'Til Death Do Us Part...
The battle for a statewide domestic-partnership registry isn’t just a policy fight. It’s personal.
Published: April 9, 2013
In September 2007, I suggested that Alan and I get “married,” or at least as married as we legally could under Florida law. There was too much up in the air at that point, between his family (to whom I was a nobody), the coming Amendment 2 debate and his health. He balked a bit at first, but eventually cottoned to the idea.
There were tense discussions about whether I was going to leave him and whether this was a sort of pre-nuptial arrangement, but little talk about what it would all mean with regard to his family’s business should he pass away. I never even thought about it. After meeting with an attorney, we settled on downloading the forms and having them executed by a legal friend. There was the will (which left everything to me and him, respectively), the living will, power of attorney, health care power of attorney, the pre-need declaration of guardian, and a partnership that stated that, in the event of a breakup, we would each get half of the property we were currently sharing.
We were contractually bound.
By 2011, Alan had taken a turn for the worse. Advanced disease and mental-health issues were clearly colliding. I attempted to police his behavior, which now included surreptitious drinking and, on occasion, disappearing. At one point, he fired a gun in the house while threatening suicide, shooting a hole in the kitchen floor. He immediately apologized and tried to smooth things over. We went on a trip to London, one we had wanted to take for a decade, and while we were there, he disappeared into the night, turning up beaten and bruised 12 hours later after being mugged. Our bank accounts were then emptied. He held a gun to his head in his car, and I had him involuntarily committed under the Baker Act. The episodes mounted, with many nights spent pulling him out of gay bars from which he was too inebriated to exit on his own. I broke ranks and reached out to Alan’s brother and mother, and all I got was dead air and disinterest. What, Alan has a boyfriend?
That year, Alan suffered two heart attacks and started monthly visits to the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville. I began seeing a grief therapist who suggested that I might be suffering from post-traumatic stress. She also, after meeting with Alan, awakened me to the fact that he was dying. He loved me, but he was dying.
In a last-ditch effort, Alan tried to settle his accounts, moving all of the cars into my name and taking his name off of our joint bank account. He tried to obtain a lifetime payout from his disability provider so he could pay off the house and transfer it into my name. He wanted what was best for me.
On April 5, 2012, Alan surprised me with what he called an early birthday present: two commitment rings to replace the “wedding” ring that I had lost two years before. “Love” was printed around the band of one, with “I love you” inscribed on the other. In sickness and in health, in good times and in bad.
My 40th birthday would come in May.
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