I confess, this really, really upset me. I cannot stop thinking about it. And it has been almost a month now. I was so flabbergasted, so speechless, that I could not even get my head to stop spinning long enough to put together a coherent response. And since she made this statement at the very end of the meeting (in fact, she got the last word), I never really got the chance to say anything. So I have spent the last month beating myself up, reliving the moment over and over again, and standing in front of the mirror saying what I didn't say when I had the chance. It hasn't helped. I am still ticked at myself. It was a missed opportunity and I blew it.
How on earth could someone who has seen, up close and personal, the challenges and prejudices the glbt community faces on a daily basis not understand that the word "marriage" is NOT just a word? How? I simply cannot understand this.
I don't want to beat up on this mother, but I can't help beating myself up for not having a ready answer. At the very least I should have been able to say that the difference between the words "Civil Union", "Domestic Partnership", and "Marriage" is this: "Marriage" provides somewhere in the vicinity of 1,400 legal rights, which are conferred upon married couples in the U.S. Typically these are composed of about 400 state benefits and over 1,000 federal benefits. Civil Unions and Domestic Partnerships confer nothing close to what Marriage does. Talk about being "just words".
And for those who argue that most rights and protections can be privately arranged with legal contracts, I say NO, they cannot. I know of 2 different couples, in two different states, who spent thousands of dollars to protect themselves, their assets, and their businesses. One of them told me they were so paranoid, they actually carried the plastic tub holding the many, many documents for each and every protection for which they'd paid dearly, in the trunk of their car. And yet, it still wasn't enough. The families of both deceased partners still won out, leaving the surviving partner with nothing. And if there are children, or one of the partners is not a citizen of this country, well ... good luck ... both situations can have horrifying consequences because the rights and protections of marriage have been denied them because they are same-sex couples.
NO, "marriage" is not just a word.
I just wish I could show the clip below to this mom. It really riled me up and my bet is it would her too. And I think it would explain better than I could have why "marriage" is indeed a big f'ng deal.
Watch it, but grab a tissue first. I don't know why, but this clip hit me harder than I anticipated.