Guest Blogger

Half a Spouse Is Better Than None

Filed By Guest Blogger | October 15, 2010 1:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality
Tags: gay marriage, marriage equality, Robyn Greenspan, same-sex marriage

Editors' Note: Guest blogger Robyn Greenspan is a social media and executive careers expert and writer, but most importantly, happily and legally married.

RobynGreenspanBeach.jpgFriday nights are the hardest.

After a long week in the office, it used to be the night when we're both drained and we'd unwind at a sushi bar or with a pizza on the couch and catch up on Project Runway or Mad Men.

It's also the dawn of a weekend together; 48 hours of endless possibilities ahead.

Instead, when you have a spouse who travels 50 percent for work, Friday is when the tick of the clock becomes loudest; a reminder that the next two days when others are coupling off to the dry cleaner and grocery store, having date night and are snapshots of domesticity in sweatpants, I'm a third wheel, or home alone, online, eating gummy bears for dinner.

Thankfully, we have a lot more modern technology to stay connected than when we first met on AOL in 1995 debating the merits of PageMaker and QuarkXpress as platforms for desktop publishing. (I bet on PageMaker). Back then, AOL was $2.95 an hour and long distance phone calls weren't free. Eventually I got a 30 minute per month plan on a mobile phone.

Comparatively, I'm now spoiled by random smiley face texts, a photo of a sunset, a quick video chat, and phone calls to say good night from any time zone.

We get through the separation lately knowing this is the home stretch. The company is moving to Florida at the end of the year, along with the job. There was a relocation offer but it's not an option for us.

Because in Connecticut, the state where we live, we're legally married. In Florida, we're not.

In Connecticut, we are afforded all the same rights, responsibilities and protections as other legally married couples; in Florida, we are legal strangers.

In Connecticut, we can quickly make healthcare decisions for each other. With one of us a breast cancer survivor, this is undeniably important. In Florida, "close friends" are given some authority but only after attempts to reach blood relatives are exhausted.

Florida is also one of the 29 states where it's still legal to fire someone because of their sexual orientation.

We can stay in Connecticut or move to one of the other places where same-sex marriages are legally performed: Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Iowa, Vermont and Washington, D.C. or legally recognized: New York, Rhode Island and Maryland. However, we're still denied the 1,138 Federal benefits, rights and privileges like Social Security and joint tax filing. There's also that annoyingly unfair extra "gay tax" on health insurance.

One sentence in the New York Times today provided the motivation to write this. "'It Gets Better' Starting Now for Gay Youth" explores the challenges of a couple of really young gay kids and the impact of the recent suicides of Rutgers student Tyler Clementi and others.

After watching some of the YouTube videos initiated by columnist Dan Savage's It Gets Better campaign designed to inspire hope in LGBT youth, 12-year-old Daniel Derraugh said:

"But he was in college. I thought it was supposed to get better after high school."

"It" does get better. "It" can be the external conditions and treatment from others, but "it" is also our internal coping mechanisms.

Everyone can help make "it" better. What can you do to ensure others don't have to grow up with messages of inferiority? Or even having to face difficult choices about where to live or work? Start right now by becoming involved with The Coming Out Project. Contact your legislators to repeal DOMA and pass ENDA.

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Something has been bothering me about the message that "it does get better". I think it is because that message somehow places the whole concept of living a vibrant life on external conditions. Perhaps I am wrong, which wouldn't be unusual. But, in thinking about it I lean towards placing the emphasis internally. For example ... It only gets worse until you get over the psychosis that your life and your enjoyment is based on what other people think of you. Perhaps it is my belief that it is silly to expect others to respect me until I respect myself. Is not suicide symptomatic of a severe lack of self respect?

My response to someone who contemplates suicide is "what is wrong with you? Are you so dependent on the opinion of others that you are blind? This is your life, not theirs. Seize it and tell those who trouble you to take a hike."

Yes, I know that the message could be cast to be saying the same thing but the emphasis is a subtle turning of concept. Making "it better" requires challenging the individual not handing them hope that they will find themselves in a better environment.

It's also important to remember that for a lot of youth this is a mental health issue - depression can't be solved with a simple "Buck up, kiddo" message. Considering how little our country cares about mental health, we should be reminding them of its importance after these suicides.

Judy Rickard | October 16, 2010 5:39 AM

...and for those of us whose spouses have to leave the country, please remember to add pass UAFA or truly comprehensive immigration reform that includes same-sex binational couples. I'd love it if our separation was between states, rather than countries. I'd love it more if none of us had to be separated at all!


There's almost a "chicken and egg" thing going here: do the external conditions cause internal strife, which can lead to depression and suicide or are those who are more internally fragile pushed over the edge by continued external rejection?

It could be easier for young kids to understand that the outsides get better, rather than enlighten them that part of this is an inside job. That may be too much for a kid to handle when all he's worried about is getting beaten up in the hallways.

Thanks for your comments.

Finally, someone sad the magic words! It is about learning how to cope, how to survive in a hostile enviroment! It doesn't get magically better, you have to learn a whole lot of different life rules to cope and survive.

Like, if your Intersexed in Florifda getting married means to 'them' it's a same as a SSM marriage, and if your caught the state can cite you fir defrauding the state. Its the same for Tansgender people too. It's one reason why I moved from Florida to Conneticutt.

(omg, trying to type on a iPad on a fast bus over potholes ....sheez)