Tag Archives: domestic partner

Woe is Not Me

I came out the first time in middle school. Sort of. I was in seventh or eighth grade and I told my mom I was bisexual. I remember exactly where we were, in the car on the way home, near my brother’s daycare. She took a deep breath and said something very diplomatic, of which the only thing I remember is, “It might be a phase.” I ignored that and told a couple of close friends in school that I was bi, and they were all fairly nice until one person told me that she thought I was just trying to get attention, and let’s just say that she did not say it nicely.

So I went back into the proverbial closet and shut the door behind me.

This is not to say that I went along thinking I was straight, really. I mean, I wouldn’t really answer the question if someone asked. My sophomore year school picture shows me with my pretty long hair and a rainbow necklace; I was dating a boy at the time, and continued to date him into college.

Anyway, long story short(er), I finally heard myself think it my junior year of college, walking across the quad on campus from the dining hall to the library. I was taking a class called “Bioethics and Reproduction” and we were talking about assisted reproduction technologies, blah blah blah, how to make a family, and I thought to myself that I wanted to adopt kids, not make them, and went from there to “Oh – I am not going to have a traditional family,” meaning, of course, husband, one dog, two and a half kids.  And from there: I’m gay. Hah, or something.

And still I didn’t say too much about it, struggled with it, spent a summer debating with a gay friend of mine who insisted that I wasn’t gay, I was just drunk (admittedly, I had been drinking every time we actually discussed the issue, but what? It’s a hard issue to discuss when you’re still figuring it out).

As I said, long story shorter, not long story short.

The point that I’m getting to (eventually) is that coming out for me was just not that hard.  It took a long time, but when I finally did it, I still in a (quite liberal) college, two of my roommates were a lesbian couple (one of whom kept saying things like, “I know and you know and it’s fine” – especially on Coming Out Day) who brought me to various lesbian-geared functions as the “straight friend” (ha!), and once I started telling people they were like, “Oh yeah, I’ve known for years.”

So I’ve had it pretty easy.  I mean, it’s not all a walk in the park, but I’m not struggling the way people were years ago.  There have only been a couple of instances where I’ve been nervous about my safety, and few if any times where I haven’t been comfortable coming out.  I was all, “This gay thing is fun! It’s easy! Why doesn’t everyone do this? (Cause ladies are pretty, you guys, seriously.)”

With all of that in mind, it’s funny that it’s now, now that I’m getting married, and people are planning to come and are excited and supportive and even a big-name wedding blog has me, a lesbian!, writing for them, that it’s getting hard.  It is hard to deal with vendors who are absolutely not expecting both women who show up to be really in the wedding.  It’s hard to get comments telling me I need to stop being worried about being “the gay couple” and suck it up – really, that’s almost harder than the vendors themselves.  It’s hard to realize the benefits that we won’t get once we’re married, and the benefits we don’t get now.

Right now I get taxed on not only the portion of health insurance that I pay for (for Turtle) but also the portion that my employer pays for.  That’s at least $350/month, which is a little more than $4000 a year.  That is a significant amount of money on my current salary, and I haven’t been able to figure out if this will change once we get married, because my awesome health insurance comes out of California, good ol’ Prop8land.  Love you, CA, really, truly, but WTF?

If anything happens to either of us, we don’t get each other’s social security benefits.  Good thing we don’t want to have kids, cause that would throw another wrench into it.

What has been surprising to me is that I thought I was done with the coming out, with the challenges of it all.  I mean, I know we’re never really done coming out – we come out in little ways all the time, to insignificant people and to significant people.  But I knew that already.  I thought I was done with these hard parts, I thought I found my person and we could be safe and protected and together, because at the very least we live in MA – thanks, MA.

I don’t mean to be all “Woe is me, my life is s hard, so sorry I’m gay.”  I’m not sorry, and I wouldn’t change it if I could (side note: can’t change it. Not a choice. moving on.).  But I have spent a lot of time being grateful for how easy the process has been for me, how much support I’ve gotten from my friends and family, through college, and now living in my funny little liberal town near Boston, working at a cat hospital (do you know how many lesbian couples have cats? a lot, you guys.  and I think I know all of them).  I guess while the hard parts haven’t been shocking on their own, the fact that there still are hard parts has been.

A couple of years ago some friends invited me to go to Gay Pride.  I was like, “Why? What’s to be proud of? It’s just a thing! There’s no ‘Brunette Pride’ or ‘Short Person Pride’.  Why should I have to celebrate this one aspect of myself?”  It was such a little (in some ways), easy (in other ways) thing to be gay.  I really didn’t get it.  This year I’m going for the first time; my mom has asked me to march with her and her church, and I’m really looking forward to it. 

