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To get married, they left Ohio
July 14, 2013 6:02 PM   Subscribe

New York was the closest to drive to, but they’d both need to be there for the license and return for the wedding. Out, they decided. California and Washington, and the knot of northeastern states that have legalized same-sex marriage, were too far. Maryland required only one partner to come for the license. Then a 48-hour waiting period. It was an hour and 10-minute flight. This might work, they decided: A destination wedding in Baltimore.
posted by hoyland (54 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
That aside, it's a moving story, thanks.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:26 PM on July 14, 2013


I violated my normal rule of not reading the comments and surprisingly they're mostly great.
posted by octothorpe at 6:27 PM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


maryland used to be a destination for shotgun weddings: you could get married at 16.
posted by ennui.bz at 6:40 PM on July 14, 2013


I find this egregious. I also think they could have done this without the trauma.

Want to get married? Jump the broom or sword or whatever your feel is required to make this so.

As an atheist I don't look to religion to sanctify my choices.

I aslo don't look to religion to make my choices acceptable.

Do what you want to do. If consenting adults are involved you have my blessing. You also don't need my blessing.

My mother was in hospice. She wanted to go to Florida to see the ocean. She asked her doctor if this was wise. His answer was "What's the worst that can happen? You die?" In the case of these two I think that is the worst that could happen.

I don't get what was gained here. If it was solely a political point then I support that. Otherwise I don't get it. I am probably speaking from a position of privilege, so don't abuse me too hard, but I don't look to the state or religion to validate my choices. As a straight unmarried man I am often in the same situation. I am told that my "girlfriend" has no "insurable interests" and as such I can't make her my life insurance beneficiary. Etc. I get it., but these choices aren't nearly as difficult when one partner is dying. It's not like you have to worry about who is making the medical decisions when you are going under the knife (again, something I've had to decide since I wasn't married).

I get the desire to be married, and if that's all that's going on, great. If this was the last grasp at Disneyland then I love these guys as well. If it was something they could have done without hauling a sick man out of his bed to make a point...well, screw that, screw what I wrote above. I admire them even more.

Fucking heroes.

Like I said, consenting adults doing what they like to the end!
posted by cjorgensen at 6:46 PM on July 14, 2013


There are over 1000 federal benefits that come with marriage (but not with jumping a broom). Different ones are probably more and less important to different people.
posted by ftm at 6:56 PM on July 14, 2013 [21 favorites]


I don't get what was gained here. If it was solely a political point then I support that. Otherwise I don't get it.

Basically, the more pieces of paper they have, the better off they are in general. The issue in the DOMA case was that there's a tax advantage to inheriting from a spouse rather than a random person. That's something you start thinking about when one of you is going to inherit from the other in the fairly short term.

It's not like you have to worry about who is making the medical decisions when you are going under the knife (again, something I've had to decide since I wasn't married).

Umm... the details of ALS mean that you want your partner to be able to have as much authority in advocating for you as possible. That's probably true for most terminal illnesses, really.
posted by hoyland at 7:04 PM on July 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


I am an atheist too and religion has nothing to do with my marriage. Federal law, however, does.
posted by lydhre at 7:04 PM on July 14, 2013 [20 favorites]


This is a good example of why we can't all up and move to a more progressive state. Every couple's story is their own and we have very different reasons why we stay: custody, health, family, career. As Americans, it should not be too much to ask to expect site of celebration to be at the very least the Federal standard for recognition of marriage. The benefits are substantive, especially with regard to end of life issues.

