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My partner and I were recently Skyping with his dad and his stepmom, who previously lived in southern Missouri. They're good, fairly average Southern folks who are closing in on retirement. She's a contractor for the military and he was a small-holdings farmer before he retired and they moved to southern Alabama. Politically they come across on the conservative side of the middle.

As my partner's step-mom will tell you, "We had our time as holy rollers" -- they did not attend the commitment ceremony when my partner married his first husband 20 years ago, and they made it clear why they would not attend.

Over the years, their views on the matter have softened and changed, and the result was this conversation, which shocked us off our chairs.

My partner's step-mom (we'll call her Lou) was talking about a gay couple in Mobile. Lou is friends with one of their parents. The couple had been together a couple of decades, had a floral business together and a couple of homes. The man whose mother Lou knows has a friendly relationship with his own family; his partner's family has not been receptive or loving in their treatment of these men.

Unfortunately, one of the couple died recently - the one whose family disapproves. And Lou recounted to us with utter horror how his family came in and took over the business, took one of the homes, essentially robbed the other partner of his livelihood and of all that he had left of the man to whom he was committed in love and life.

Alabama has an amendment somewhat similar to North Carolina's recent Amendment One. It states:

(g) A union replicating marriage of or between persons of the same sex in the State of Alabama or in any other jurisdiction shall be considered and treated in all respects as having no legal force or effect in this state and shall not be recognized by this state as a marriage or other union replicating marriage.
When one can't even "replicate" marriage - through contracts, powers of attorney, et cetera, to protect one's family and property in the event of disaster, things like this can easily happen - there's no way to legally get the state to recognize that your partner is your rightful caretaker and heir.

Lou thought this was reprehensible and un-Christian. She was just stunned that these people could come in and take everything because Alabama law didn't recognize them as one another's closest kin.

And then she went and said it.

"If only they'd been able to get married."

What?

"None of this would have happened if they had just been able to get married. I'm so disgusted by this."

My partner and I looked at one another in disbelief. This, from someone who was an admitted "holy roller" and who once refused to legitimize a commitment ceremony by attending.

They may be trying to ban evolution again next door in Tennessee, but it's happening in Alabama. We're ecstatic. Change happens, one family at a time.

Originally posted to ElsieElsie on Fri May 11, 2012 at 12:04 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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