Back in March, when the American Supreme Court first announced that it would look at the issue of marriage equality for same-sex couples, I wanted to show my support for a positive decision. So I, and thousands of others in many nations, changed our profile pictures to the red Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Equal Sign in our profile on Facebook. (I was involved with HRC when we worked to build our own Arkansas version, Arkansans for Human Rights (AHR)). Now that things have moved along their course and a decision has been handed down (incomplete though it is), that phase of our fight is complete. But HRC has still recommended a method to show support, so I’ve chosen to overlay the HRC symbol on my personal profile picture (which itself was taken in 2012 at the Pride Parade in Toronto).
It is important for me to see marriage equality work through to completion. Internationally, in particular, the current situation is difficult to live with. Fortunately Tim and I have no children, or this would be unbearable. But when we are here at home, in Canada, the two of us are fully married and recognized as such: we have all the rights and responsibilities of any married couple. But as soon as we cross the border into the U.S., our rights vary geographically. Depending on where we are, we can be and will be treated differently. By the time we get to Arkansas, his home and my adopted state, we have become virtual strangers again. We are nothing to each other. It is even worse than if we were Americans: because Americans know they have to deal with this, so they can write up legal declarations to define their spouses hold whatever rights they want in relation to each other. Because we’re married, Tim and I don’t think about that any more… we assume the rights just as any heterosexual couple would. Unfortunately in some jurisdictions (such as our home, which we visit every year) that is not the case. Such is the very definition of discrimination.
Consider, for instance, what would happen if I was in a serious car accident and a coma while in Arkansas. (It’s happened before…?) Or, worse, what would happen if Tim was in a serious car accident and a coma while in Arkansas. I would have no right to be able to affect his treatment as long as he was in the state, and Tim has sufficient relatives in and around Little Rock that they would want to have their input. Most of them don’t even know me; they certainly don’t know we are married. As his husband, I would want to have my say in his treatment; what if they fought me for control in Arkansas court? State law says that I am just a friend, even though we’re legally married in our home country. What would be the result? How would any spouse feel if such rights were taken away from them?
If you would like to add the red “Equality” sign as an overlay to your Facebook picture, you can do so through the HRC Tumblr page.