And, as Edie Windsor states, "I've asked a number of long-range couples, gay couples who they've got married, I've asked them: 'Was it different the next morning and the answer is always: 'Yes'.' It's a huge difference." I can tell you, it truly is.
posted by Morrigan at 7:05 PM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


cjorgensen: I don't get what was gained here. If it was solely a political point then I support that. Otherwise I don't get it. [...] I am told that my "girlfriend" has no "insurable interests" and as such I can't make her my life insurance beneficiary. Etc. I get it., but these choices aren't nearly as difficult when one partner is dying. It's not like you have to worry about who is making the medical decisions when you are going under the knife

The article does discuss that a bit. Their initial view was that it was "a symbolic ceremony with no tangible benefit", but Arthur's diagnosis changed that for them.
"Ask such couples why they want to get married, and [...] the talk often turns to the dark what-ifs that reside at the end of life.

What if my partner’s in cardiac arrest and the emergency-room staff won’t let me in? What if my partner’s family challenges my custody of our son after she’s gone? What if, as in the case of the DOMA plaintiff, my partner dies and I owe $363,000 in estate taxes instead of the nothing that a heterosexual spouse would owe?"
I'm not sure what you mean about not worrying who is making medical decisions in a terminal illness scenario. Terminal illness often brings with it difficult balancing exercises about quality of life against longevity instead of straightforward and obvious treatment decisions. Those are times where I think it is more important than ever to have someone you trust at the reins.
posted by curious.jp at 7:06 PM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


As an atheist I don't look to religion to sanctify my choices. I aslo don't look to religion to make my choices acceptable.

This wasn't about asking religion to sanctify their choice, but about asking the government to do so.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:13 PM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Nitpicking, but New York isn't closer to Cincinnati than Maryland. I don't understand why it wouldn't have been the immediate first choice.
posted by spaltavian at 7:15 PM on July 14, 2013


Sorry, I assumed they lived in Cincinnati because of the newspaper; but the same holds true for Over-the-Rhine.
posted by spaltavian at 7:17 PM on July 14, 2013


Do you have Cleveland and Cincinnati confused? It's like a six hour drive to New York from Cincinnati. (They do seem to be from Cincinnati-ish.)
posted by hoyland at 7:19 PM on July 14, 2013


Oh, I see. I misread your comment.
posted by hoyland at 7:21 PM on July 14, 2013


Cleveland would be really close to New York, but Cincinnati is further south so Maryland would be closer. (Maybe not Baltimore, but they would practically have to drive through Maryland's panhandle to get to New York.) I'll stop the geography derail now.
posted by spaltavian at 7:21 PM on July 14, 2013


Google Maps says 5h45 to Cumberland, MD and 6h to Jamestown, NY. Maryland is presumably closer, but the interstate goes to Pittsburgh, not into Maryland, whereas you have a straight shot into New York, which probably makes it seem closer. But I'm not from Ohio, so who knows.
posted by hoyland at 7:24 PM on July 14, 2013


someone must be cutting onions
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 7:27 PM on July 14, 2013


There are over 1000 federal benefits that come with marriage (but not with jumping a broom). Different ones are probably more and less important to different people.


And many of these expire on death. I get this.

Umm... the details of ALS mean that you want your partner to be able to have as much authority in advocating for you as possible. That's probably true for most terminal illnesses, really.

I understand this, but it also seems when you are at the point of having to make the choice of where to get married based on what's closest you are pretty far past needing to consider who has what rights regarding medical care. I say this as a person who has taken care of someone in hospice and known someone with ALS (and did tech support for this individual in hospice).

I am an atheist too and religion has nothing to do with my marriage. Federal law, however, does.

The next fight!

I feel for these guys, and changed some of my opinions as I wrote my comments, since I was reading as I wrote. I wish we lived in a world where who you were married to had nothing to do with benefits or rights beyond what you and the person(s) you are marrying decide.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:37 PM on July 14, 2013


It's right wing social engineering. They assume that people who are married, own homes, own automobiles, etc. etc. will vote conservative, so they use government resources to incentivise these choices.
posted by idiopath at 7:43 PM on July 14, 2013


You can just go to Maryland by yourself and say "One marriage license saying so-and-so and I are married, please"?
posted by Flunkie at 7:52 PM on July 14, 2013


