Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Why Gays Need Marriage -- Reason #480

Reason #480 isn't literal -- it's from a hip hop lyric from A Tribe Called Qwest:
Industry lesson #480: record industry people are shady.

Last week, an elder lesbian and a young gay man were laid to rest. You couldn't meet two sweeter people on God's green earth. I vacillate between anger and sadness, as most people who grieve do, but I'm most blown away by the oddity of it. I'm 38. I didn't expect this to happen. I didn't expect to bury two or three people a year, which had been the average for me in the past ten years.

I know that my dear sister was single, but don't know if she had a will or made provisions for her final rest. And I do know for a fact that my young brother did not have a will, despite being ill for a few years with AIDS, and living his final days in a hospice. His lover, younger than he, and also living with AIDS, barely knew what his husband's wishes were once deceased.

I have witnessed funerals turned into revolting travesties where family members have come out of the woodwork and ignored the spoken, but not set-to-paper, wishes of the dead; suits and ties put on men who wore African robes because they looked too much like dresses, dresses put on lesbians who last wore one when the bus was a nickel; homophobic diatribes wearing the mask of a eulogy. I have heard more times than I care to remember "the wages of sin are death, and this young man was a sinner, just like we all are." I have seen partners seated at the back of the church, not with the family, or referred to as a friend, roommate, or not mentioned at all.

Gays need marriage, or at the very least, a formal legal recognition of their relationships that prevents the aformentioned hate crimes perpetrated. Please don't tell me you're a Christian and ignore the grief of a partner left behind because you don't want to accept their relationship. Please don't call yourself a minister and get in the pulpit and offer that grieving funeral attendees "get right with God, because I see a few of you that need to be saved." While marriage or civil union won't stop idiots from crawling out from under their rocks, it will make sure that a spouse's decision regarding the disposal of the deceased will be honored, including who presides at the funeral. It will make sure that assets, including the house a couple has purchased together during the course of their relationship, will go to the survivor.

Rest in peace, Dorothy and Jaysane. You're loved back here on planet Earth, and never forgotten. And to those of us that are still here, get your house in order. Get insurance, make a will, and make sure someone knows where to find these things before they're needed.


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