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March 4, 2011 3:54 PM   Subscribe

Ed Watson and Derence Kernek have been together for forty years (SLYT). Last summer, 78-year-old Ed Watson was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. His greatest fear is that he will "lose the ability to recognize [his] beloved Derence when he gets on his knee to propose." This is their heartbreaking plea to the California Supreme Court to rethink its refusal to expedite key Proposition 8 hearings.
posted by superquail (54 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
heartbreaking.
posted by milestogo at 3:58 PM on March 4, 2011


How the hell does it hurt me or anyone else if two people of the same gender get married? It's nothing but hatred, prejudice, and discrimination. And that crap argument about a man wanting to marry his horse is a bunch of horseshit.
posted by Daddy-O at 3:59 PM on March 4, 2011 [11 favorites]


Every time I see one of these things I think, "How can anyone - ANYONE - watch this and not be moved? How can anyone remain a bigot after seeing this?"

The answer is always horrible. Because it's a lot of people.
posted by ORthey at 4:00 PM on March 4, 2011 [18 favorites]


I feel the same way. This is absurdity in the name of invisible sky creatures. Just heartbreaking.
posted by dejah420 at 4:03 PM on March 4, 2011 [7 favorites]


Oh, for Pete's sake, I was trying to get through this day without punching a wall. Yeesh.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:08 PM on March 4, 2011


They seem like the perfect couple, devoted to each other's last days. I hope the stay is lifted anyway, but the damage this ruling has done to these two is especially heartbreaking.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:09 PM on March 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Won't somebody think of the invisible sky creatures?

Thank Leviticus that John Boehner is taking a brave, principled stand.
posted by Danf at 4:13 PM on March 4, 2011


My grandparents have been married for about 65 years. My grandpa has alzheimer's. He no longer recognizes me but still smiles every time he sees my grandma. His love for her is one of the few things he can hold onto.

Every family should be recognized.
posted by mai at 4:13 PM on March 4, 2011 [13 favorites]


The voters of the state of California have decided these men deserve to die as second class citizens.
posted by Nelson at 4:15 PM on March 4, 2011 [9 favorites]


The gay marriage opponents that havent been reached by the tools or Reason and common Sympathy at this point are simply too far gone and simply cannot/will not be reached.

Plan B is a vigorous round of cockpunchings and I for one think it's well past time that wee exercised that contingency.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 4:16 PM on March 4, 2011 [7 favorites]


The voters of the state of California have decided these men deserve to die as second class citizens.

Is this true? I thought the civil union laws in California made it at least legally equivalent to marriage?
posted by Avenger50 at 4:22 PM on March 4, 2011


Separate but equal = second class.
posted by kipmanley at 4:23 PM on March 4, 2011 [16 favorites]


Danf: Thank Leviticus that John Boehner is taking a brave, principled stand.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) announced on Friday that he was spearheading a process that will, ultimately, witness the House of Representatives taking over the legal responsibilities of arguing for the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act.
Wait, what? The House of Reps can do that?
"It is regrettable that the Obama Administration has opened this divisive issue at a time when Americans want their leaders to focus on jobs and the challenges facing our economy," Boehner said.
Because a flood of new marriages will be so awful for the economy, right?
In a statement from her office, Pelosi said she would oppose Boehner's efforts, calling them "nothing more than a distraction."
Anyway, this isn't about religion. It's about discomfort with something different from your worldview. Don't get distracted by religious mumblings, because there's plenty in religious texts to muddle up any debate on morality. It's about personal discomforts in a place that are not anyone else's business but the couple in love.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:27 PM on March 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


Avenger50 to the coloreds-only courtesy phone. Avenger50 to the coloreds-only courtesy phone. (Feel legally equivalent now?)

(I can't watch this now. I'm recovering from heartbreak. I can only wish those in love ALL the joy the world will allow them, and for the world to back off & let them love.)
posted by IAmBroom at 4:28 PM on March 4, 2011


"Is this true? I thought the civil union laws in California made it at least legally equivalent to marriage?"

Nope. Something like 1000 federal rights and 400 state rights are granted by marriage but not by domestic partnerships (what we call civil unions).

