Valentine’s Day this year was frustrating, romantic and amazing. Let’s start with the frustrating part.
I met with my tax preparer on Valentine’s Day. She’s a wonderful person; helpful, professional and quite pleasant. This year she told me that because my Iowa marriage to Richard is considered a civil union in the state of Illinois, she will have to prepare a federal return as if we’re really married filing separately–same for my state return. Then, since we can’t officially file as married at all, she will have to prepare both returns with a single status.
As if?!? Really?!?
Please allow me to be clear: I wasn’t angry with my tax preparer. She was simply doing her job. And I didn’t tell her what was going through my mind, either. It was in that moment I began to understand why some people believe civil unions, while a step in the right direction, are just another form of “separate but equal,” which as we all know, is anything but.
As if. Richard has helped care for my elderly parents while my sister and I work. He left not one, but two good jobs when I accepted positions as a pastor first in Texas and then in Illinois. We made these decisions together, weighing the pros and cons. He sold our homes and arranged for the movers while I went ahead and started each job. I returned home each time to help Richard with the final packing and mover supervision, and then went to our new homes to supervise the arrival of our belongings while he tied up loose ends in our previous communities.
You know, like many “real” married couples do.
As if. I participated in Richard’s older daughter’s union celebration. I baptized our first grandson. I blessed the rings of Richard’s younger daughter and her partner. I was part of the groom’s family wedding party at his son’s wedding. I have a good relationship with all three of Richard’s children and our grandchildren.
You know, like many “real” spouses have with their spouses’ children and grandchildren.
As if. The romance came later when I returned home after my tax appointment. There was a Valentine’s Day card in the mail from Richard. He’s in Florida visiting his brother and sister-in-law; and when I helped him make the flight reservations we didn’t even think about the fact Richard would be gone on Valentine’s Day. Heck, we were just looking for a cheap flight that would allow him to enjoy some time with family away from the Chicago winter. When we realized Richard would be gone on Valentine’s Day, we simply adapted by going out for dinner the night before he left town.
You know, like many “real” “and “older” married couples do.
The amazing part of the day came when the Illinois Senate approved a marriage equality bill. The bill now heads to the House; and while its passage isn’t certain, the chances are very good we will have marriage equality in Illinois by the end of February. By the way, did you know the most vocal opposition to this bill is coming from conservative religious people? Some of the very people you think would promote stability in relationships, love and justice are opposing marriage equality because they believe the legal recognition of same-sex relationships somehow threatens their religious liberty and will destroy the moral social fabric of society.
As if. Personally I believe things like increasing gun violence coupled with fanatical resistance to reasonable gun legislation reform; tax laws and other legislation that widen the gap between the country’s richest and poorest people; and religious hierarchies that promote behavioral control through threats of hell and promises of heaven; as well as religious leaders who participate in cover ups of sexual abuse, have a far more negative impact on the moral social fabric of society than loving same-sex relationships.
Of course, until marriage equality is the law of the land in all states, chances are people like Richard and I will have to go through the whole “as if” routine for not only filing our taxes, but in various other areas of our lives as well. The good news is, we really don’t need anyone’s stamp of approval on our relationship–as nice, and legally speaking, beneficial–such recognition will be one day. We’re married. Just trust me on this one.
May your relationships–whatever forms they take–be healthy, loving and whole.