You can get a license that allows you to get married, but the license isn't valid until a registered officiant signs it, in state, with both parties present. Same in DC (and in lots of other places). Actually, in DC their officiant could have applied for and picked up the license (though, again, everyone would have to get together in the District for the signature).
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:57 PM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


It appears to vary by county. This one for Howard County indicates a single party and this one for Cecil indicates both.
posted by codacorolla at 7:58 PM on July 14, 2013


What a great story, thanks for posting it. Also, the need to fly instead of drive (too long?) may have been a factor in their choice of jurisdiction. They didn't actually fly to Baltimore City proper (no airports of any size inside the city that I'm aware of). I'm pretty sure they were at BWI Airport south of the city in Anne Arundel County.
posted by postel's law at 8:12 PM on July 14, 2013


Oh, great point, postel. They could not have gotten married in DC, for instance, since National Airport is in Virginia.
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:28 PM on July 14, 2013


Over-the-Rhine is the historic German neighborhood in Cincinnati just north of downtown. Lunken Airport is the original Cincinnati regional airport on the Ohio River before CVG was built in Northern KY. /end conclusive point of origin answer to geography derail.
posted by toodleydoodley at 8:34 PM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


They went to Maryland because there only one person was needed to get the liscense; New York State would have required both people to make both trips.

Marriage really is about legal rights - particularly at the worst of times like sickness or death. I've been having a congenial discussion/argument with a friend in an opposite sex relationship who is not married to her partner. She doesn't want the fuss, isn't worried about being married, but I worry that there are rights that they may not have that won't matter until they are in some dire circumstances. They may have some protection from being the biological parents of their daughter, or from the recognition that Canada grants common-law couples. But I still worry that there is some significant right they could be denied that they don't know about.
posted by jb at 8:44 PM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't get why they didn't get married in Ontario.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 9:58 PM on July 14, 2013


My mother and stepmother were not married when my stepmother died as a result of medical malpractice following surgery. (This was well over a decade ago, when people were only just starting to talk about gay marriage as an official thing in places like Vermont, and we lived in Missouri anyway.) They knew the surgery my stepmother was going in for was risky; they tried to get all the permissions, legalities etc. they could afford to get sorted out sorted out beforehand. Despite their best efforts, my mother:

-Was repeatedly and capriciously denied access to my stepmother as she lay dying slowly and in horrible pain over the course of several days; whether my mother could visit at any given time depended solely on the whims of the hospital nurses who happened to be on duty. Some sympathetic nurses were kinder to my mother than others. My siblings and I were barely allowed to visit at all.

-Was overruled by my stepmother's estranged biological family on a few crucial medical choices.

-Had absolutely no legal authority to hold anyone at the hospital accountable for obvious negligence. (My stepmother died because a group of nurses dropped her on the floor during a bed transfer. Her abdominal incision broke open and her stomach ruptured. They left her bleeding on the floor for 20 minutes and then failed to tell the surgeon who had performed the surgery or the doctor who was supervising the floor what they had done until several hours later, during which time irrevocable damage was done.)

-Was not granted control over my stepmother's remains, or her memorial service. In fact some of my stepmother's relatives tried to force us to leave the memorial service when we came.

Oh and my mother also eventually lost her job over this, because she could not take regular family leave to cover her absences for her partner's illness and death. And also we eventually lost the house we lived in, because it was in my stepmother's name, and therefore her legally sanctioned family members were able to gain complete control over her property after she died.

I was a teenager in college when this all happened.

My little brother was six at the time.

Do not fucking tell me that a marriage certificate is just a piece of paper.
posted by BlueJae at 9:59 PM on July 14, 2013 [73 favorites]


I don't get why they didn't get married in Ontario.

Glancing, Ontario requires both parties to show up and get the marriage license. They didn't want to do that because it's very hard for John Arthur, who has ALS, to travel.

