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    I 'married' my husband three times.  In March 2004, Multnomah County began issuing same-sex marriage licenses, and we were married on the Portland courthouse steps.  Less than three weeks later, the county stopped issuing licenses, and, in April 2005, after a year-long legal battle, our marriage, along with those of all other same-sex couples married during that brief period, was ruled 'void from inception'.  

    We redid our vows that same year at the Multnomah County Clerk's office and were given another certificate which said “Domestic Partnership”.  When “Registered Domestic Partnerships” were made available in 2008, we went through the process again at the Polk County courthouse. After that we had three beautiful licenses framed and hanging with pride on our living room wall, and I had a sense of security about the recognition of our relationship.  The new law was very clear: Domestic Partnerships were to be treated exactly the same as marriage.

    I believed that, until the 'divorce'.

    I met "John" in 1984, nearly three decades ago, when I returned to Alaska from Hawaii. I visited my old friend Douglas, who was with his roommate. The following afternoon I showed up at their door. "John" said, “Douglas isn't here.” I replied, “Yes, I know - I came to see you.” After sharing an apartment for a while, Douglas and "John" bought a condo together.  His boxes arrived, but other than picking out colors, Douglas never made it into the condo.

    Douglas Olsen was Alaska's first death from AIDS. "John" and I helped design his panel on the AIDS quilt (although we didn't actually sew it).  After Douglas died, "John" asked me to move in – around Christmas 1984 I did, and we've been together ever since...  until November 2011.

    During those years in the 1980s and 1990s we both led busy, exciting lives.  We owned several homes together, each one redone to the highest homosexual standards and each one worth twice what it was when we bought it.  We were actively involved in fighting for civil rights and recognition of our relationship, but given the times and the location the best we could do was to draw up matching wills and a Durable POA for emergencies, which we did in in the mid-'90s.  

    I worked as a cook and chef for the Alaska Railroad, then at Prudhoe Bay (2 weeks on, 2 weeks off), and various restaurants. "John" was an RN supervisor, first with the state (also a lot of out-of-town time) and then with a number of hospitals.  Our entire life together has been that way. It felt odd at first but as the time went by, it became like a worn-in shoe – not much structure, but a comfortable fit, and the kind of support you can only have when you've had plenty of time to get used to each other.

    As the years wore on and our bodies aged it became apparent that getting around in the snow was becoming increasingly difficult and would soon be impossible. We decided to move somewhere in the Pacific Northwest.  In late 2001, I went to Seattle to open up a photography studio. "John" stayed behind in Alaska to finalize the sale of the house and finish out his last few months at work before retirement.

    I found a warehouse on the waterfront, opened the studio, and started working.  "John" - who I knew would prefer a more suburban setting - settled on a place in Salem, so he could spend some time with his grandson from a previous marriage (I'm his 4th or 5th depending on how you count). I, meanwhile, would be able to spend the next few years working in the studio.  Given our past history, the idea of spending 2 weeks in Salem with "John" and 2 weeks in Seattle was hardly foreign to either of us, as that's the schedule we'd been already been living with for nearly two decades.  And that's the way things went for almost 10 years – until my progressing disability forced a change in plans. After having to close my studio and work for a couple years at various other jobs, I got ready to move down to Salem to finally be with "John" full-time.  That was in summer 2011.    

    The bombshell came only a few weeks later, revealing cracks in the marriage I hadn't known were there.  Communication broke down due to "John's" anger and controlling behavior, and things weren't looking good. When I visited him in August of 2011 he said, “maybe we should stop seeing each other.”  I returned to my former studio in Seattle, devastated.  I'd already given notice on the place, and now I had no home to go back to, and very little time to completely reformulate my entire plan for the future.

    I finally decided to move to Northern California, where the cold damp weather in the coastal towns would be perfect for my disability.  I hoped to get a small mobile home and resume my photography if possible.  I was waiting at the time for SS benefits to kick in, but I figured that between the benefits and a modest settlement from "John", I would be able to make it work.  I discussed it with "John".  He agreed it was a good idea, and it was decided that I would stay briefly with him while waiting for my benefits.

    I went to Salem in early November, and after barely a few days, "John's" hostility became unbearable.  I spent the better part of the next two weeks locked in the spare room, and on November 18th, I packed up my $500 car with a few personal items (computer, clothes, and bedding – not much room left over in a 1991 Isuzu Stylus after that) and left late in the night, the tears streaming down my face as I drove away in silence... Away from the only man I have ever loved, away from our 28 years together, and into an uncertain future.

    We had $50k in a 401k, a Prius in the driveway, and a house that was 100% paid for. To be reasonable, I had asked for $30k out of the 401k and continued medical insurance and prescription drug coverage. He could keep the rest: the car, the house, and everything in it. I had asked for this - in writing. He had agreed to it - in writing. So, I drove to California to start a new life, broken-hearted, but still expecting things to turn out for the best.  

