Guest Blogger

DOMA & the Death of My Beloved Partner

Filed By Guest Blogger | March 07, 2011 10:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality
Tags: death of a partner, DOMA, marriage equality, same-sex marriage, Ted Hayes

Editors' Note: Guest blogger Ted Hayes is a retired chemist, Baptist minister and Doctor of Counseling. He was recently featured in D. Gregory Smith's post, TedHayes.jpg"Educate Me."

There is cause for a great deal of rejoicing these days. The Obama administration has finally come to its senses and decided discrimination in any form is not something it wants to support. Therefore, the Justice Department will no longer defend the DOMA it considers unconstitutional. Thank you.

I could be more enthusiastic in my support had this decision been made before the death of my beloved. He would have loved to have witnessed this. Yet it was not to be.

Don't misunderstand me: I am very excited for those whom this decision will potentially benefit, but my reaction is somewhat bittersweet. Perhaps you can better understand my position after reading the following, which I wrote shortly after my partner's recent death.

The love of my life has died at the age of 95. You probably didn't know him. Truly, truly that was your loss!

He was the kindest, gentlest, most loving person I have ever known. All who knew him loved and respected him for who and what he was. As for me, my life is a thing of greater beauty and purpose simply because he was a part of it. In all our years together I was truly able to say every day, "I love him more today than I did yesterday."

He was one of that rapidly diminishing group of veterans of World War II. He served in the U.S. Navy for four years. Fortunately, he never had to kill anyone. He was a great lover of all life. And, oh, how he loved animals. And he generously supported those organizations whose purpose was their protection!

He supported the community in many ways both culturally and socially. He supported organizations that were developed to advocate for the disenfranchised, the minority, and the poor. He never was in trouble with the law and never shunned his responsibility as a tax-paying citizen nor did he ever shirk any other responsibility expected of the citizens of our country.

A truly model citizen you might say? Indeed! Yet, many who never met him nor ever came in contact with him - mostly people who identified as Christian -- demanded that he be both condemned socially and be denied equality of citizenship. Some even clamored for his death! Why? It was simply because he was gay.

He was not raised in a home where he was exposed to any religion. But I will tell you one thing: I saw in him a person much more like Jesus than many, many of those who sought to condemn him in the name of Jesus.

We were life partners for decades and there is a great void in my life because he is gone. Although known as a loving person, I never knew I could either love or be loved as deeply and completely as I experienced with him.

As we prepared for his death, we talked about many things. One that broke his heart more than any other was the "Christian" attitude toward us. He never hurt one of them - ever! So he could not understand why those "godly" people so despised us and demanded that we be relegated to no better than second-class status in the country of our births. He never could grasp how our being married would have harmed another's marriage in the slightest, especially since many of those who condemned us experienced three or more spouses during the time we were a loving, monogamous couple. And so we were separated without our loving relationship ever having been recognized legally as a family.

A democracy is defined as the "practice or principles of social equality." That he, who loved, was loyal to and served his country -- allegedly a democracy -- was not granted equality during his lifetime, is an indictment against that claim. I will never forgive my country for that!

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What an exceptionally touching post! Congratulations on being able to spend many decades together, and I'm so very sorry for your loss.

Bob Donahue | March 7, 2011 10:33 AM

I completely understand. My spouse was a Vietnam vet (Marines), and without question the most moral and kind person I have ever met.

When he died (three years ago) suddenly, I was left with dealing with the frustration of having to deal with a system that not only didn't recognize our 17-year relationship, but contradicted itself for most of the places where recognition could (and should have) been possible.

In short - it didn't matter that we had a CU (the only option for us at the time), NO ONE could recognize it because in the end EVERY SINGLE agency was hamstrung by some Federal rule or policy which means that DOMA came into play, EVEN IF they would otherwise have recognized the CU.

This meant everything from SS benefits (even if we recorded his marital status as 'single'), getting the car's title changed, going through state-level probate, down to getting his clothes from the ER all have extra complications because of DOMA. Fortunately the PEOPLE involved (aside from the town hall handling excise tax issues) were all sympathetic and apologetic but their hands were tied.

I'm tired of dealing with people who say that "CU/DP's are enough" - they're not. I'm tired of people who say that "government should get out of marriage" - it's not going to happen. While the armchair sociologists blubber over their imaginary utopias, REAL PEOPLE are suffering under the inequalities that we continue to permit.

I am an American citizen. I demand equality. AFTER that - feel free to opine on how you'd like to change policies for ALL of us, but without equality IN PLACE, it's just wasting our time.

...and sharing this may, in some small way, ease that sense of injustice.

Continuing to speak gently, firmly, angrily, lovingly is your gift. I'm glad you're sharing it with us.

Ted Hayes Ted Hayes | March 7, 2011 2:53 PM

Thanks, Greg, for your kind comment. Thanks to the rest of you also.

John Gagon | March 7, 2011 12:23 PM

I too cannot grasp how our marriage could possibly harm anyone else's marriage or why there's so much hostility from those who train themselves so hard in the arts of "loving thine neighbor" and yet miss that point so completely when it comes to even respecting a neighbor who is not like themselves.

His sentiments will live on. I feel for your loss. My sympathies.

Charlie Cochrane | March 8, 2011 7:38 AM

You're spot on, John. Maybe I missed the meeting where they had "How gay men marrying threatens my 30 year marriage to the (long suffering) Mr Cochrane" on the agenda.

Ted, lovely article, as always. My youngest (your Facebook friend) is desperate to have a gay couple as neighbours...

My condolences on your loss, Ted.

Thank you for this powerful story. He will be missed.