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Mary M. Wrye

Good morning all,
As I read and ponder your posts, I have thought about discussions I have had with patients and their long time partners about their legal rights to make health care decisions. I have encouraged them to do the paperwork to make things legal. I too live in the “blood relative” state for decision-making unless otherwise designated. I will have to say that many of those conversations have been with opposite sex couples that have been together for YEARS but just never got married. A frequent thing around here.

I think your point, Melanie, of listening to the language is an important one. Early on, I made the mistake of assuming the relationship of folks in the room, so now I just ask “And you are her….?” That gives them room to define the relationship as they see it. And then I understand the language and the relationship.

When I have had patients with a same sex partner/spouse – I treat them as I would any other couple. I have done two same-sex weddings. One at the couple’s house with a small group of friends and family, one in my church with just the couple and legal witnesses present. Interestingly enough the couple that I married in my church were from another state. They wanted to get married but were afraid that “the word would get out” and they just didn’t want to deal with all that. When I asked my pastor and the Deacons about having the wedding in our church – they looked at me like I had three heads. Well yes… why was I even asking! Each deacon said they would be happy to come to the wedding to support this couple and be their witnesses. In the end, the couple just wanted the legal number of witnesses (2) at the wedding so the chair of the deacons said she would be happy to be the needed second legal witness. When I told the couple what the church had said… they cried.

As I stated earlier, our community just passed a “Fairness Ordinance” giving legal rights to the LGBTQ folks regarding dwellings, employment, and public accommodations. The vote was 3 in favor, 2 against. The two against said we “didn’t need” one. One woman who spoke against the Ordinance stated that she didn’t know of anyone who had been discriminated against so there was no need for the Fairness Ordinance. I wanted to ask her if she knew of anyone who had been raped or murdered. Just because she doesn’t know of anyone doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.

I am a white, heterosexual, ordained minister. While the white and straight part gives me privileges others don’t enjoy, I have had my share of “unevenness” as a women clergy. My current salary isn’t what my predecessor was making. I have been told that if men would be the spiritual leaders they are supposed to be then God wouldn’t need “you women”. As a staff person in my first church out of seminary I wasn’t allowed to go to Deacons’ meetings because they were all men (my male colleagues went). I was their “Director” of Education. I guess the point I am making is while I have no idea what it is to be a LGBTQ person – I can see a bit what it is like to be told “you’re not good enough just because God created me this way”. It sucks!

Ok… I think I have crossed the line into rambling so I will stop. More ponderings later.