I will say that despite my full opposition to Prop 8 that it's a bit of a shame that these guys didn't get married during the 173 days this was legal. They'd still be married, despite Prop 8.
posted by klangklangston at 4:30 PM on March 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh, and just as a hedge:

Let up a bit on Avenger. A lot of people don't know that civil unions or domestic partnerships aren't equivalent under the law. He asked a question, he didn't assert that things were just as good or anything like that. When you attack folks for asking questions, rather than attacking people actually trying to take rights away and perpetuate this injustice, you're aiming at the wrong target and you make otherwise sympathetic people less likely to listen to you.
posted by klangklangston at 4:33 PM on March 4, 2011 [39 favorites]


And the worst part is that this couple's plea is only to lift the stay that was to remain in effect pending appeal. Remember, the judge struck down Prop 8, but the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals granted ProtectMarriage.com's emergency request for a stay in Judge Vaughn Walker's Prop 8 ruling.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:37 PM on March 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Nope. Something like 1000 federal rights and 400 state rights are granted by marriage but not by domestic partnerships (what we call civil unions).
Is that true in CA? I was under the impression that the rights were identical there.

And unfortunately, they won't get any of the federal rights until DOMA is overturned.
posted by delmoi at 4:40 PM on March 4, 2011


Why, oh why does god want to keep people who love each other from marrying? I don't get it...thought the formula was god=love. turns out god=jimmy bakker's version of love.
posted by nevercalm at 4:54 PM on March 4, 2011


When the fuck are people going to stop meddling in the lives of others owing to their own biases?

The Golden Rule, people, the Golden Rule.

Remember what your kindergarten teacher taught you.
posted by bwg at 4:54 PM on March 4, 2011


Melodramatic, ain't it?
posted by Yakuman at 4:55 PM on March 4, 2011


On a serious note, is it possible to set up a last will to grant all/most/many of the priveleges/rights that a marriage affords? I fully support the legitimization of gay marriage (or the de-legitimization of het-marriage), but in the mean time, in crazy-sad cases like this, are there any other quick remedies? This is just.....I don't know....dark-ageian. Disgusting. Heartbreaking.
posted by nevercalm at 4:57 PM on March 4, 2011


See, John Boehner, this is why we don't want to delay civil rights until after the economy is fixed. Do you see how wrong it is to say this shit:
It is regrettable that the Obama Administration has opened this divisive issue at a time when Americans want their leaders to focus on jobs and the challenges facing our economy.
Justice delayed is justice denied. This isn't about the economy. It's about people's ability to pursue happiness, and live life with the simplicity, benefits and reassurance built into the legal and corporate systems for heterosexual couples.

And no, you can't just say "Why can't you gays have civil unions?" That's separate but equal at best, which the Supreme Court has determined is fundamentally unequal, even if an honest effort is made to make civil unions "equal" to marriage. And, of course, having two separate definitions of spousehood means there will inevitably be gaps in complicated things like insurance, taxation and benefits.
posted by mccarty.tim at 5:04 PM on March 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is why conservatives never talk about gay couples. They use the same talking points: "It destroys the sanctity of marriage", "children do best with a mother and a father", "you're changing the definition of marriage", "first gay marriage, then polygamy, and before you know it people will be marrying ducks"! When someone mentions the real gay couples who are harmed by being denied marriage rights, this is what they divert to. When Judge Walker gave his ruling about Prop 8, well, it was those arguments versus the simple idea that marriage rights should be given regardless of the couple's sexuality.

Of course despite his long, detailed ruling the conservatives reverted to their old talking points that Judge Walker so eloquently debunked. They know it's not about abstracts like "destroying the sanctity of marriage" or absurdities like "people will marry ducks". It's about denying people's rights out of hatred, plain and simple. I'd like to see Mike Huckabee look Ed Watson and Derence Kernek in the eye and tell them their marriage would be a threat to "stable society".
posted by catwash at 5:10 PM on March 4, 2011 [8 favorites]


Is that true in CA? I was under the impression that the rights were identical there.
posted by delmoi


For a domestic partnership in CA you have to live together. Which means if, for example, one partner needs to go into full time care outside the home, then the partnership is dissolved.
posted by Garm at 5:12 PM on March 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Well, I was already in a foul mood today. This didn't help at all.
posted by rtha at 5:26 PM on March 4, 2011


Ok. First off, Prop Ha8e totally sucks.

Next...what is this? This is a couple that has been together for 40 years. Some of those latter years that they could have gotten married, they chose not to for whatever personal reasons they may have.

NOW...close to death he(they) want to get married...after the line to the recorder's office closed?

I really don't understand that. Yes, they should have the right to get married whenever they want to, but they chose not to for so long and are doing it as they are dying?

What?
posted by hal_c_on at 5:38 PM on March 4, 2011


they chose not to for so long and are doing it as they are dying?

