TIME FOR A RANT
3 January 2003
done a good rant in awhile, but I received news today that makes me furiouson many
levels. This concerns two women, whom I will
call Jane and Mary, but it also slops over into other areas as well, so forgive me if I
Mary is from
this country; Jane is from Australia. The two
met and fell in love several years ago and have been partners all this time, though they
have continued living in their respective countries, traveling back and forth whenever
possible to spend as much time together as they could.
AREA #1: Think of all those wonderful
romantic movies where the foreign traveler has a mad passionate romance while traveling,
and the final scenes show the lovers embarking on their happily ever after. Thats wonderful if youre Joe and
Jane, but if youre Maria and Jane, or Giuseppe and Jim, you are in for a lot of
hassle, a lot of frustration, and, if one of you happens to live in the United States, a
impose moral judgements on relationships. When
Joe and Jane may be madly in love and decide to spend their lives together, their big
decision is your country or mine? They
set up housekeeping, and its perhaps a bit of a time wait, and a lot of paperwork,
but eventually the non-resident alien, by virtue of his or her new marital status, is
granted permanent residency.
its Mary and Jane, your choices are much more limitedand much more
frustrating. Jane could not, for example,
gain permanent residency in the United States. Mary
could have gotten permanent residency as a same gender spouse in Australia, but it
aint easy. For one thing, a tourist
visa is granted for one year, with multi-entry status, but it is not able to be renewed. In order to be considered in a committed same
gender relationship, you have to prove that you have been together for 365 daysnot
364, 365. So that means that in order to even
consider applying for permanent residency in Australia, you must begin building proof of
your commitment on day #1 of your visit, and you must file for residency on the very last
day that your visa is valid (meaning you are then in the country illegally, while waiting
for a response.)
recognizes same gender partnerships, but here too, all is not as easy as it would seem on
paper. A lesbian couple I have recently heard
of decided to settle in Canada, a country which recognizes same gender partnerships. They had it all planned. They would settle down and raise a family. Woman #1, the Canadian, was artificially
inseminated, and her partner was going to be the stay-at-home mom and raise their child. Only the judge decided shed never heard of
artificial insemination for lesbians and obviously if Woman #1 was pregnant, she must have
been with a man, therefore she was bisexual and that was enough to invalidate the
womens partnership. There would have
been no question whatsoever if Woman #2 had been a man.
The last word I
had of this couple, the judge had reluctantly granted permanent residency to the American,
but not as a partner, as a worker. This means that in order to stay with her family,
she must work outside the home and hire childcare for the baby she intended to
stay home to mother.
digress. Back to Mary and Jane.
middle of 2002, Mary was diagnosed with terminal cancer.
When she was hospitalized, Jane flew from Australia to be be with her partner. It was then when I became aware of them, as a
mutual friend near Melbourne contacted me, trying to find a contact address for the
hospital where Mary was dying. I was able to
find the number, she called, said her goodbyes to Mary, and Mary died a day or two later.
scheduled to go to LA for Steves show, and since Im now such an expert on
grief, and since I knew Jane would be devastated by losing her lifes partner, and
since I knew she'd left her support system behind in Australia, I called and talked with
her on the phone at length. I had hoped to
meet with her when in LA, but that never happened.
Jane is back
in Australia now and her grief is being compounded by the actions of Marys sisters,
who are contesting Marys will, which left some things to Jane. They are also
accusing Jane of stealing Marys ashes to bring with her to Australia
(not true, as the ashes are still in California). The
thing that makes me angry is now insensitive Marys sisters are being of her
relationship with Jane. And would they have
treated a male surviving spouse in such a callous manner?
#2: Go now immediately and rent If
These Walls Could Talk, Part 2 Its
3 mini stories which are set in the same house in different decades. The first one, for which Vanessa Redgrave won an
Emmy, is the story of two elderly lesbians, who have lived together for years and years. Their care in presenting a public face of roommates and the love and
affection they feel for each other when they are in their home is a tragic reminder of the
stigma of same gender couples, especially in the 50s, when this is set, but in many areas
One of the
women dies suddenly and the story is the painful aftermath for the other, Redgrave, as she
has to hide the grief at losing the love of her life while watching her partners
only surviving relative, a nephew she has not seen since he was a child, take over the
house, sell off the womans things, and be totally oblivious to the depths of
Redgraves grief, and insensitive to the
nature of their relationship.
to mind the story of a 72 year old gentlemen I met at a PFLAG meeting, who lost his
partner of over 50 years and the resulting financial hassle that ensued following the
death. It ended in his having to sell the home they had built together and lived in
for decades, and move into a small apartment, which necessitated selling their lifelong
art collection, because he had no place to put it.
It seems that in looking at same gender couples,
so many people can't see beyond the whole physical thing. "The ewwww
factor," someone called it once. There are huge groups of people who seem
to think that it's impossible for two people of the same gender to form a close, loving,
lifelong bond and that it's possible that it goes deeper than a mere physical act.
That they can love each other. Care for each other. Want to spend their lives
together--just doing simple things like washing the dishes, painting a fence, walking the dog, watching
dumb things on television.
The problem with these short-sighted views is that
it results in the marginalization of
a huge segment of the population, a segment which pays the same taxes as its straight
counterparts, but don't enjoy nearly the same level of benefits as a result.
Thank goodness there are starting to be some
inroads made, but for people who have had to live in a closet their whole life, progress
is painfully slow. Will we ever, in my lifetime, see a day when people can have
legal protections everywhere in the US for things like hospital visitations, death
decisions, inheritance of property, and all of the other >1,000 rights and privileges
that straight married couples enjoy which gay couples pay for but are denied.
The day will come too late for Jane, who has to
endure being relegated to the status of second class citizen and relinquish decisions
about her life partner, and disposition of the things they shared together, to other