Love Unites Us

For some, the fight for marriage equality is critical.


Published:

There are some members of the LGBT community who think that the fight for marriage equality is not our number one cause. In fact, it’s nothing but a romantic distraction from more pressing issues. But what might those issues be? And what issue is more important than life and love on our community’s hierarchy of needs?

            To find out, look no further than a handful of lesbian couples in the State of Indiana whose lives could be immeasurably improved by the protections afforded by marriage equality. Lambda Legal recently asked a federal court to order Indiana to recognize the marriage of a lesbian couple in Munster—and for good reason. Amy Sandler and Niki Quasney and their two children are suffering under Indiana’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples. Their mother, Ms. Quasney, was diagnosed with stage IV cancer and cannot wait any longer for the protections of marriage.

            “Every day that Indiana denies Amy, Niki and their two children the protections of marriage is cruel and discriminatory against a family whose time together is precious,” says Paul Castillo, Staff Attorney for Lambda Legal. “This family shouldn’t have to endure discrimination from the State of Indiana while fighting to enjoy the time they have left together as a family dealing with a terminal illness.”

            The truth for our community, as for all communities, is that we will age, and we will need those around us who love us, and those who we in turn love, such as partners and children, will depend on us. The burden of that responsibility becomes so much more acute under the threat of accident or illness. It’s a concept that healthy single folks, still in the blush of youth and blissfully free of medical or financial crisis, may fail to face.

            Quasney and Sandler have been in a loving and committed relationship for 13 years, and they have two children under the age of three. Quasney was diagnosed in 2009 with ovarian cancer, and had more than 100 tumors removed in surgery days later. Two additional surgeries and aggressive chemotherapy treatment followed. Unfortunately, the civil union in Illinois and the marriage ceremony in Massachusetts in 2013 are not legally recognized in Indiana, which means that they are ineligible to receive the protections and security that every other married family in Indiana receives.

            For those without partners and family, who live only for themselves and have no dependents, and likely have not visited a hospital since their own birth, this sad state of affairs means that this loving lesbian family will effectively be persecuted: federal and state safety nets for surviving spouses and their children, available to married heterosexuals, are denied the Quasney-Sandler household—simply because their lesbian union is not recognized by their home state. Even the right to a death certificate that accurately reflects their marriage will be denied.

            Thankfully, while some in our community are “over” the push for marriage equality, Lambda Legal is diligently pursuing equal rights on behalf of those who claim to not need them. The case, Baskin v. Bogan, was filed by on March 10th in the United States District Court in the Southern District of Indiana. On March 31 Lambda Legal added Amy Sandler and Niki Quasney of Munster Indiana to their filings.

            If you don’t believe in gay marriage, goes the saying doing the rounds on facebook, don’t get gay married. But for Quasney and Sandler, who do wish to spend the rest of their lives together, the movement for marriage equality should not stall. Neither should it be discounted for Esther Fuller and Rae Baskin who have been together for nearly 24 years and wish to marry because as the couple faces their 70s (Esther had breast cancer in 2008 and broke her hip in 2009), they wish for the protection and security afforded to straight couples. The case is similar for Lyn Judkins and Bonnie Everly, approaching 60, who were struck by a drunk driver and now both suffer from mobility related disabilities. “Lyn is what keeps me going. I want to make her my wife because I’ve never had that feeling for anyone else. I want to make my life complete by putting a ring on her finger knowing it will be there forever,” says Bonnie.

            “I will forever be grateful for every moment I and our kids have with Niki,” says Amy Sandler. “The need for our marriage to be recognized so that we can safeguard our family has become incredibly urgent for all of us.”

lambdalegal.org

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