A Simple Case for Humanity01.30.10
Too often the case against gay marriage toes the religious or revisionist-history lines, people arguing that marriage has always been between one man and one woman since the beginning of time and that homosexuality is a sin. People reduce gay marriage to terms of grotesque creatures, not loving human beings and breaking nature’s law. People argue against it with broad strokes, sweeping generalizations, they point to old texts and hide behind their prejudices, their fears, their ignorance. It’s much easier this way. All too often the reality of the effects of the gay marriage ban get ignored.
This is the reality, in real terms, happening to real people, dealing with the greatest of human trials: grave illness.
Bryan Dickenson has been with his partner, Bill Sugg, for 30 years. But their union is not recognized in any shape or form by any government entity because they live in Texas, where even civil unions and domestic partnerships are illegal. This means that when Sugg had a stroke and has been in the hospital undergoing extensive rehabilitation since, Dickenson was not allowed sick leave to care for his partner by his employer AT&T, who would extend those benefits to a married, heterosexual couple. Instead, Dickenson has to use his vacation time in order to go care for his companion, his lover, his spouse in the hospital and is worried that once he runs out, if he continues to ask for time off work to be with Sugg, he would be fired.
This is wrong. Plain and simple. Not that AT&T is necessarily to blame – the law is the law, and Dickenson and Sugg have no union to speak of as far as the state of Texas or the United States of America are concerned. Legally, they’re merely roommates, friends at best.
But they aren’t just roommates or friends. They are family. If Texas legalized gay marriage, this wouldn’t be an issue. As it stands, AT&T has no legal reason to allow Dickenson to use his sick leave. This type of cruelty must stop.
I know that I haven’t written much about the trial against Prop 8 here in California – not having any legal education, I would merely be reposting what others already are saying in a much more informed way – so I am eagerly awaiting the potential ramifications if Prop 8 is indeed found to be unconstitutional and discriminatory. I hope that it is, and that the case is eventually brought to the Supreme Court, whose ruling would apply to all gay marriage bans across the country, including this one in Texas.
Of course, by that time, it may be too late for Dickenson and Sugg, and the countless more gay couples with stories like theirs. Banning gay marriage does nothing to help heterosexual marriage; it only seeks to harm homosexuals. It’s cruel, it’s inhumane, and it’s heartless.
Here’s hoping Bill Suggs has a speedy recovery and that Bryan Dickenson can be there every step of the way.