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Not Gay Marriage, Just Marriage

by KARYN STRICKLER

Cade and Adeline are both highly educated and accomplished professionals. Cade is a physician. Adeline is a public-interest attorney with a Harvard Law degree. Cade first noticed Adie at a Thanksgiving dinner. He says that throughout the evening, he noticed Adie seemed comfortable with herself, laughed easily and was uniquely genuine.

A month into their relationship, Cade ran the Burlington, Vermont Marathon. Running, for him, was the essence of living. He loved the movement, the personal freedom and the natural, endorphin high wasn’t bad either. It surprised Cade when Adie wanted to join him at the marathon. His running had been a source of tension in past relationships. At this marathon, he ran well and Adie was there to support him. He knew that she truly liked who he was and what he did. Cade realized that Adie was the type of person he’d like to emulate in life.

Adie remembered an early shopping trip. They were almost home when Cade remembered that he had stuck earrings for Adie into a set of shoes he was buying, in order to carry them. He realized that he hadn’t paid for them. The fact that he was so concerned he hadn’t paid for the earrings, rather than feeling like he had pulled one over on the store, impressed Adie. It meant that he had character and integrity. One of the things Adie loves most about Cade is his pure heart.

On their first trip together they were playing Scrabble on the airport floor. Several kids gathered around. Cade asked a girl if she wanted to play. The girl said she did and Cade asked if she knew how to spell. She didn’t, but Cade replied, “That’s okay. You can play anyway.” He handed the girl some Scrabble tiles and helped her with the spelling. Adie was taken with Cade’s kindness and patience. She wanted him to be the father of her children.

Their wedding was an energized tribute to their love for one another. Among their many vows, Cade told Adeline: “When you stumble or when you shine, I will love you as tenderly, as I do right now.”

Cade demonstrated how much Adeline meant to him and the place of honor she would hold in his life by saying, “I will continue to make you, our relationship… and family the top priority in our life. And I promise to support you in your efforts to make this world a better place.”

He promised to treat any injury to Adeline, no matter how small, as a major medical emergency. Lastly, he promised that when she asked him to do something around the house, that he would, put a little more pep in his step.

Adeline responded, “Cade, a few weeks ago I asked you what I can do to make our relationship better. You replied that it would help greatly if in my daily life I would take a few deep breaths and relax. And so, I commit to you now that I will remember to take deep breaths and relax.”

Adeline offered further commitments saying, “I will try really hard not to yell at you when I choose to do your laundry. I’m the one who will catch you when you falter and help you find your footing again. I will play, have adventures and be luxuriously lazy with you.”

Adeline told Cade that she appreciated his integrity and that he held himself to high standards. She admired his sense of fairness and justice. She loved how tenaciously he fought on behalf of his patients. She finished with, “You have a good heart Cade, and it is a joy to share my life with you.”

Theirs is a human story. The vows foretold a relationship that was going to be the highest priority in their respective lives and shed light upon their obvious affection for and devotion to one another. Enthusiastic friends and family who were present at the wedding, were certain that this was a proper marriage that was going to last. The party that followed the ceremony was ignited by the spark between the newly weds.

Adeline and Cade’s union gives insight into the promise of lifelong commitment. Of course, as a marriage between a man and a woman, theirs will be sanctioned by the religious organization of their choice and by the state in which they live. They can provide a 2-parent home for their children.

If Cade and Adeline were gay, it would mean that in some states, they will be denied the right to make a lifelong commitment sanctioned by the state and the legal protections such a marriage affords. According to the Human Rights Campaign, unlike their heterosexual counterparts, same-sex couples can be denied the right to visit a sick or injured loved one in the hospital. Despite paying payroll taxes, gay and lesbian partners receive no Social Security survivor benefits.

Gay employees who do receive health coverage for their partners must pay federal income taxes on the value of the insurance. A gay or lesbian taxpayer is forced to pay estate taxes on property inherited from a deceased partner. Gay and lesbian partners are excluded from pension benefits. They may be forced to sell their home to pay high nursing home bills. Gay and lesbian workers are not entitled to family leave to care for their partners or children.

No person, politician, religion, law or organization should stand between two adults who want to make a commitment to share their lives and to have that bond recognized by the government–regardless of their sexual orientation. After all, no one would think of standing between Cade and Adeline’s choice and the legal protection that their union affords. If it were to become a part of the U.S. Constitution, the proposed amendment banning gay marriage would disgrace our nation by being the first amendment to limit rather than expand individual rights.

The fact that Adeline and Cade’s real names are Becky and Sharon — two, real-life lesbian women — does not change the true story you’ve just read or the way we, as a nation, should legally sanction and celebrate their human right to marry.

KARYN STRICKLER is a writer and an activist living outside Washington, DC.

Copyright K. Strickler 2004.

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