dress-up with a ring or the semantic sleight of referring to my partner as "the wife" here or "my spouse" there.

I will go get her a Valentine tonight, and will probably pick through the "to my wife" ones and the "to the woman I love" ones and know that they are not meant for me to buy. I shouldn't rail at being excluded from pre-packaged, trite expressions of love, and should just make her one myself anyway, but it's the principle of the thing. Just this once, I want to be in the club.

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