The video that started it all for me
Legal Thoughts on Prop 8:
This is what I mean when I say we're close minded
My family is real
I was adopted by a married man and woman when I was three months old. When I was 4 or 5, the man moved out. When I was six, a woman moved in. That woman was, in function, my step-mom. A second parent. The person who drove me home from afterschool sports, who taught me to ride my bike, who taught me to waterski, who took me to Europe when I was a teenager, and showed me my first white Christmas. She taught me to parallel park. She taught me how to get along with my other mom, at times that my teenage self was otherwise being difficult.
My mom and my stepmom could not get married, legally. So they didn't, and my relationship with her, and their relationship with each other was not legally recognized.
They were together for more than 30 years.
On Christmas day, 2000, my stepmom went to the emergency room with abdominal pain and swelling. They lied, and said that they were sisters, so that my mom could be with her in the hospital, outside of visiting hours. They had to make up a relationship so that my mom would be allowed to make decisions while my stepmom couldn't. They found that my stepmom had stage III ovarian cancer, which had spread to her uterus and her colon. They did surgery to remove the cancer, removing her ovaries, uterus, and parts of her GI tract, and gave her a colostomy bag.
I flew in to town and pretended that the woman who taught me how to do yard work, taught me to throw a ball, taught me to ski was my aunt. Someone who held my hand while I cried at a play. And who our law said wasn't my "real mom"-- that title got reserved for someone who walked out when I was an infant, but that I was still inherit from if she'd died in Louisiana without a will. She was 87 pounds, lying in that hospital bed, and when I saw her, I had a strong, visceral response and feared that she'd die of this disease. I fainted and hit my head on my way down, which caused *me* to go to the ER as well.
Over the next year, I visited about 4 times-- my real aunt, my stepmom's nephew and I each visited, so that my mom and stepmom would have someone else there for the difficult period that followed each treatment of chemotherapy. Because my mom and stepmom were not legally related, because same-sex marriage was not legal, my mom was not legally entitled to any sort of time off from work to care for her spouse of nearly 30 years.
December 25, 2001, she was hospitalized again, with a recurrence of ovarian cancer.
I flew into town, and joined her in the hospital for her birthday. She had more surgery for cancer, and got a G-tube installed. I took her home from the hospital and took care of her. I'd planned to visit over MLK weekend, and so was going to fly back that Monday, but she asked me if I would stay. I did, and on that day, I drove her to the emergency room to be treated for dehydration. While in the hospital, I helped her to register for hospice care, because she wanted to die at home. For the first time in this ordeal, she told the hospice intake worker what her relationship with my mom really is.
I stayed in New Orleans until she died, on February 11, 2002. I cleaned up her vomit, I managed her medications, I emptied her mostly-digested food from her G-tube after the cancer blocked her intestines. I rubbed anti-nausea medications on her arms. I put morphine-derivative patches on her chest. I held her when she cried. I sang to her, prayed with her, and helped soothe her when she was having hallucinations. I handled all the phone calls, and depending on who it was, I pretended to be her niece or said I was her stepdaughter. I stayed there for over a month. While my mom went to work. I cared for my stepmom as she died.
I was there when she took her last breath. I called the coroners office and the hospice, in order to come take her body. The coroner's office sent a police officer to collect the body, and to confirm that this was an expected death and no suspicious circumstances. I told him that I was basically her step-daughter. He could see that was who I was, and that that was the best and easiest answer to put on the form. If the body were surrendered by someone who was not a family member, it would require more paperwork and hoops to jump through.
My family is real.
That love is real, that commitment is real, the caring for each other and taking care of each other is real. There is nothing that "family" means that my family didn't do.
Tomorrow, the US citizens of California will be deciding if my family is real. If we deserve to have the same rights as every other family. To be recognized.
The side who is saying "No, that is not really a family" is saying that we need to think of the children, protect children, protect marriage.
I say, protect me.
My family is real.