Dustin Lance Black teamed up with Google and YouTube to stream a play about marriage equality and Proposition 8. The play is a great way to get up to speed on the happenings of Proposition 8 (past, present, and future). It’s also a great way to take a little peak into the lives of the plaintiffs, to see how marriage inequality impacts their family life. Until today, I didn’t know who the plaintiffs were (other than knowing about the name “Perry” in Perry v. Schwarzanegger, now Perry v. Brown) and seeing them helped shape my outlook on the case: they’re actual people with lives and families.
Jamie Lee Curtis, acting as Sandy Stier, summarized what I feel was one of the most poignant parts of the play:
“The first time somebody said to me, ‘Are you married?’, and I said, ‘Yes’, I would think, ‘That feels good and honest and true.’ I would feel less like I had to protect my kids.”
This is a question I can relate to. When strangers ask me, “Are you married?”, I stumble to find the right words or feel like I’m thrust into the middle of a debate where I’ll have to make some kind of argument to demonstrate I am in a valid relationship. What is marriage? Is it just the commitment Dan and I made to one another? Then yes, I’m married: we are in a committed relationship.
Or is marriage merely a contract that binds us together under the law? If that’s the case, then no, I’m not married. We rent an apartment together. We have a joint bank account and credit card. We go on trips together and stay in the same hotel room. We pay our taxes separately and we have separate health insurance. We say “I love you” when we wake up, go to bed, and head off to work. We are just like every other couple out there. But, when it comes to legal rights, we have nothing that binds us together. If Dan was in the hospital and I wanted the right to see him during family visiting hours, I’d have to pay a lawyer hundreds of dollars to draft some kind of contract, the same contract straight couples get for $45 at the courthouse. When people ask, “Are you married?”, I’m forced to say “No, I’m not.” And that leads to other questions, “Well, you have a ring on your finger. What’s that about?” Either that or they ask about my wife…
And some people ask, “Well, why don’t you move to a state where same-sex marriage is legal?” They don’t understand that flying to a state where same-sex marriage is legal and getting a certificate there doesn’t make us married here in Utah. The minute we cross state lines, legal benefits associated with marriage dissolve.
Understandably, I got a little verklempt when Jamie Lee Curtis shared her (or rather Sandy’s) thoughts about what it will be like when she can say, “Yes, I’m married.”