I wrote my last post to express my white-hot anger over not just Proposition Hate, but the very notion that marriage equality is somehow up for any kind of discussion ... or that it is dependent on the opinions of voters who clearly lack the intellectual qualifications to vote.
Imagine my surprise, then, when it went whizzing virally around the Internets in a matter of hours, generating exponentially more comments and linkbacks than I've ever received in more than five years of blogging.
Once I saw how it had taken off, I steeled myself for the inevitable hostile religious backlash. But it has yet to come ... though I've gotten hate mail in the past for the most benign posts. I figure either this post hasn't yet fallen into the hands of the people who most need to see it, or they just realize they can't win an argument with me on this topic and for once they are wisely keeping their indefensible opinions to themselves.
In any case, I am touched and encouraged by all of you who have taken the time to link this post on blogs and newsgroups, email it to your friends, leave your own stories and comments, and just let me know that I am not alone in my frustration, anger and sucker-punch pain over being repeatedly codified as something less than equal by legions of voters I can no longer look at as compassionate, human or even American.
Many of you have asked for more information about Thomas and the things we have done to protect ourselves and him. I didn't include granular details in my post because it was supposed to be primarily about Proposition Hate ... and because I tend to ramble anyway and the post was already longer than the average novel. But here are some more pieces to the story:
First of all, I should clarify that he's 38, so we're not raising a physical child. He and the domestic partner share the same parents, though they have not lived together since the domestic partner was 10. When Thomas moved in with us last October, I decided to keep him and everything he'd been through out of my blog, especially as I was struggling to wrap my brain around the horrors he'd endured. Once in a while he popped into a narrative that involved him, but the domestic partner wasn't really keen on sharing with the world the embarrassing details of his family, so I continued to keep the blog focused on its usual topic: me. But over the last year, every time the struggle for marriage equality appeared in the news, I knew our story could silence every retarded (and I'm using that word on purpose) argument made by the American Taliban. So after the election, and with the blessings of both the domestic partner and Thomas, I laid everything out here.
On the surface, she's an attractive, bubbly, pleasantly kooky woman. And when I first met her I was excited to have Mame as a mother-in-law. What gay man wouldn't? The domestic partner had warned me that she was probably not the woman she portrayed herself to be, but since he has seen or talked to her only a couple times a year for the last 10 years, it never occurred to us to find out what his mom had really become.
How nobody knew what was going on
Again, there are a lot of family details that the domestic partner just doesn't want splashed all over the Internets. But here's some context: His parents went through an acrimonious divorce when the domestic partner was 5, and over the years the domestic partner, two of his brothers and his father ended up in Illinois and Wisconsin and his mother and Thomas ended up living in a gated community in Florida. The guard at the gate ensured nobody could get in without her permission, she let all her calls go to voicemail, and she and Thomas made only rare appearances at family gatherings. And when they did show up, she never let Thomas out of her sight. The few times I'd met him, he was skittish around people and completely uncommunicative, but I just figured that was part of his disability. It was only when a cousin who happened to be in Florida on business managed to talk his way past the guard that Thomas, whose mother had left him alone while she was on a cruise, felt emboldened to ask for help.
Thomas' stay with us was supposed to be for just a few months until we could find him permanent housing suitable to someone with his disability. But as far as we know, his parents had never bothered to diagnose his condition or get him in the social services system, and we've found roadblock after roadblock as we've tried to find him a caseworker and understand what we should and shouldn't be doing for him. The domestic partner is so wracked with guilt over having not seen what was going on that he views keeping Thomas with us where at least we know he's safe as some sort of penance. And Thomas is such a low-maintenance houseguest—he does his chores without fail, he keeps his bathroom freakishly clean, and for some reason he's taken it upon himself to make sure we never run out of milk or bananas—that having him in our guest room is absolutely no trouble ... except whenever we have guests.
Thomas is ineligible for Medicaid because his mother and her second husband listed him as a phony employee at the second husband's company so they could lease a car (and do who knows what else) in his name. So on paper, he's earned too much income to qualify for federal assistance. At least that's what we've been told by Social Security. But we've gotten him a part-time job that will qualify him for health insurance after he's worked there for a year. Which will be in February. My insurance provider told me point-blank that they would never insure him, which I didn't even realize was a possibility. Remember how John McCain and Sarah Palin ranted incoherently about the horrifying threat of socialized medicine? This is what they apparently want: for developmentally disabled, unskilled people like Thomas to go without insurance—and, by extension, medical care that they could possibly afford–all in the interest of saving a few bucks in taxes.
The domestic partner and I went to what was promoted to us as the best gay attorney in Chicago to make sure we had all the legal protections of marriage. He drew up a thousand dollars in wills and powers of attorney and related documents, and we thought we were all set. But since then we've learned from our financial planner and some other attorney friends that mere wills—especially the wills of gay domestic partners—are easily contested by blood relatives and we need to fork over thousands more to have trusts and who knows what else drawn up to protect ourselves. So we're looking for a better attorney who will give us the legal protections we asked for in the first place.
We have now quit-claimed and refinanced the house so everything is in both our names and—as we've been told but I've learned to believe nobody—that the house is safely ours no matter what. But if we had marriage as an option, we wouldn't need to jump through all these goddamned hoops and have all these unanswerable questions.
Why we haven't pressed any charges
It's a family decision.
One final, kinda selfish thought
I figured that a nice little byproduct of all this exposure might be tons of sponsorships for my upcoming Hustle up the Hancock. But it's generated no donations yet. Ahem.