Last night my good friend and neighbor Lesly died. She had been diagnosed with cancer in the fall of 2009 and lived the ups and horrible downs of life with cancer ever since. There is a huge hole in the world this morning with Lesly's departure. She was a smart, creative, caring, and fun person. She leaves a beautiful family mourning her death. Her presence in the community was quiet, helpful, and always accompanied by good wishes. She was a highly valued employee of FedEx and the customers along her route cheered every time she returned to work after facing yet another round of chemo. We will miss her.
Lesly was the parent of two children. Her insurance with FedEx paid for not only her medical care but that of her children. She accrued retirement benefits and those should be useful for her family, right? "Should be" - operative words. Lesly was not married. In fact, Lesly was legally not allowed to marry her life partner. Even though Stacey and Lesly were committed to each other for 27 years and had two now teenaged children together, they could not legally marry. A very practical outcome of this situation is that Stacey cannot access Lesly's retirement account. It died along with Lesly. Social Security benefits died with Lesly too. That enrages me.
I am married and have two children. If my husband dies, I am entitled to his retirement and SS benefits. Stacey and Lesly would have been married if the love they had for each other was recognized by the state of California. Stacey, Clare, and Ian would have at least had some kind of financial security if that marriage had been recognized. I understand that some people hold onto a belief that marriage is a union only between a man and a woman. Explain to me, please, how Stacey and Lesly's union cannot be recognized as the marriage that it was. Certainly people are entitled to their own beliefs and, trite as it sounds, if you don't support gay marriage then simply don't choose that option for yourself. But it is wrong to deny benefits to couples like Stacey and Lesly simply because your religious beliefs stand in the way of such a union for you.