It would be super cool if we could not pass judgement on these two men for not running out and getting married on any of our goddamned timetables. None of us know why they didn't get married during the sprinkling of opportunities they had. Maybe one of them was too ill to make the trip to the county registrar's office or something. My point is, back the hell off.
posted by palomar at 5:44 PM on March 4, 2011 [19 favorites]


I mean, do you also pass judgement on hetero couples who don't get married for years and years? Or do you just figure, huh, different strokes for different folks, ain't none of my business when or why they decide to marry?
posted by palomar at 5:45 PM on March 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


I spoke to a prospective legal client yesterday. She and her husband had recently gone through bankruptcy and were discharged in January of this year. A month later, her husband abruptly dropped dead of a coronary embolism in front of her and her two younger children. She had just been informed by her previous attorney of a provision in the bankruptcy code that permits a bankruptcy trustee to re-open a bankruptcy estate and take the proceeds of life insurance policies and other death bequests that happen within 180 days of the filing of the bankruptcy. Since the filing was in early October, her husband's death fit into this time period, and she was concerned that the $280,000 or so in death benefits were going to be seized by her creditors. Since her business had recently failed-- necessitating the bankruptcy, of course, this would be financially ruinous towards her future.

I listened with sympathy and looked through the law. Fortunately, 11 USC §522(d)(11) allows a debtor to exempt the proceeds of life insurance policies if the debtor was a "dependent" of the deceased party. And sure enough, the bankruptcy code defines a spouse as always being the dependent of the other spouse. I was able to tell her that her marriage most likely was going to save this money from seizure.

After I hung up, I realized that if the woman was my next-door neighbor, and his partner of 11 years had been the one to drop dead, and they had just filed bankruptcy-- in other words, if everything was exactly the same-- the law wouldn't protect him. Domestic partner? It wouldn't matter. This policy is sick, twisted, and cruel. Those who defend it are too. I just can't state it any more plainly than that.
posted by norm at 5:46 PM on March 4, 2011 [56 favorites]


I mean, do you also pass judgement on hetero couples who don't get married for years and years? Or do you just figure, huh, different strokes for different folks, ain't none of my business when or why they decide to marry?

Ease up, man. This isn't judgment on these folks, its suspicion from me not on this couple...but on the organization that is pimping them out sad-style like Dickens.

That's all. stay cool, just talking here...
posted by hal_c_on at 5:48 PM on March 4, 2011


Your earlier comment said absolutely nothing about the organization "pimping them out" (btw, wtf?). You only talked about how weird it is that these guys didn't get married earlier. It's really easy to interpret your statement as being critical of these men when you don't bother to mention the thing you claim to be questioning, and instead only level criticism at these two men.
posted by palomar at 5:55 PM on March 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Thanks, norm, for providing a concrete case study for this. I always find that sort of thing really helpful for clarifying the issues.
posted by LMGM at 5:58 PM on March 4, 2011


oh, and also: jeezis this is a big plate of anguish and frustration.
posted by LMGM at 5:58 PM on March 4, 2011


Your earlier comment said absolutely nothing about the organization "pimping them out" (btw, wtf?). You only talked about how weird it is that these guys didn't get married earlier. It's really easy to interpret your statement as being critical of these men when you don't bother to mention the thing you claim to be questioning, and instead only level criticism at these two men.

Cool. I'll take that into consideration for next time.
posted by hal_c_on at 6:06 PM on March 4, 2011


After I hung up, I realized that if the woman was my next-door neighbor, and his partner of 11 years had been the one to drop dead, and they had just filed bankruptcy-- in other words, if everything was exactly the same-- the law wouldn't protect him. Domestic partner? It wouldn't matter. This policy is sick, twisted, and cruel. Those who defend it are too. I just can't state it any more plainly than that.

Thank you for writing this.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:11 PM on March 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Oh, is this where we're posting homophobic things that are making us all want to bash our heads against the wall? Ok, my turn:

After the committee vote today in Maryland's state legislature, Democratic delegate Emmett Burns, Jr. (who voted no) was asked about the comparison between black and gay civil right:
"I will argue for the position that civil rights were not the same, our civil rights, the movement was not the same," Democratic delegate Emmett Burns, Jr. told Reuters. "Those who juxtapose the two are gravely mistaken."
posted by auto-correct at 6:17 PM on March 4, 2011


I suppose I should also point out that my neighbors couldn't have filed for a joint bankruptcy anyway, since that is a privilege reserved for married people too. So assume their facts included two filing fees, two separate and suspicious case trustees, and unpooled exemptions, which possibly cost them property even before the cruel circumstance of losing death benefits because of entrenched legal bigotry.
posted by norm at 6:43 PM on March 4, 2011


