Tuesday, October 2, 2007


On Tuesday, September 18, I woke up early, showered, and packed my bag for a day of travel. My partnered dropped me off at the New Carrollton train station, and I headed to New York for meetings for work. She drove back to Riverdale for her dentist appointment and then was off to work in Baltimore. It was a typical day.

I responded to all of my email on the train, took the subway to the office in New York, sat in meetings, ate the bagged lunch I had carried with me. Mid-morning an email arrived from Equality Maryland announcing the news that the Maryland Court of Appeals issued their decision in the Conaway v. Deane case—and it wasn’t in our favor.

The court ruled that gay and lesbian couples were not unfairly excluded from the marriage in Maryland or in their words, “the State’s legitimate interests in fostering procreation and encouraging the traditional family structure in which children are born” means that the State can excluded gay and lesbian couples from marriage. I didn’t have time that day to think about it.

My partner and I (and I confess, I often call her my wife and she reciprocates even though there is no legal basis for such an assertion) have been together for eleven years, yet with the exception of the mortgage that binds us both to payment and a stack of documents that are somewhere in our office (I’d be hard pressed to put my hands on them in under five minutes), we are strangers in the eyes of our government. We were hoping, perhaps foolishly that that would change. On Tuesday, we learned that it didn’t. At least for now.

At 7 p.m. Tuesday night, I was tuckered out from my day and still had to meet a friend on the Upper West Side. We had agreed to purchase her used car as she prepares to move to London (where gay and lesbian relationships are recognized), and I was driving it home. It was exciting to get the new-to-us car, but as I exited the Lincoln Tunnel, I knew I had to go south, but I fantasized about going north.

New Jersey recently ruled that gay and lesbian couples would be recognized through civil unions. I wondered, driving along the turnpike if perhaps we should move there. I knew if we headed farther north, a metaphoric and literal migration in the United States as people seek rights and equal treatment under the law, we would be recognized. The entirety of New England is now a safe haven for gay and lesbian couples. Marriage in Massachusetts; civil unions in Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. Only one mid-Atlantic government would recognize our relationship: the District of Columbia, and four western states: Hawaii, California, Oregon and Washington. The south and the Midwest, from where we originally hale, are like Maryland all blind to our relationship.

I kept driving south and even felt sad leaving New Jersey, knowing that I was leaving one of the safe zones for gay and lesbian couples. Still, I was glad to get home just after midnight.

We love our life in Maryland. Our home, our community, our jobs. The reality is though, as we grow older when concerns about relationship recognition in light of health care, disability, and death become uppermost on our mind, we may have to move. If we had children, we would definitely want to be in a state that recognized our relationship. And as more and more states recognize gay and lesbian relationships in a variety of ways, my wife and I will want to live in a state – and a country – where we are accorded equal rights under the law.

If Maryland isn’t a state that will do that, we’ll take the future calls about employment elsewhere seriously. The drive north on I-95 is pleasant and will be even more so if it leads to a state of equality for us as a lesbian couple.

Julie R. Enszer is a writer and poet who lives in University Park, MD. You can read more of her work, including her blog, at www.JulieREnszer.com.

This is column #12 dated October 2, 2007 in the series, CIVILesbianIZATION.

Word Count: 667

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