They were looking for a place where Obergefell could show up and get the license on his own, and then they could both travel there in a medical plane, get married, and immediately fly back. Maryland fit the bill, and they were actually in Maryland for less than an hour, entirely at the airport.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:10 PM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't get what was gained here.

Did you read the post? Did you realize one of the partners has a terminal illness? (Do people bother to read links on this site anymore?)
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:53 PM on July 14, 2013


BP, cjorgensen made reference to the fact one of the gentlemen has a terminal illness in the comment you quoted.
posted by gingerest at 1:06 AM on July 15, 2013


I feel for these guys, and changed some of my opinions as I wrote my comments, since I was reading as I wrote. I wish we lived in a world where who you were married to had nothing to do with benefits or rights beyond what you and the person(s) you are marrying decide.

Oh, I get it! We're all pretending it's 1999 because it's the MeFiversary!
posted by liketitanic at 1:20 AM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Never before have I wanted to scream RTFA louder. Before people come on and threadshit on an article that actually MAKES THE CASE for marriage equality, please, please RTFA.

That said, I am so glad they had the opportunity to get married and am so sorry for all the couples that have not gotten the chance to be with their partner during illness and death due to illness, deportation or terrible families. DOMA, and the resulting suits in the remaining 37 states will eventually make it so that no one has to suffer this way. Unfortunately, I fear, it will still happen as long as marriage is not recognized in all 50 states.
posted by Sophie1 at 7:10 AM on July 15, 2013


I'm so glad they were able to do this. I'm sad they had to fly to another state to do so.
posted by rmd1023 at 7:15 AM on July 15, 2013


Aside from that glaringly callous comment, let's remember this: ALS is the fucking WORST WORST WORST.
posted by Madamina at 8:26 AM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also: stupid goddamn office onions.
posted by Madamina at 8:43 AM on July 15, 2013


maryland used to be a destination for shotgun weddings: you could get married at 16.

Elkton, Marry-land:
Elkton boasted fifteen wedding chapels on Main Street in its heyday to accommodate the influx of young couples who wanted to tie the knot. These chapels hosted thousands of weddings each year. “Marrying parsons” would wait at the local bus stop and offer package deals to enamored young couples; couples didn’t have to wait to use their marriage license in Maryland, but they did have to have a church service as part of the ceremony.
posted by MonkeyToes at 8:51 AM on July 15, 2013


I violated my normal rule of not reading the comments and surprisingly they're mostly great.

A funny thing happened when the Enquirer switched to FB comments last year, sane responses (and up-voting of said responses) buried and outnumbered the crackpots.
posted by Mick at 9:03 AM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


cjorgensen -- I'll presume you're well meaning but naive. But your statements match exactly people who I feel know exactly how important marriage is legally, yet claim they don't support marriage equality for your stated reasons "Government shouldn't be involved".

It seems to be the fake libertarian approach to this. Many libertarians are disguised republicans who claim to support freedom, yet any positive step that increases freedom for people they don't like is anathema. Voting rights are great as long as it doesn't require the federal government to actually do anything to stop states from disenfranchising people (which states have historically done and are currently doing). Marriage equality is of course important, but it should be made possible by decreasing the benefits to all (which will never ever happen, of course).

The libertarian fallacy is that freedom just happens if the federal government would get out of the way. Real freedom for all (not just white men) has always been a huge struggle. Regressing to neo-conferatism will decrease freedom for real people. It's a fantasy that things like marriage equality just happen without actively legislating equality.

Again, I assume you mean what you say. But clearly the people who convinced you that marriage equality isn't really that important were very very wrong. Why do you listen to them? Do you think maybe, just maybe, they are either ignorant or not-well meaning? Will you now start arguing for equality and maybe start listening to those who have been working towards it for decades? Is it possible that the people who convinced you of this are just as wrong on many other topics?
posted by jclarkin at 9:07 AM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am probably speaking from a position of privilege, so don't abuse me too hard, but I don't look to the state or religion to validate my choices.

cjorgensen: others have addressed this, but I want to honor the middle part of your request. That may be easiest to do if I simply agree with you that, perhaps, you're indeed losing something from being in a privileged position. It's probably difficult for you to imagine needing to take any special steps for validation of your choices, which, although you most certainly enjoy despite protesting that you don't. Maybe one simply doesn't notice this unless it's absent.