God bless these two. And by God bless, I mean let them marry.
posted by humannaire at 8:12 PM on March 4, 2011


That is just sick and gross.
posted by Xezlec at 8:22 PM on March 4, 2011


To clarify, I was referring to the forces working against marriage in California.
posted by Xezlec at 8:24 PM on March 4, 2011


To clarify my clarification, I was referring to the forces working against this particular, obviously long-overdue marriage in California. (Good God, it's ridiculous how many words and phrases are tainted by the stain of right-wing sentiment, when you think about it.)
posted by Xezlec at 8:25 PM on March 4, 2011


For the love of god, please, arc of justice, bend a little more swiftly!
posted by scody at 10:01 PM on March 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm sad that they can't get married, but I'm also just plain sad for them that Alzheimer's is gonna rob them of more (lucid) time spent together, and that not even the courts can change that.
posted by needs more cowbell at 12:29 AM on March 5, 2011


As to why they didn't get married when they could have... it almost doesn't matter. People are complicated, they make choices others wouldn't consider logical and stick by them. My dad and his partner have been together for 35 years. They live in Canada and I begged them to get married, mostly for practical reasons having to do with pensions and property. They never would - my dad because they never had the money for the wedding he wanted to have, his partner because he was Catholic and was unwilling to wed if he could not marry in his church. Basically, having rights made them picky about exercising them, which is common enough.

They chose, in my estimation, bad and short-sighted reasons not to form a legal contact with the state, but this was not my marriage and not my choice to make.

Of course, as they aged and the pensions and property issues became much more immediate and pressing, and their idea of the function of marriage (wedding cakes and ceremonies vs. legal protection) changed, it pretty much became too late and neither party was really compos mentis. Luckily, Ontario recognises common law marriage for same sex couples, so we can claw back the pension rights of one party to support the residential care needs of both, but in a situation like Ed and Derence's, that would be a nightmare.

So, whatever: who knows why they didn't marry in a 173-day window. It's none of our business and it shouldn't matter. The point is that they should have the right to marry today, right now, because right now is when they want to.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:43 AM on March 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


Wake up people, and if you are awake slap your neighbor.
posted by Kale Slayer at 3:34 AM on March 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Something like 1000 federal rights and 400 state rights are granted by marriage but not by domestic partnerships (what we call civil unions).

Yep -- "Project 1138 is designed to increase public awareness of the 1,138 federal marital benefits and protections denied to same-sex couples as the result of marriage inequality."

And here's a small subset of the 1,138 benefits, rights and protections provided on the basis of marital status in Federal law.
"Filing joint income tax returns with the IRS and state taxing authorities.

Creating a 'family partnership' under federal tax laws, which allows you to divide business income among family members.

Inheriting a share of your spouse's estate.

Receiving an exemption from both estate taxes and gift taxes for all property you give or leave to your spouse.

Creating life estate trusts that are restricted to married couples, including QTIP trusts, QDOT trusts, and marital deduction trusts.

Obtaining priority if a conservator needs to be appointed for your spouse -- that is, someone to make financial and/or medical decisions on your spouse’s behalf.

Receiving Social Security, Medicare, and disability benefits for spouses.

Receiving veterans' and military benefits for spouses, such as those for education, medical care, or special loans.

Receiving public assistance benefits.

Obtaining insurance benefits through a spouse's employer.

Taking family leave to care for your spouse during an illness.

Receiving wages, workers' compensation, and retirement plan benefits for a deceased spouse.

Taking bereavement leave if your spouse or one of your spouse’s close relatives dies.

Visiting your spouse in a hospital intensive care unit or during restricted visiting hours in other parts of a medical facility.

Making medical decisions for your spouse if he or she becomes incapacitated and unable to express wishes for treatment.

Consenting to after-death examinations and procedures.

Making burial or other final arrangements.

Filing for stepparent or joint adoption.

Applying for joint foster care rights.

Receiving equitable division of property if you divorce.

Receiving spousal or child support, child custody, and visitation if you divorce.

Living in neighborhoods zoned for 'families only.'

Automatically renewing leases signed by your spouse.

Receiving family rates for health, homeowners', auto, and other types of insurance.

Receiving tuition discounts and permission to use school facilities.

Other consumer discounts and incentives offered only to married couples or families.

Suing a third person for wrongful death of your spouse and loss of consortium (loss of intimacy).

Suing a third person for offenses that interfere with the success of your marriage, such as alienation of affection and criminal conversation (these laws are available in only a few states).

