Ten years ago this October, my spouse and I were legally married in California. At the time, I was legally recognized as a man and we received all the benefits of being a married couple. Six years ago, we moved to Arizona and I began working for my employer. Both my employer and the insurance companies that provide our benefits recognized us as a legally married couple because, at the time, I was recognized as a man and she a woman. They covered our children because they recognized them as my dependents.
Nothing to see here, right?
Two and a half years ago, I began transitioning from male to female and, after a lot of soul searching, my spouse stayed with me.
A year ago, I began living as a woman full time. I legally changed my name and my employer, a high school district here in Phoenix, was progressive enough to accept my change with just about no problem. What they did not do was change my gender in their system. As far as they were concerned, I was not legally female until I had GRS. It didn't really matter all that much to me.
Five weeks ago, I had my surgery. I informed my employer that I had undergone this corrective procedure and they set about changing my gender in their system. They made no changes to my status as a married person, still recognizing my spouse as my spouse in their system.
Yesterday I received a call from my benefits person. She informed me that our dental carrier, TDA, is saying they will no longer insure my spouse because even though they have been doing so for the last six years, because my gender status has changed, ours is now, to them, a domestic partnership. She said that at this point, our health insurance provider has not said anything, but I am waiting for that shoe to drop. I asked her to contest the issue with them. My employer should be able to tell the provider who to cover and I am willing to fight this out in court, to have a judge tell me I am no longer legally married to the person I have spent the last decade with.
The fact is, we live in Arizona which has legally defined marriage as being between a man and a woman and even though they once recognized us as a married couple, they may no longer do so because we no longer fit their definition of what married means. We did and do all the things they want married couples to do, such as procreate and provide a stable home for our children. After all, the whole marriage law issue was to protect families, yes? But they no longer want to protect my family because it is not the right kind of family.
The fact is, even if California still recognizes us as married, it does not matter in any of the states that have laws against marriage equality because of DOMA.
The fact is that we will still remain married despite what anyone tells us because we are a family. We may end up moving to a state that does not wish to redefine our marriage because we do not fit their definitions. But no one can remove the rings from our fingers without our say so and we refuse to downgrade our relationship because they don't like that I'm now a woman married to a woman.
So if you wonder why the issue of marriage equality is so important, understand that we, along with so many couples who have never been married because of legal restrictions, are families that need to be protected from people who want to deny us the right to be so.
2:38 PM PT: The Rec List? Thank you very much and thank you for all the comments of support and advice. I do appreciate them.