I got married for health insurance. I got engaged for love. But the reason my partner and I were legally joined on March 10, 2007 — even though the toasts and flowers and cupcakes didn’t happen until June — was health insurance. I had it, she needed it.
My fiancée had been out of work for a year and a half, preparing for and then recovering from surgery. Now that she was able to work again, she had to make the switch from state-sponsored insurance back to private insurance.
So we got married and my employer added my new wife to my health insurance plan. She was able to pay for her numerous prescriptions and keep all the follow-up appointments with her doctors. I was very grateful to live in a state where activists, volunteers, and policy makers had made possible this solution just 3 years earlier.
A few years later, I saw a documentary film called Edie & Thea: A Very Long Engagement that portrayed the touching story of a long-term relationship between two women. The second half of the film showed Edie tenderly caring for Thea when she became incapacitated by multiple sclerosis.
I was excited when I learned that Edith Windsor, the person who challenged DOMA, was the same Edie who’d cared for Thea in that film. The love those ladies had for each other — when they were young and beautiful and when they were elderly and sick — was everything marriage is supposed to be.
Marriage is an abstract concept, but our bodies make it real. Tonight I helped my wife clean soil out of her scraped leg after she slid into home plate while playing softball. Eight years ago I was helping clean her surgical incisions.
It’s true that unmarried people also nurse and care for loved ones. And of course, we also need voting rights and reproductive choice if we are to become a more equitable nation. Marriage won’t solve all our problems. But it’s important for both the mental and physical health of LGBT people that all marriages be recognized.