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  • As I sit to write this today the Supreme Court is hearing arguments to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act. They will, by all reports , likely do this and it will be a historic milestone for all American citizens.

    I am reminded of my own marriage here, one of true unconvention . It illuminates the rights of legal marriage and what constitutes the rights of the spouse.

    Mark and I married after 10 years together, after a mandate from our CPA who insisted we marry , benefit from the tax breaks for married couples, benefit from spousal rights should one of us pre decease the other. This marriage would protect our property, alleviate inheritance taxes and insure what we have both worked hard to create and maintain remain intact with both the intention and commitment we entered into.
    When we homesteaded our land, built our home, planted our garden, bought the restaurant, bought other property, worked hard in harmony, mutual respect and agreement to build a life together, we were not married.
    I had been married very young previously, and it had left a negative feeling in me and Mark never wanted to marry either.

    We did indeed love one another and were very entangled, dog parents, happily building our life, so In the winter of 1997 we finally gave in.

    Following that, as I think back on it, marrying was probably not the best thing for us emotionally. It seemed to confine him in ways that were mystical and perhaps even existential. We became troubled and distant. We were unable to reconcile our differences. We separated in 2003, somewhat amicably though both of us were in deep pain and disappointment. We had begun divorce proceedings when I was diagnosed with breast cancer and the outcome at that point was uncertain. Although the prognosis was good, I was at a high risk of recurrence and so, we decided to shelve the divorce, you know, just in case. This would insure that should I not make it, Mark would be able to inherit all that we had created together and worked hard for, without a huge tax burden. He would be able to make decisions for my care and end of life requests. He would be protected by this contract should my battle fail. Thankfully that did not happen.

    But,

    here we are, 10 years later. This year we mark 25 years together.

    Sadly, I was unable to bear children and so the fate of our land remains between us which I believe was and is the watermark for us both to redefine what our marriage means, as partners and family.

    Today, as I write this, I remain cancer free, Mark has moved on to another relationship. We both live separately on our land and over these 10 years have morphed and cultivated our ‘marriage’, rearranged if you will, this contract we made into a deep and abiding friendship. We are no longer lovers, nor have we been since the day he moved out, but there is no lack of love in our relationship and so our ‘marriage’ is really more about a deep commitment to this unconventional family we have created, our devotion to this land we share, the stewardship of these trees, this watershed, this deep ecology. This ecology of love, not taking the conventional form, but that of an evolution of trust, faith, family and acceptance. Forgiveness.
    What began as what seemed to be a financial agreement, a protection of joint assets, a practical grown up contract, ironically now has become this complex journey of constantly re defining our love and relationship. Loyalty and family. Constancy and change. Friendship. Neither of us ever imagined we would be this now.

    I have same sex couple friends who are far more conventional than Mark and me. They share children, sleep in the same bed, go to soccer games and Little League, some actually do have a white picket fence and a SUV with the baby seat in back.
    I am going to hope that the DOMA act will be overturned and that marriage will be available to all of us, in whatever guise or form it needs to be. Marriage is complicated and the structure is changing as we all become more open and tolerant, accepting and generous of all the ways in which we choose to make family.

    It should be that this marriage business is about love, and devotion after all.
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