Earlier this week, my wife had a medical emergency. She’s fine and we’re fine (and thank you for your concern), but the details and traumas of that are not why I’m tapping eight hundred words into an iPad from a doctor’s office waiting room.
Unrelated: iPads are the worst thing for actual writing. Seriously awful.
I got the call while I was at work, and that was when I learned that Nicole was in the Emergency Room. I told my boss and sprinted out of the office in the middle of the afternoon. When I arrived at the hospital, I told the admittance nurse that I was Nicole’s husband, and she helped me find her. I told hospital security that I was her husband, and they let me into her private room. I told the doctor that I was her husband, and they shared medical information and made sure I was informed about her prognosis.
My wife was in the hospital for a little over 28 hours, and at no point did anyone ask me for an ID or a marriage license or ask me about our first date and the names of her cousins. We are different races and different sizes, but we wear the rings and took the vows and now “I’m the husband” are magic words that make doors open and paperwork appear.
When people talk about gay marriage, they talk about churches being forced to perform weddings they don’t consent to, which is just bullshit that will never happen. Churches are still free to turn away couples who don’t conform to their religious standards, even if those religious standards include not liking black people. I saw someone lamenting that cake decorators would have to stock up on groom and groom cake toppers since all the gays are going to be getting hitched now. We talk about wedding planners being sued for not organizing an event for two women, as if that’s the part that matters. It’s not.
Marriage really counts when the shit hits the fan. When I got that call, everyone from my boss at work to the administrators at the hospital to the management at Nicole’s work respected the fact that when I spoke, I was the husband, and I had the power to speak for my wife. With that power I cancelled her doctor’s appointments, called in sick to her work, and filled her prescriptions, including meds that are controlled substances.
It is impossible to keep two people, any two people, from falling in love if they want to be in love. I invite you to try. People of the “wrong” tribe, the “wrong” family, the “wrong” color, the “wrong” religion, and the “wrong” gender have always fallen in love, and they always will. Could someone talk you out of your love for someone? Once you recognize that fact, it is barbaric, it is wrong, it is evil to allow people to love each other without also letting them speak for each other.
DOMA and Prop 8 were struck down a week ago, but 37 states still refuse to license gay marriages or recognize gay marriages performed in other states and countries. Indiana just made it a felony to apply for a marriage certificates while under the influence of The Gay. It’s great that the federal government no longer discriminates, but the real mess of life, the illnesses and burials and births and divorces, happen on the local level in local hospitals, and before local judges.
Here in Texas we have some real assholes in government. I know, because my representatives are some of the biggest bigots and cowards in the lot. The only way this changes is if we get involved and let people know that even (especially?) in Texas, we aren’t OK with this nonsense. We’ve already tried the systemic subjugation and the separate-but-equal dance numbers, and neither of them worked out well for us.
Since Nicole came home, we still have a lot of work to do, a lot of doctors appointments to meet, and a lot more prescriptions to fill. I keep flexing these powers of marriage like they’re going out of style, and I keep glancing through the looking glass to a reality where I don’t have them. If Nicole had been born a Nick or I was born an Irene and we met at middle school band camp and fell in love in high school and dated through college and everything was the same except for our gametic gene expressions, where would we be now, two gay kids in the Dallas suburbs? If she had never come home, would I have been allowed in the hospital room to say good-bye? If I don’t come home tomorrow, will she be evicted from our new house?
I can’t stand to think about it, and the beauty of my straight privilege is that I don’t have to. My house is my castle and I’ve got 200 years of American case law and 2,000 years of Western civilization built into what it means to be “married.” That meaning is starting to get a little bigger, and that’s a great thing. It just can’t happen soon enough.