Defending Traditional Marriage From Dead Lesbians
by Dan Savage
on Tue, Aug 16, 2011 at 1:30 PM
Five people died at Indiana State Fair when a stage collapsed during a storm. One of the five dead was a lesbian from Chicago: Christina Santiago, manager of programming for the Lesbian Community Care Project at Chicago's Howard Brown Health Center. Santiago's partner, Alisha Brennon, was injured in the accident. But Brennon hasn't suffered enough in the state Indiana's opinion:
The Marion County coroner's office is refusing to release Santiago's body to her partner; the office cited the Defense of Marriage Act as the reason why they've turned down Brennon's request to pick up her loved one's remains. DOMA allows states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. Indiana has its own version of DOMA that outlaws same-sex marriage. Since Indiana law requires the next-of-kin to pick up Santiago's body, but the state won't recognize Brennon as the surviving spouse, Santiago's body is still laying in the morgue awaiting a solution. It's unclear whether or not Santiago has other family available to claim her corpse and take it home for burial.
This is what DOMA is designed to do. DOMA does nothing to strengthen traditional marriages. It doesn't prevent straight couples from divorcing or make straight couples any more likely to take responsibility for their children. The federal DOMA and all the mini-DOMAs enacted by the states only serve to torment and persecute gay people at the most trying moments of their lives: when a partner is ill, when a child is sick, when a partner dies. And people who claim to be Christians will howl the loudest if DOMA is repealed.
I'm so angry I could throw up in Maggie Gallagher's mouth.
UPDATE: These sorts of things have happened—surviving gay spouses barred from bedsides, not allowed to retrieve their partner's remains, barred from funerals by hostile family-of-origin members—but it didn't happen this time:
The Bilerico Project, a Washington, DC -based website featuring news about the lesbian and gay community, created controversy Tuesday after it reported that Brennon had tried to claim Santiago’s body from the Marion County Coroner’s Office, but the office “refused” to release the body to her. The website cited Indiana’s Defense of Marriage Act as the reason for the denial.
The implication was that Brennon and Santiago’s relationship, which is protected by Illinois’ domestic partnership law, was not being honored by Indiana officials. Indiana law prohibits same-sex marriage and domestic partnerships. Backers of that law also aim to solidify that rule in the state’s constitution.
The Bilerico piece has made the rounds across the Internet, but according to a top coroner official in the office, “there was no issue.”
“The wife (Brennon) never contacted us to claim the body so she was never denied that opportunity,” said Alfarea Ballew, chief deputy coroner of the Marion County Coroner’s Office. “The wife is still hospitalized. We’re working with the friends and aunt (of Santiago) to release the body. I’ve never talked to anybody denying the wife that opportunity.
Not sure what was up with Bilerico on this. Forgive me for linking.