Deep thoughts by Little Miss Roughit.  Speaking of LMR, did I mention that I kept my mouth closed about how I liked the ladies when I first started roller derby?  I totally thought everyone was straight and that I would freak them out. Umm soooo off on that one.

Tell me your stories. Thank you.

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Tea is for Take Me

Get it? “T” is for take me? But I’m going to talk about tea? Oh I’m so clever I can hardly stand it, and I’m sure you can’t either.

So, tea.  For the past several years I have been an herbal tea addict.  You can only drink so many cups of coffee before you get jittery, and herbal tea comes in a nice variety of flavors and doesn’t give you the shakes.  Plus it’s a nice warmth when you live somewhere without heat (thanks, Mom, for raising me at a steady temperature of 55 degrees).  Anyway, you get the idea – I liked herbal tea.  I drank coffee for that whole being awake thing.  I considered myself a coffee person with a healthy appreciation for tea.

And then Turtle ruined everything.

You see, she didn’t have coffee at her apartment.  Once I started staying there (after date 3, in true lesbian fashion), we bought a French press and some coffee, but it wasn’t as good as the drip I made at home.  She tolerated my coffee habit, but loved a good cup of Earl Grey.  So I tried it, and I was hooked.

magnet on our refrigerator

We are definitely tea people, and even tea snobs.  We like Earl Grey, Lady Grey, and PG Tips like whoa.  I haven’t had coffee on any regular basis in two years now, and I’m not sure I’ll ever go back.

And not only do we just drink tea: she handed me a cup of tea at the walk on April 6, 2008; we went out for tea on our very first (5 hour, and unofficial) date after the walk; we went to a pretty little tea cafe for our first official date (the next day… a long wait); every day that we worked together we bought two venti cups of Earl Grey with two teabags from Starbucks before work; we went out for fancy tea after getting domestically partnered.  I mean, we did lots of other things too, but tea has been something important for all this time.

So it seems fitting to incorporate our tea habit into our wedding.

We are getting married fairly early in the day (sometime between 9 and 10 am), so we will have tea and coffee available first thing – and, of course, we’ll have a good variety of teas.  On top of that, we are considering some tea-like favors.  So here is what I’m thinking – tell me what you would like!  Or similar ideas…

First, my mom and sister decided that some prints from my print class would be nice favors – possibly framed, possibly not.  I can make a lot of them in a fairly short amount of time, and it’s fun work, and they do look nice framed.  Anyway, my teacher was saying that someone in one of her previous classes had done a lot of work with empty tea bags, and they looked really nice.  So I might try that.

Second, we might have a tea custom made and order loose tea in bulk, like an Earl Grey with hints of something else (TBD).  Then we could package them in pretty little boxes (I love boxes!) or in pretty little teabags with pretty little tags that say something nice about getting married and thanks and all that.  We could even do some bags that are coffee for all you crazy coffee folk (you know who you are).

What do you think?  What would you want?  If you’ve done this, are you doing some sort of themed gift/favor?

And, in closing: Us, with Tea.

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My fiancee is a woman

So it turns out that when I am the one throwing up everywhere and I am the one incapable of walking across a room without stopping for multiple breaks, I can still write in my blog.  But when the love of my life is under the weather, it is far more important for me to clean the house, make the meals, buy orange juice and tissues and medicine, and be available.  And I think that this is the right way for things to be.  So, I’m sorry I disappeared briefly from blogland, but I think it was for the right reasons.

One thing I’ve been meaning to write about for awhile is the way being engaged has changed my ability to/ the necessity of coming out to people on a regular basis.  I don’t mean “coming out” in a big huge way, like, “Wow I finally came out to my family and it was big and huge.”  I mean coming out in the little ways that happen almost in passing, with people who don’t really matter, like conversations I used to have at work: “Oh, you and your boyfriend are moving in together, and he’s bringing a dog and you’re bringing a cat?  Yeah, my girlfriend and I did that, and they get along fine now.”  You can substitute “girlfriend” for “partner”, but it still leaves (I think) a pretty distinct impression of who my person is, gender-wise.

Once we became “officially” engaged, Turtle was no longer my girlfriend, but my fiancèe. Interestingly, when spoken, fiancèe (for a woman) sounds exactly like fiancè (for a man).  It’s a fun little temporary game where I know I’m not coming out every time I mention Turtle, as long as I avoid pronouns… or just mutter them. In fact, sometimes I’ll just skip over them.

“Oh yeah, my fiancèe is currently unemployed.”
“Oh, what does he do for work?”
“Used to work in nonprofit development, but now *mumble* is looking for ….” etc.

Depending on who it is, I will correct them – “Oh, SHE used to work in nonprofit development…” – but more often then not, I just move along and sort of marvel at the assumptions people make.  It’s not that I don’t want people to know I’m dating a woman; it’s more that they don’t need to know, and it’s an interesting sort of social experiment to watch their reactions and my reactions in the whole conversation.  Plus, in slightly less than 6 months, this game will be over – “wife” is not a very gender-neutral term.