Claiming the marital communications privilege, which means a court can’t force you to disclose the contents of confidential communications between you and your spouse during your marriage.

Receiving crime victims' recovery benefits if your spouse is the victim of a crime.

Obtaining immigration and residency benefits for noncitizen spouse.

Visiting rights in jails and other places where visitors are restricted to immediate family."
posted by ericb at 7:01 AM on March 5, 2011 [8 favorites]


And unfortunately, they won't get any of the federal rights until DOMA is overturned.

And because of such Massachusetts filed a lawsuit against DOMA.

Mass. Challenges Federal Defense of Marriage Act
Massachusetts, the first state in the nation to legalize gay marriage, has become the first to challenge the constitutionality of a federal law that defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman, saying Congress intruded into a matter that should be left to individual states.

"Our familes, our communities, and even our economy have seen the many important benefits that have come from recognizing equal marriage rights and, frankly, no downside," Attorney General Martha Coakley said this afternoon at a news conference announcing the lawsuit. "However, we have also seen how many of our married residents and their families are being hurt by a discriminatory, unprecedented, and, we believe, unconstitutional law."

The suit filed in US District Court in Boston claims that Congress, in enacting the Defense of Marriage Act, "overstepped its authority, undermined states' efforts to recognize marriages between same-sex couples, and codified an animus towards gay and lesbian people."

... The lawsuit argues that the DOMA, which was enacted in 1996, precludes same-sex spouses in Massachusetts from a wide range of protections, including federal income tax credits, employment and retirement benefits, health insurance coverage, and Social Security payments.
posted by ericb at 7:08 AM on March 5, 2011


""I will argue for the position that civil rights were not the same, our civil rights, the movement was not the same," Democratic delegate Emmett Burns, Jr. told Reuters. "Those who juxtapose the two are gravely mistaken.""

He is right that they're not the same and that the movements aren't the same. But the underlying values and beliefs, in equality and humanity, are the same.

I used to get into this discussion all the time when I was canvassing black folks, and something I'd point out is that the civil rights movement as it existed isn't the same as the one that's going on now — affirmative action is bound to the same concerns, likewise media campaigns against discrimination, etc. The civil rights movement won some important battles, but it's now more focused on broader systemic change. The ongoing struggle against sexism isn't necessarily part of the civil rights movement either, but it is important and it's an outgrowth of those same values. Likewise, the fight against discrimination for sexual preference.

Gay activists can be really blithe and blase about adopting the mantle of the civil rights movement, and for a lot of black people that's alienating and insulting, so it's something that has to be done with a lot of tact and care to be inclusive.

On the other hand, a lot of black society — including a lot of black churches — are incredibly socially conservative while being economically liberal, and with that social conservatism comes bigotry. When people like Burns speak, it does appear to be coming from that position of bigotry.
posted by klangklangston at 9:26 AM on March 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Mass. Challenges Federal Defense of Marriage Act

Overview: The Six Current DOMA Lawsuits.
posted by ericb at 1:47 PM on March 5, 2011


Gay activists can be really blithe and blase about adopting the mantle of the civil rights movement

Honestly curious if you have examples of this.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:13 PM on March 6, 2011


Mostly from my own experience talking to other canvassers — there's a big "This is the new civil rights movement!" motivation for a lot of activists, especially younger ones, and there are things like this blog post. It's also something that a lot of black people talk about if you talk to them about gay rights, especially gay black folks.

And it's not universal consensus in any direction, just something that's really alienating to a lot of black people.
posted by klangklangston at 11:21 PM on March 6, 2011


I'm not sure when African-Americans took ownership of the term "civil rights", but I'm not sure I agree with it, even as badly as blacks have had it in the United States.

And as near as I can tell, using similar language alienates social conservatives who think gays and lesbians are going to hell, anyway.

So I'm not sure it is the language that gay people use that is the issue, so much as wonder if a generation of people who grew up with a lot less discrimination are happy to discriminate against their fellow Americans, because they got theirs and don't care to know any better.

That would make them a bit "blase" about the true depth and meaning of their parents' and grandparents' struggles, maybe. But I don't know if that makes gay people "blase", or makes gay people's choice of language the problem.

Even if the goal is to figure out how to reach out to and communicate with people, blaming the ones who are oppressed here and now doesn't seem like a good starting point.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:46 PM on March 6, 2011


On the other hand, sometimes, DOMA is advantages. Near as I can tell, if the federal government recognized my marriage, they could make me pay income tax on my partner's income. My partner not being an American citizen means they can't, as things stand.
posted by Goofyy at 6:37 AM on March 7, 2011


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