There are many reasons for me to support marriage equality, but this personal story is the most compelling.
My uncle and his partner had been together for over 25 years. They had met at an estate auction, an event they both enjoyed. They soon became a couple, doing everything together. They bought a home; they worked at their respective successful careers; they lived a normal, suburban life. They paid taxes, stimulated the local economy, voted, and contributed to their community, as would any normal, loving couple, gay or straight. They even rescued a dog.
When my grandmother got sick with dementia, my uncle’s partner, Tony, stepped in and helped my Uncle Walt with caregiving duties. He assisted Walt in her financial affairs, taking her to the doctor, out to lunch, whatever he could do to ease some of Walt’s burden.
In May of 2011, Tony was diagnosed with a hideous, fast-spreading cancer that would quickly take his life four months later. My uncle Walt was devastated, and immediately went into deep grieving; he remains in grief counseling to this day.
And to add further insult, in deep-red Tennessee, Walt had no rights to Tony’s estate since there is no recognition of the rights of same-sex couples. Tony’s estate defaulted to his father, the man who had kicked him out of his home so many years earlier. My uncle, who had shared his life with this man, his partner, for all of these years, who held Tony’s hand in death, who loved him with as much love as anyone, was entitled to nothing.
So, let’s do the right thing. This is the civil rights issue of our time. Gay marriage should be legal in Oregon, Tennessee, and every state in the United States. The time is now, for love is love.
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