by Dan Savage
on Mon, Jan 7, 2013 at 10:02 AM
Last week, the Oregonian profiled Eric Marcoux and Eugene Woodworth, a gay couple together for 60 years. It's a beautiful piece: The pair is smart and witty, and they share valuable insights about the things that make a looooooong-term relationship work. You should read it. Here's a detail that leaped out at me:
We had a dear friend who was a rogue Franciscan. And he married us. Many years later, when Eugene and I were getting close to our 40th anniversary, sitting with the two abbots at Dharma Rain Zen Center, and we said, "We wish we could have a Buddhist wedding." And the one abbot said to her husband, "Well, we really haven't done anything for the gay community. So why don't we give you a space and a ceremony?" So, ironically, we've had two religious weddings, and not any civil union. We can't afford the civil union. Our attorney said, "Often when people come to me at your age I advise them to get divorced." When you have such minimal resources, if one of you has a devastating disease, then you have to spend all the way down in order to qualify for Medicaid. Whereas if you're divorced or single, the burden is seriously reduced. I would love to say, "Let's run over to Washington and do it!" But pragmatically, not. It wouldn't change the internal chemistry, alchemy, that we live with. But boy, I want to live long enough to see this happen in Oregon. Because I've become so aware of the humanizing and civilizing dimensions of being in a publicly recognized relationship.
First, you would think all those brave "defenders of marriage" out there would be doing something about Medicaid regulations that force married couples—married straight couples—to divorce in order to access benefits.
And then there's this: What most opponents of same-sex marriage object to—what most people who would deny this loving, lasting couple the humanizing and civilizing dimensions of legal and public recognition object to—is the idea that two men or two women could stand at an altar and have their marriage blessed in a religious ceremony. This couple has already had two religious weddings. There are plenty of churches and religious groups and religious traditions that will marry same-sex couples and already are marrying same-sex couples. Denying the civil right of marriage to same-sex couples like Eric and Eugene doesn't prevent same-sex couples from undergoing the religious rite of marriage.