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As I’m sure many of you are aware, the New York Senate recently rejected a bill that would make it legal for same-sex couples to wed in the state. Although in New York same-sex couples who have gotten married in a state where their marriage is legal can retain the full rights afforded them by their married status, somehow it’s still a little too far to go to start processing these weddings

This is problematic for a number of reasons, of course. First, because rights have nothing to do with how much we approve of someone’s marriage. We might think that someone’s new husband is a jerk or that the age difference between a couple is shocking: that doesn’t preclude them from getting married. The fact that many people disapprove of homosexuality, bisexuality, etc is, while unfortunate, in no way a legitimate reason to be denying two citizens the same rights that any other two citizens in the same situation would have.

The fact that New York allows citizens to marry out of state and attain these rights only makes this situation more complicated. What about people who can’t afford cars or insurance? Or who (like me) can’t drive for whatever reason? Not to mention the time it would take to take time off work – beyond just the already-expensive wedding itself – to go not just down the street, but to another state, to get married. Suddenly an assortment of other issues come in, including class and ability. New York has just said, “If you have the time, the money, and the ability, we’ll reward you with the same rights as everyone else. If not…oh well.”

And to top it all off, they haven’t even asked the populous – this was a Senate decision, made by (largely) privileged legislators, not the citizens of New York.

Where am I? What got me thinking about this in the first place, and what I actually want to talk about a little bit, is this – adorable – entry from Offbeat Bride: Pre-Surgery Shotgun Wedding. A woman and her fiancee in Pittsburgh find out that she needs major surgery for a health condition and scrap their plan to wait a year before getting married: they throw together a wedding in the courthouse for under $150. The whole thing made me tear up: as the bride in the story puts it, “it’s a rare man who proposes knowing that he’ll be spending his honeymoon sleeping next to a hospital bed”. It recalled stories of those who get married before going to war: an affirmation of love knowing that anything could happen and committing to be there for the long haul.

As I got to the end of the story, I thought about myself and my partner of six+ years, who have been engaged for going on three. Neither of us are on health insurance; I’m hugely fortunate in that my parents help me pay for the medicine I need to (sort of) keep my epilepsy under control. Although epilepsy is by no means life-threatening surgery, it still can send me to the hospital (often with severe memory loss), and the ability to be a recognized couple, with all that entails, would be a useful one (if only because I would know my partner would never have to worry about being able to get back to see me should we be apart when something happens).

Although we don’t live in New York state, this decision hammered home the situation. I will never be that woman in Pittsburgh. I will never be able to, without a second thought, ask her “do you want to just get married TODAY?” and go do it after a quick stop to Whole Foods and Target for two bouquets and two dresses. I won’t, because people have decided we don’t deserve that. Even if I drove (which I, of course, can’t) I’d have to plan a day trip to the next state over and hope they had no residency requirement — and even then my marriage wouldn’t, because of DOMA, mean anything at all where I live: it’d just be a nice gesture.

I’m going to leave you with an Irish commercial linked on Twitter by the illustrious Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself on Twitter) that sums up the way I feel about this perfectly.