Let me take a moment to recount my own path to recognizing that I do, very much, look outside of my own self awareness to validate my life. I came of age with ACT UP and felt perfectly content in my own skin, happy to be self-reliant. Then I met this guy who had three children, and we started living together. Try as I might, I found that there really aren't any self-actualizing ways around the law of being responsible for someone else's children. This is true for almost every waking second of the day, every act of decision-making: how to take a kid to get a vaccination; how to pick up a kid from school at the end of the day; how to sign a liability waiver for a kid at a skate park; how to register a kid for a food allergy with an airline; how to chaperone a field trip; how to take a kid to the ER; how to get a kid onto health and auto insurance plans; and so on. That's just the hint of an example involving kids.

Maybe your position of privilege isn't just that you don't need to worry about getting married to someone with whom you share a desire to do so. Maybe your position of privilege is that you don't have kids, or that this simply isn't a problem you notice with your kids. Maybe your position of privilege hasn't had to figure out the minefield of not getting audited when filing your taxes from the same address with a shared mortgage without being spouses or business partners. Or maybe you don't notice how expensive it is to hire an attorney to resolve these problems without the simple switch-flip of marriage, because you don't have to deal with that (by the way: it's very, very, very expensive).

If you did have to deal with these questions all the time, you'd be much more willing to recognize: my goodness, I do actually depend on the state to validate quite a huge number of things in my daily life. And don't worry, it's a pretty common oversight and not many of us look to other peoples' opinions of the process for validation.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 10:32 AM on July 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


cjorgensen, please take a look at the following links:

From an earlier Metafilter post: "Had Tom and I had the right to marry, many things would have been different. Losing a loved one is devastating enough, but to then be rendered legally insignificant only makes the pain worse."

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.

Bluejae's previous comment about how marraige inequality hurt his family.

You're right that the gentlemen in the article don't have to get married in the eyes of the government. But what you fail to grasp is that there's too much to be lost by them not being allowed to even have the choice.
posted by magstheaxe at 12:06 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


BlueJae, that breaks my heart. My father died when I was a kid, and I can hardly imagine how horrible and complicated it would have been if my mother had had to deal with even a bit of that nightmare.
posted by epersonae at 12:57 PM on July 15, 2013


Any excuse to leave Ohio seems like a good one to me.
posted by Twang at 1:52 PM on July 15, 2013


Or maybe you don't notice how expensive it is to hire an attorney to resolve these problems without the simple switch-flip of marriage, because you don't have to deal with that (by the way: it's very, very, very expensive).

That last thing is why I get annoyed when leftists dismiss marriage equality as an "elite" issue. Poor same-sex couples benefit even more from marriage equality, because marriage is a fraction of the cost of the legal alternatives.

Also, as others have pointed out, marriage is most important when your partner is sick or has died - I totally understand why this couple wanted to marry. I hope that their rights will be respected and that they face no additional burden above the already very heavy burden of ALS.
posted by jb at 4:40 PM on July 15, 2013


That last thing is why I get annoyed when leftists dismiss marriage equality as an "elite" issue. Poor same-sex couples benefit even more from marriage equality, because marriage is a fraction of the cost of the legal alternatives.

The argument isn't that it doesn't benefit poorer couples, rather that they may have other political priorities and that this focus on marriage is driven by the elite. Access to your partner's health insurance doesn't do you much good if neither of you has health insurance. You don't have to worry about whose name(s) the house is in and what happens when one of you dies if you don't own a house, etc. Anyway, I wrote a comment related to this before.

