I saw this over at The Lavender Newswire about the Census Bureau editing out data on same-sex couples. I’m certainly not surprised and I’m not sure just how much I care. Before the GLBT community in hip places like Massachusetts and California started demanding their marriage rights, I figured it would be about 20 years until we had gay marriage in this country. That was 4 years ago so I now estimate it will be another 16 years. Fine with me. I expect to live just long enough to see it, so I can die happy.
What happened, of course, after we achieved our “victories” on the far-flung coasts is that the bigoted folks where I live were so scared and yes, disgusted, that they had no choice but to do the righteous thing and vote for a gay marriage ban. Some 78% of Oklahomans voted for that ban, compared with 56% who voted for Bush. So I guess a lot of Oklahoma Democrats are homophobes. Again, I’m not surprised, but somehow seeing those numbers on the TV screen the day after the election filled me with a mindless rage.
Since then, I’ve made a killing. No, not homicide. About 8 months after the ban, my company forced me to attend a Diversity training. I won’t tell you the company name, but the initials are BCBS. I told my boss that I was gay and if I went to that training session, I would be fired because I would say things that the people there would not take kindly. The diversity training was as lame as I expected it to be, talking mostly about people’s different hobbies and a bit about skin color. I pointed out that even though there was a gay marriage ban, I was still gay and I was still married. The next day I was asked to resign.
I guess I did the wrong thing. I cut a deal and resigned instead of letting them fire me. I really hated that job and I was afraid if I got fired, it would be hard to find another one. As it turned out, I still couldn’t find another one. I knew I could never return to office work, so it took me five months until I found a part-time job repairing vacuum cleaners. In the meantime I was burning through all my IRA savings which I’d been forced to withdraw. Six months later the repair center shut down and I was laid off. I decided to declare bankruptcy, thus writing off $20,000 in credit card debt. It was a great deal of fun!
It took another five months to find a job through a temp agency wiring electrical control systems. I thought I was going to make a fresh start, maybe go back to school and get an Associates Degree in Electronics Technology and work my way back up to my old pay scale. Target sued me for fraud, but there was one little problem. For the last two years, I had a lump growing in my breast. It was actually there before I left my job at the health insurance company, and I had a mammogram and was told it was nothing. I checked Web MD which said most breast lumps are benign and so I didn’t worry about it. But still, it kept growing.
Now, America being what it is, it’s quite possible to work full-time and not have any health insurance. I was working in the factory for two months when one day I discovered a small bump under my armpit. I figured it would take at least another 1-3 months to get hired on permanently, and three more months after that to get health insurance, but now I could no longer wait. I was able to schedule a free mammogram and a $25 biopsy through a local charitable organization. And that’s how I found out I had stage III cancer. This is the best thing that ever happened to me!
Due to my wage of $8.00/hour, poverty level for a family of three, I qualified for Medicaid. It was a simple matter to get Target off my back after that. Plus I got eight rounds of chemo, a bilateral mastectomy, a bunch of pain and sleeping pills, and six weeks of radiation practically for free.
Compare this with what would have happened if I still worked at BCBS. I would have still had all my credit card debt plus I would have been hit with $10,000 in copays, plus I wouldn’t have been able to work very much to pay all this off. I would have been forced to declare bankruptcy anyway.
As it is, I was able to qualify for disability which ended up paying as much as I would have earned working 50 hours a week at the temp job. Plus, I still work there, only about 10 hours a week, but that’s all I want to work right now.
Oh, did I mention that my 15-year-old daughter wanted to spend her junior year in Beijing? We found out she was accepted about a month after I received my cancer diagnosis. The program cost $38,000. She received $37,000 in financial aid. She’s already gone and come back now, and she had a great 9 months.
The trip to Beijing and all the medical care I’ve received would not be possible if I was actually married to my partner. But as long as the possiblity for us to be legally tied together does not exist, I certainly don’t feel any need to declare her income.
Even if they made gay marriage legal in Oklahoma tomorrow, I would not tie the knot. My kids are both bright and get good grades, and I’m planning on sending them to expensive private colleges, tuition-free, of course.
In the meantime, I do feel bad about some of the stress I’ve put my partner through these last few years. We’ve been together over eight years now, and our relationship has only grown stronger. So it’s fine with me if the Census Bureau wants to edit out same-sex data. I’m still gay and I’m still married, and I know we’ll get ours in time.