What would you do in this situation?  Have you dealt with this at all? I’m curious…

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Domestically partnered

Okay, this post feels kind of big and scary to write, so I’ve been putting it off.  Much like my online nutrition class has been scary and boring to take, so I’ve been putting that off, too, but I now have a clean apartment and have emailed all the apartment people and caterers, so I am forcing myself to pick between blogging or taking my class.  Obviously blogging wins. Don’t tell Turtle.

Before work on Thursday, Turtle and I took the dog for a walk, had some breakfast, and then drove in to Cambridge town hall.  There are only three places where you can register a domestic partnership in Massachusetts: Cambridge, Provincetown, and somewhere else that I can’t seem to find online (does anyone know the answer to this?).  Here we are at City Hall in Cambridge:

Yay City Hall!

So we went inside and found room 103 for the City Clerk.  We knew that’s where we were supposed to go because it says so on this Domestic Partnership FAQ.

Now, I know what you’re wondering: What does it mean to be a domestic partner? How are you qualified to be a domestic partner?

Well, dear reader, I will tell you.  First, you must be domestic, a la cleaning the apartment, walking the dog, making lunch and packing it in a paper bag for your partner, who is someone you love and support and is your partner in life. Duh.

No, but actually it’s not that far off.  Here is what the fact sheet says about what a domestic partner is:

To be domestic partners, you and your partner must reside together … in a relationship of mutual support, caring and commitment, be 18 or over, and consider yourselves to be a family. Neither of you can be married to anyone, and neither of you can have a different domestic partner … You cannot be related to your partner [in any] relationship that would bar marriage.

“Reside together” means living together in a common household. A partner may be temporarily absent from the common household, so long as she or he has the intent to return. A partner may own or maintain an additional residence.

“Mutual Support” means that the domestic partners each contribute in some fashion, not necessarily equally or financially, to the maintenance and support of the domestic partnership.

So, somehow we should consider somewhere home, even if we don’t both own it or live there, and even if we live somewhere else.  We should be in what is considered a “relationship.”  And we should have $25 to give to the city clerk.  What does this get us? “A Certificate of Domestic Partnership and two wallet-sized cards indicating the existence of the partnership, [and] the names of the domestic partners.”

Besides that, we get some “access rights” that spouses get, like hospital and correctional facilities visitation.  This works out great with my plan to land in jail soon!  No, but really, the hospital stuff can be important, and, most importantly, my insurance allows me to add Turtle to my plan if we’re domestic partners.

The interesting thing that happened came after I posted this picture on Facebook soon after we got home.  After all, it was exciting: our relationship is now legally recognized, even if the only thing we have to do to dissolve it is sign one piece of paper.  I should note that, along with the picture, I wrote, “We’re official! Officially able to share health insurance…” (note: health insurance was the whole reason we decided to do this!)

People started to ask me if we’d gotten married.  Several people said congratulations on our marriage.  And while it’s really sweet that people noticed and remembered, I was definitely struck by this, and I guess I’m still trying to articulate why for myself.

I think that I’m upset because so many people equate domestic partnership and marriage, and it is not the same thing at all. Not at all.

In my search for the other town in which you can register a DP, I found this sweet summary:

There are hundreds of laws that are triggered by legal marriage. In most locations, Domestic Partner Registrations prompts very few benefits, if any, and outside of that jurisdiction, they are legally entirely worthless.

The most a registration generally does is to allow you access if your partner is in prison or in a hospital. Usually they don’t even allow you to make medical decisions, should your partner be incapacitated… Domestic partnership registrations are nothing whatever like legal marriage. And unlike legal marriage, they have such little history that their legal status is uncertain.

So, we live in Massachusetts.  We can legally marry in Massachusetts (don’t get me started on filing taxes).  We plan to legally marry in MA in just over 200 days.  This is not the same as a domestic partnership.

I think that part of what is frustrating is how other people just accept that this is what we get, that this is what we do, that this is equivalent to marriage.  Besides that, every straight couple that I have suggested domestic partnership to, for heath insurance reasons or visitation reasons, or whatever it is – because it is available regardless of gender – seems uninterested.  “No, we’ll just get married,” or “No, we’re not ready for the commitment” are some of the answers I’ve heard.  Is it strange that these strike me as very privileged responses?

I’m having a hard time articulating my frustration.  Does anyone have input?  Has anyone had a similar response?  Is everyone really, really happy for me that I was able to become a domestic partner?

We’re happy because at least in our state, we will have some legal protections.

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Not marital…

… but we’re about to leave to be officially domestically partnered! It’s a big deal, but not a big deal. Obviously.

Yay sharing health insurance! Details to follow, maybe.

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