Wednesday, August 08, 2007

In Sickness or In Health

"I, Brett take thee, Patrick to be my lawfully wedded husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness or in health, to love and to cherish, 'til death do us part."

The recitation of this simple pledge, sanctioned by the state, can make all the difference in the world when the person you love becomes ill. If you have any doubts, simply ask Brett Conrad -- who has spent more than half his life as Patrick Atkins' partner.

The two men were in their 20's when they met at college and fell in love. When Atkins, 47, suffered a serious illness in 2005, their world fell apart. Conrad, 47, has spent much of the past two years fighting for guardianship of Atkins from Atkins parents Thomas and Jeanne.

Jeanne Atkins is quoted in court documents as saying she believes homosexuality is a sin and that she disapproves of the men's relationship. The parents have barred Conrad from visiting their now-disabled son in their home where he lives.

In June, Conrad won visitation rights from the Indiana Court of Appeals, but the court upheld an earlier Hamilton County ruling that left control of Atkins' care to his parents. ( Read the appeals court decision.)

Gay-rights activists say the men's story illustrates the discrimination embedded in Indiana law and underscores why gay marriage should be allowed.

What never ceases to amaze me is how the love these two men have shared for the majority of their lives is a threat to anyone?

According to the case file, Atkins and Conrad met in 1978 while attending Wabash College in Crawfordsville.

Atkins came from a deeply religious family that disapproved of the relationship. In 2000, he begged for acceptance from his family through a letter.

"Trust me," he wrote, "God loves us all so very much, and I know he approves of the love that Brett and I have shared for over 20 years."
Court records indicate that Atkins mother told Conrad that if her son was going to return to life with his partner after recovering from his stroke, she would prefer he "not recover at all." How "Christian" of her.

Reading this I was reminded of the case involving Karen Thompson and Sharon Kowalski. I met Karen in the early 1990's, when she was still battling for custody of Sharon. It seems incredible to me that nearly 20 years later, this is still a problem.

Yes there are legal steps Brett and Patrick could have taken, but at 47 I would image they thought they had all the time in the world.

It's past time to legalize same-sex marriage. For more information on the subject visit the Freedom to Marry web site.

Hat tip to Pam's House Blend.


Karen said...

You said: "What never ceases to amaze me is how the love these two men have shared for the majority of their lives is a threat to anyone?"

It's not thier love, it's their homosexuality.

I think straight people are afraid of discovering that they are a bit homosexual. I mean, nature is not bipolar; everything is on a continuum. How likely is it that Jeanne Atkins happens to fall at the extreme end of the spectrum? She probably feels that if she condemns homosexuality, it will reinforce her heterosexuality...certainly it will in the eyes of her peers.

It's something I've been thinking about for a while. Like I commented on your later post, it would be great if Edwards quit the "white, straight male" club by announcing that he is bisexual. In fact, why don't we all do that? Then they wouldn't know who to persecute...

I assume you've heard the story of the Dutch all wearing yellow Stars of David when the Nazis came in and ordered the Jews to wear them? Same idea.

It wouldn't solve the marriage equality issue directly, but it would be a step in the right direction.

Karen said...

That would be the Danes, not the Dutch. I also say "green" when I mean "orange" sometimes. Go figure.


BAC said...

I do the same thing, Karen. I could be looking at you and call you Judy ... go figure!

I agree with you that "straight people are afraid of discovering that they are a bit homosexual." I think it's why Allen Schindler was beaten beyond recognition by by two of his Navy shipmates, or Matthew Sheppard was tied to a fence and left to die.

It would be wondeful if everyone would come out as bisexual. It would be a step in the right direction.