There are, of course, going to be people who think marriage should be so far down the list of priorities that we shouldn't even be talking about it. But I'm kind of sick of hearing about those unthinking leftists or whatever, as if I'm a terrible person for thinking the benefits of marriage equality aren't distributed equally. I'm also frustrated by the HRC sending out canvassers to ask me for money on the street while acting as if the Supreme Court just solved all our problems (so why precisely they need money....). Guess what! Our marriages still won't cross state lines and we can still be fired for being queer in more than half the country! (A trans-inclusive(!) ENDA made it out of committee in the Senate. I'm not exactly holding my breath for the House.)
posted by hoyland at 6:12 PM on July 15, 2013


Poor people can be denied access to their partner in hospital (no matter if Medicaid is paying or not or kept away from their partner's funeral - or have what few belongings they and their partner shared taken from them after a death. In the US, a hell of a lot of poor people - queer or straight - join the military for the benefits, and now all of their spouses will be able to access their benefits. And poor people are the least likely to be able to get documents like a health care proxy, power of attorney or even a simple will.

This doesn't mean that things like ENDA aren't important (though, frankly, I would put safe homes for homeless LGBT teens at the top of the list if we really want to prioritise). Marriage Equality is also important and the timing is good to push for right now. It's something which is a purely legal issue (unlike homelessness, violence against LGBT people, etc) which can be decided by a court regardless of public opinion (unlike ENDA). When marriage equality passed in Ontario, the majority of the country was against it, and the then prime Minister had been the one to put through our own version of DOMA in the 1990s (he later changed his mind and backed marriage equality). But public opinion has no place in a court decision about minority rights, which is why so many important civil rights changes have started with court cases.

But having marriage equality has changed how Canadians think - now a majority support it. And I can imagine that it's changed a lot of people's minds on other LGBT issues as well, including things like
job discrimination. That's not to say there aren't other battles; I spent my Pride week raising money for a community centre that offers just about every service for LGBT people except marriage services. But it doesn't make marriage a less worthy battle, and it's the battle that all the pieces are lined up for.
posted by jb at 6:41 PM on July 15, 2013


Like I said before, I'm not saying the poor see no benefits. That'd be silly. But I don't think they benefit 'even more' than the elite like you suggested.

It's something which is a purely legal issue (unlike homelessness, violence against LGBT people, etc) which can be decided by a court regardless of public opinion (unlike ENDA).

Pursuing court challenges isn't without risks, though. The last thing you want is a precedent going the wrong way. The challenge to Prop 8 came after the big LGBT organisations decided against challenging it. They turned out to be wrong, but they feared a federal court ruling saying Prop 8 was constitutional.
posted by hoyland at 7:37 PM on July 15, 2013


maryland used to be a destination for shotgun weddings: you could get married at 16. Also one of the few states that allow first cousins to marry. My grandparents were married in Virginia, I wonder why as they never lived there.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 8:04 PM on July 20, 2013


Because Virginia Is For Lovers, duh!
posted by idiopath at 8:58 PM on July 21, 2013


I got married in VA despite not living there because there's no waiting period. Go to the courthouse, get a license, call one of their recommended officiants, walk across the street, do the deed, all in an hour or so.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:39 AM on July 22, 2013


because there's no waiting period.
Which explains it, I guess World War 2 I guess pushed a lot of people to head to VA.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 4:51 PM on July 22, 2013


Because Virginia Is For Lovers, duh!
posted by idiopath


Not if the crazy guy who wants to ban oral sex, etc, gets elected - or maybe they'll change the slogan to "Virginia is for frustrated lovers!"
posted by jb at 7:41 PM on July 22, 2013


They've obtained a temporary court order requiring that Arthur's death certificate list them as married, as they've filed suit to have their marriage recognised by Ohio.
posted by hoyland at 3:16 PM on July 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Ohio Attorney General Has No Plans To Appeal Temporary Restraining Order In Gay Couple’s Case
posted by homunculus at 6:31 PM on July 25, 2013


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