Thursday, February 23, 2006

Duct Tape - Advice to a parent-to-be in New Hampshire

I found as a lesbian in this world that I was forever trying to duct tape myself
to my partner
to keep some semblance of legal stability
in this republican, back-woods, repressed legal world
One strip – health care proxy
One strip – will
One strip – intentions
One strip – home ownership, bank accounts, car...

Out of fear we started purchasing the tape –
What if one of us is ill and the law will not recognize her words, her thoughts or actions on my behalf
When my partner birthed our daughter Torin, we were living in NJ
If I were a man, even an unmarried man
And she birthed my child
My name would be written with power on that birth certificate,
almost by demand

Torin’s was half empty

I had no legal rights to this child
Sure we picked the sperm together, paid for it
I got to push the tube and let the little swimmers start their journey
We cried together when the little purple line became two
I held her for 9 months of puking, sciatica, sleepiness, grumpiness, nesting and worry
I drove to the hospital and walked with her through the contractions
Doing everything I could do to make her happy
Almost fainted once – but held it together
And held our daughter when she arrived –
She peed on me right away and I knew it was love
Love – but not law

Mama-to-be from New Hampshire wrote for advice
What can I tell you, sister? It’s so hard.
Her partner is about to deliver, she cannot be on the birth certificate
The have love, they chose this together. how many straight families, or single women
find themselves pregnant without planning or choosing – and not wanting?
Just know that gay and lesbian people NEVER have a child by accident.

No lawyer will take her case
Gay activist organizations are passing her around
The most beautiful moment of her life – her son’s birth
She feels it is marred
She is angry
She feels alone in this fight

I will tell you first to breathe – nothing can spoil the beauty of this moment
Nor diminish the bravery and love that brought you to his birth
Then look at history
Slavery, apartheid, suffrage, the holocaust – they are very close in time
And then I will also just tell you to be angry – you have every right to be

So how do you fix this?
Sometimes activism just sucks.
Sometimes you don’t ask to be an activist
The reality is that your presence in this fight changes the world.
By the definition of your family – you are not silent
If you can handle more – call those lawyers
If you need a referral, I have a great one for you
Change does happen
Change will occur
By living this life, you show your son how proud of this family you are
Was it yesterday that interracial marriage was illegal,
gay bars raided,
“domestic partner” unheard of?

Today – be in bliss with your family
Tomorrow, rage against the powers that be
Unfortunately, fortunately
You are not alone
We are all feeling this and are here for you

You are already buying your duct tape
I can hear the pieces being ripped off
holding you all together
keep you as safe and as bound as you can be in such times

I’m sorry I can’t do more
But if the law in Massachusetts makes you feel safer and feels right to you
Do it!
It's better than tape
and lasts infinitely longer!


At February 24, 2006 1:20 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said... half of a hetero couple I have a similar problem for opposite reasons. While part of this country can't fathom a gay couple getting married, just as many can't fathom a hetero couple NOT getting married.

We've been together for 9 years. We are finally getting married in October, but we've been hearing the question since we were together 6 months. We were in our early 20's and nowhere near being ready for it, but everyone asked all the time. "When are you getting married?" Over and over and over. I think it's a rude question to impose on a couple if you don't know their status. It made us uncomfortable. Some people were insistant that we get married soon. After all, we're together so long, why not get married.

It made us feel as though people would never take us seriously as a couple, as a family, until we got married.

For a long time we weren't sure if we were going to get married at all. We love each other, so why would we need a piece of paper from the state confirming that?

We also bought some duct tape. We moved in together. We bought an air conditioner together. Then a regrigerator. There were joint bank accounts and then a car. Look! We're a couple! Really, we are!

A conversation with a friend convinced me that if for no other reason, legality demanded it. What if one of us were in a serious accident or very ill and the other were not allowed to make decisions. What if one of us died suddenly and the other had no claim on money and property? How about when I was unemployed and his place of work did not see fit to insure me without that little piece of paper from the state?

Fortunately all we have to do is show up at city hall with some ID and a nominal fee, and all those questions are answered in a heartbeat. We are instantly linked, legally, forever, unless we make the decision to undo it. He will be my proxy, my benefactor, and my heir. And I his. In the eyes of the law, everything is sorted out.

I cannot, to the depths of my soul, imagine why anyone would want to deny that security, that piece of mind to ANY couple.

At March 27, 2006 7:18 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am now the proud mama to Asher. My beautiful wife gave birth to him on March 6. 7 lbs 7oz, 20.5 inches. The most amazing experience we will ever have. We never thought we could love anything more than we loved each other, and now there is Asher and we love him so much that our hearts could burst, and we love each other more than we could ever have dreamt. We did decide to go through with the move to Massachusetts. What was most important to us was to protect our child and this seemes to be our best decision. So now we are married with a beautiful son, going through with our adoption. Once that is final we will move back to NH and continue the battle there....the battle for all families.


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