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posted Friday, August 8 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 32

From paper to practice
by Mark Segal - Philadelphia Gay News

Who would have thought that a broken arm would lead anyone to appreciate marriage equality?

About a month ago, my partner of 10 years, Jason, and I were married. At the time, like many longtime partners we thought - more likely I thought - it's just a piece of paper. We'll get married and go on living like before.

Then, while on a motor scooter - something that Jason advised me against - I was in an accident that broke my arm and required surgery.

First up was the police report. Was I married? Then the ambulance medical team and their paperwork. Then the numerous doctors and clinics I had to go to to be cleared for surgery. The EKG, lab workup and physical - all of which had forms and all of which had that box to check: married.

But it was the day of the surgery that it really became apparent. Doing the paperwork I again checked married, and then added next of kin and who was responsible for my medical decisions during the procedure if needed, which made me aware of how oppressive the refusal of marriage recognition really is.

Since there was no expectation of a longtime marriage with its legal hold, many of us had always listed our friends in that box. Then Jason made it even more apparent to me when he insisted that he was taking me to the procedure, and taking off work to care for me. It was his duty and I should just expect it.

But the best was when I was taken back to be prepped for surgery. At first I was led alone, then when the nurse became aware that Jason was my spouse - I really like this - she said, 'Oh, he's family.' Then in a loud voice, 'your husband.' Then she explained that family was allowed to be in the prep room. She went out and grabbed Jason and proudly stated, as she marched him back to my temporary room, 'He's his husband, and family is allowed here in prep.' She went on to tell us about her 90-year-old Gay uncle.

So, marriage is more than a piece of paper and I'm learning that each day. And this is one lesson that is one of the most joyous I've ever had. By the way, please don't give me a pop quiz just yet- I'm still learning.

Mark Segal, PGN publisher, is the nation's most-award-winning commentator in LGBT media. You can follow him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MarkSegalPGN or Twitter at https://twitter.com/PhilaGayNews. www.epgn.com.



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