Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Well Thump My Melon!

My latest craving is WATERMELON! You would think this would be an easy craving to fill. We live just a few miles west of a small town that is self proclaimed as "The Watermelon Capitol of the World"! They have an annual parade, festival and wait for it....a Watermelon Queen! D's mother was actually the Watermelon Queen one year in the 1960's. That's right folks, I married into royalty! Before you laugh too hard, you should know this watermelon festival & queen business is some serious $#^t down here! The entire town shuts down for the weekend. The queens come back for the big parade and their adoring fans every year. Oops, I ventured off on a ramble while thinking of those glittering queens!  Anyhoo, I'm not sure if my picker is off or what, but I've now bought and tossed 3 watermelons. I've brought home an over-ripe one and 2 not ripe enough. I am on a mission to find a sweet, juicy, perfectly ripe watermelon ASAP.
I'm so desperate to figure out what I'm doing wrong, I did what any modern day, watermelon-craving, preggo would do... I googled how to pick the perfect watermelon! I liked this advice best. It's a 1-2-3 to a perfect melon and it does NOT include the thumping method (which has failed me 3 times now)
Now that I have my 1-2-3, I think a drive to the Watermelon Capitol of the World is in order!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Challenges for Our Unique Family

I'm sharing some of the challenges & realities our family faces due to the fact that we are a same sex couple. I do so, not to gain sympathy, but because when we talk about these issues with family or friends (especially those outside the state of Oklahoma) they are surprised and sometimes even in disbelief. So, I figure, many of you don't realize the challenges involved and maybe, just maybe, if you are surpised or in disbelief you will speak up when it comes to equal rights for ALL in this country. Even if you just speak up to a gay/lesbian couple, to let them know you support them, it's a start.
Some things we as a family have already faced and some things to ponder:

1. When we used the services of a Reproductive Specialist we broke the law. It is illegal in Oklahoma for a same sex couple to seek help to have a child. Our Dr. informed us of this and then said, he didn't care about the law, he was in the business of helping families. He told us he's been happily breaking the law for almost 30 years and he's helped create countless beautiful families!

2. As a spouse, I cannot be covered by D's insurance and neither can our children. This would save us apx. $400 a month in premiums alone & her insurance has better coverage than mine. It would cover the entire pregnancy with no out of pocket costs because it would be secondary insurance for me.

3. We could lose our jobs (although unlikely) for being a same sex couple. There are workplace anti-discrimination laws for many classes, but not for sexual orientation. Oklahoma is also a "fire at will" state. Again, not likely, but in Oklahoma not impossible either.

4. She cannot have her name on the birth certificate and has no legal rights to our children. Some of the more progressive states now have "second parent adoption", where both parents are listed on the birth certificate and have equal legal rights, this is not an option in Oklahoma. Even if I carried D's biological child (her egg) she would have no legal rights in Oklahoma. We've met with an attorney about this and have set up paperwork so that if I died or were incapacitated a judge would have to consider my request that D become guardian, HOWEVER; the judge does not have to grant this request. We've also done the paperwork for Health Care Proxy and an Advance Directive & Living Will in the event that something happened that we could make major healthcare decisions for one another.  We hope the court would abide by our wishes, but in Oklahoma they are not obligated to do so. This paperwork is all we have though in hopes that it will speak to an open minded judge if needed. NONE of this paperwork would be necessary for a heterosexual couple; and although not technically legally binding, still we are paying the thousands of $$$$ to have it drafted and filed.  It's the only thing we can do to protect our family.

5. We are married, legally in Massachusetts, however; must file & pay taxes as "single" which basically means we pay a whole lot more and get zero tax breaks. Even though we have joint checking, joint investments and own a home & vehicles together. Everything we have is joint...including our last name.  We'll also have to pay taxes on any money the other leaves through retirement funds. Heterosexual couples do not. We work and live just like most married couples and yet get no benefits for doing so. *and folks wonder why we aren't satisfied with "civil unions" or "domestic partnerships". The tax reasons alone should explain why we deserve full marriage rights.

6. There is a real possiblity that D will not be granted time off work for the birth of our children. Her leave has to be approved and so far has not. After 23yrs with this company, she has several weeks of annual & sick leave built up, but can't use sick leave or even unpaid FMLA leave because "legally" it is not the birth of her child, biological, adopted or otherwise. *What's extremely upsetting to me is that men at her workplace are regularly granted such leave to be with their "Baby Momma" when she gives birth and even a week or longer afterward. They don't have to prove a biological connection or produce adoption papers to use their leave.  We are a married couple who planned this family!

Okay, before I go off too far on a rant, I'll close. Long post, but these are just a few of the issues we face. There are many more, not so much legal, but social and even psychological challenges, doubts and fears all due to the uniqueness of our little family. I'll be posting about those in the future, but for now ponder what I've shared, consider being in this situation yourself and if you find it bothersome or unjust, speak up when an opportunity presents itself. Because being on this side of the issue in Oklahoma, well, sometimes the silence can be deafening.