Living here in Massachusetts where same-sex marriage is legal, I’ve experienced first-hand how being able to answer “I’m her wife” to the question “What’s your relationship to the patient?” immediately puts to rest healthcare providers’ questions and concerns about my right to be informed and make decisions for my wife. And for us, this isn’t just theory; we’ve been unfortunate enough recently to have had to answer this question in three different emergency rooms and during a hospital stay.
If we were still living in Washington state, we wouldn’t have this certainty, despite what the state’s domestic partnership law supposedly guarantees. In a crisis, separate turns out to not be reliably equal. “Domestic partner” is not, in real life, the recognized equivalent of “married spouse”. This is never more apparent than during a medical emergency, when the last thing a family needs is to have their relationship questioned by the very people in whose hands a loved one’s life has been placed.
Angie: Cynthia and I thought our domestic partnership would guarantee that we would be there for one another.
Cynthia: If God forbid one of us was seriously ill.
Angie: And then our worst nightmare happened. I was in surgery and there were complications.
Cynthia: The nurse refused to tell me what was happening and how serious things had gotten.
Angie: Just because we weren’t married.
Cynthia: Only marriage guarantees that all couples can be there for each other when it really matters.
“Angie and Cynthia were already going through a traumatic experience, one that was made much, much worse because the hospital did not recognize their partnership,” WUM campaign manager Zach Silk said in a press release. “Their case clearly shows what all of us know, that only marriage truly protects a couple and their family in times of crisis because it is universally understood and respected. That’s why we’re working so hard in these closing days to talk to every voter we can about the importance of approving Referendum 74 and defending our marriage law which allows same-sex couples to marry.”
All I can say to that is, yep. Washingtonians, approve Referendum 74 on your November ballot so that no loving, committed couple in Washington ever has to face this kind of gut-wrenching denial again.