Friday, February 08, 2008

A Telephone Call From Cousin Tom

I have been strangely silent about the recent court decision that allowed Domestic Partnerships to finally come to pass in Oregon this past Monday, as couples lined up early to register, believing, hoping, and praying that the piece of paper would stand the test of time. Usually, the relationships already had, as many of the couples had already been together twenty years or so, and the registration was another piece of the paper trail they'd pieced together to bind them in case of an emergency, so that no hole in their legal protections would bar one of them from a hospital room or leave one homeless if the other partner died. For some of the couples, the registration changed their future, as babies carried in the womb of one partner would enter the world legally belonging to both moms, instead of being in limbo as adoptions proceeded slowly for the non-biological partner and birth certificates were reissued.

This is a big thing. Adopting your own children is an offensive practice, unless all are required to do it. There is no requirement for men, unable to supply sperm, to adopt the babies their wives produce via insemination, why should we have to?

I'll leave that soapbox for another day and just say that we've been through the process three times now, and you cannot imagine how beautiful it would be to bear a child knowing that you both are legally parents from day one.

Having spent years writing about same-sex marriage from the inside, and following the stories, letters to the editor (there was a beaut today in the Oregonian, in case you like to torture yourself by reading what is essentially hate mail), and editorials, I'm a bit gun shy on the subject. Sure, I penned a column to send out after going to the rally supporting domestic partnerships on January 30th, but held onto it and held my breath, hoping that the February 1st decision would make my arguements moot.

They did for now, and I will file that one away for the future, in case we are required to fight to keep domestic partnerships law during the months ahead, as seems likely.

But the good news is that some people get it. There were e-mails waiting in my Inbox February 1st as the decision was made public, and then again on the Monday, as couples actually registered. The best part was the telephone message from Cousin Tom, a man I described in my book as "a man famous for his hazardous firework techniques, frequent injuries, and resemblance in size to a refrigerator" (and a heart just as big), who called to say congratulations on the decision to grant domestic partnerships, and that "sort of, kind of, in a roundabout way, we were married again" and that just to show how much he cared, he was missing the Superbowl kick-off to call. OK, I was already tearful on that one, it was said with such good feeling, but when he called again the next day and we talked, he said that when he and his wife learned how many rights were denied us as a couple--during the debate on domestic partnerships--he was shocked. He's even been getting into it with his construction co-workers, who are so far unconvinced.

Thank you Cousin Tom, keep at it!

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