Trish, as each of you responds to the case study, I am reminded over and over again of the sense of isolation that seemed to be prevalent and pervasive. That is heart-breaking to me. I’m thankful the chaplain stayed with this person until the friends finally arrived.
As a person who got married before it was legal to do so (and again after the fact–we have two anniversaries), I have to say there is a huge impact on having the right to be the legally recognized spouse. Before 2014, this was a very different story, where your only hope was to have all the legal documents in place that you possibly could, and either have a decent / positive relationship with parents and family, or somehow manage for them not to interfere. It was a scary time.
Obviously, marriage hasn’t fixed all that. But it has made us “legal” in some very important ways. I think I’ve already said this before, but as an aside, as a person of minority sexual orientation, I wasn’t all that impressed with the traditional institution of marriage. I did it for the legal protections, and because it was important to my partner. But I try to keep my empathy strong for couples (straight, gay, or otherwise) who choose not to marry but maintain strong commitments to each other. Marriage is not, should not, be the litmus test for whether two people are truly devoted to each other.