For me, our wedding has never been about one perfect day. Don't get me wrong, I love shopping for a fabulous dress, crafting fun doodads, and throwing an awesome party. But as I mentioned in a previous post, I think of our wedding as one special day in a continuing process of love, partnership, and negotiation.
BUT that's not to say that nothing will change on our wedding day. Because when Mr. HC and I marry, we almost instantaneously get all of the privileges and immunities that come with a legally recognized marriage. These benefits include:
- Estate planning benefits, including the ability to make financial and/or medical decision on my spouse's behalf as a conservator and to get the various protections under probate law that are reserved for spouses.
- Tax benefits, including the ability to file joint tax income returns.
- Government benefits, including the ability to receive Social Security, Medicare, and disability benefits in our spouse's name.
- Employment benefits, including the ability to take family leave to care for each other during an illness and to obtain insurance benefits through each other's employer.
- Misc. legal benefits, including the ability to claim spousal privilege.
In fact, according to a 2004 Government Accounting Office report, there are over 1000 laws in which marital status is a factor -- and that's just in the federal law alone (imagine how many more state regulations deal with marriage)!
As we plan our wedding, I never lose sight of the fact that Mr. HC (who is white) and I (who am Chinese) couldn't have gotten married in a number of states before 1967. Nor do I forget that my aunt and her partner can only be legally married in three states, and that even if they were to wed in one of those states, their marriage would still not be recognized by the federal government because of Defense of Marriage Act. Unfortunately, neither Obama/Biden nor McCain/Palin support legalization of same-sex marriage. Still, tomorrow's election will still have important ramifications for equal access to marriage, especially for those with the opportunity to help defeat Prop. 8 in my home state of California.
If I had it my way, the state would get out of the marriage business entirely, and all of the above benefits would be disentangled from the status of marriage. But until the day that happens, there is no doubt in my mind that marriage is political. The state is the third partner in every marriage. Which is one of the many reasons why I'll be in line bright and early at the polling station tomorrow and going home immediately after our engagement photo session to obsess over the poll results.
I'll be back to blogging about bridesmaid dresses and haute bargains in my next post. Today, though, I beg you to VOTE VOTE VOTE tomorrow.
I'm Hot Cocoa, and I endorse this message.