    After arriving in Eureka, I got a lovely email from my husband asking me to please return to Oregon: "Whatever our problems, we can work it out, come home NOW". I turned my car around and headed home.

    I should have known better, because before I made it to the Oregon border, I received another email - this time, from a lawyer forbidding me to go home or contact my husband in any way (this, it turns out, was of dubious legality, as it was NOT a formal restraining order, and I was never served with any documents in person).

    The money my husband promised me for a new life never appeared, and I found myself living at I-5 rest stops and eating at gas stations off my Shell card. A trial date was set. Three months... Three months... I panicked and called the only family member within 500 miles, my 85-year-old Aunt Mary in Clackamas. I spent a month on her sofa, and from there I went from free bed to free bed, waiting for the trial to clear things up.  After all, Oregon is a 50/50 state and Domestic Partnerships are to be treated exactly the same as marriages.

    The trial was short and sweet, with my husband's lawyers on one side of the courtroom and me on the other, representing myself – since, of course, I had no money to hire an attorney.

    The judge said there was no marriage and no relationship before 2008, so only major items purchased after 2008 were marital assets - since none were, there's nothing to split. Half of nothing is nothing. Oh, and because I was covered by my husband's medical and drug insurance that would be ending as well.

    I learned all this a few days later, when the judge sent me his ruling in a personal email that stated I was "Sincere but not credible". As I read, my life and my marriage and my hopes for a better tomorrow started going down the drain. I was not amused when he closed the letter with "In Friendship". Alaska felt friendlier to me.

    I felt cheated; I felt my civil rights had been violated; I went to a civil rights lawyer. I screamed, I cried - she was convinced I needed a good divorce lawyer, but in the end I convinced her to listen to a recording of the trial (if for no other reason than to shut me up). After all, it sounded like I was telling some pretty tall tales. She and another lawyer (he specialized in divorce) generously donated several hours each of their time for a very low fee, agreeing to review the trial together. Between the two of them they said they might, find some grounds for retrial.

    Find them they did. Lots of them. They were shocked at the treatment I received at trial:

1. His "witnesses" to our non-marriage admitted under oath they haven't even seen us in 15 years.

2. Under Oregon law the settlement we reached in writing was binding and should have stayed in place.

3. I got my husband to admit under oath that his earlier testimony, under oath, was a lie.

4. The opposing lawyer told the judge, “it's almost lunch time, we need to wrap this up.”  As the Judge started wrapping things up and telling us we would have our answer in a week or two, I protested:  “Your Honor, I'm not done." His words were clear, and I felt their sting. "Yes, you are." More Polk County friendliness, I guess?

    There are many more errors, of course - and I admit to making a few myself, not having represented myself in court before...  for example, I showed my evidence, but did not know how to officially submit it, so despite mentioning it in my opening statement, and several times thereafter during the trial, none of my documentation was included in the decision itself - but the odds of having a new trial granted are 100%.  I may not have known the law, but the judge should have, and he erred. Plain and simple.

    Well, plain but not simple. You see, it takes time and money to fight for a retrial, and then once granted there's more time and more money spent on the second divorce trial, which would again be ruled upon by the same judge we had in the first trial. Would I win? Yes, I would, but the question is - win what? They tell me that the law is clear, and that only assets after 2008 are shared... and because we had no shared assets purchased after that date, I will win nothing.  Which, as it turns out, is exactly what I won when I lost the first time – if that makes sense.

    Oh, sure, I could make my ex-husband's life a living hell and force him to spend our - oops, his - retirement money on legal fees. But that’s not who I am, and I don't see what good it would do. If anything, it would just prolong the sickness of the relationship... although I do believe there’s a special place in hell for spouses that abandon their disabled partner of 28 years (and, let me repeat, he's an RN).

    He sat there on the stand and said no marriage existed and that I was “nothing more than a roommate, and a pissy one at that.”  He said this while holding in his hand three certificates issued by the State of Oregon that fairly persuasively proved otherwise... And the Judge said that I was not credible?

    But I’m not angry with my ex-husband.  Well, of course I am, but as I said before, that does no good. No, all my anger is directed at the State of Oregon, Polk County, the judge that didn't listen to me, and the system that failed me. I thought the law was there to protect me. I thought wrong.

    As one final kick in the nuts, the deadline for filing for a new trial was July 27, 2012 – my 57th birthday. I let the date quietly pass. I had briefly attempted to see if I could kick-start some sort of on-line legal defense fund but my calls for assistance went unanswered and my emotional energy was - and still is - at an all time low.

    I have a friend in Anchorage who has opened up his home to me, so I sold the Isuzu for and bought a plane ticket for the end of August. In the meantime, I got a ride to Seattle and am once again sleeping on another friend's sofa. My personal effects are in a storage locker in Oregon, so now I've got to find a way to get my goods to Alaska. Moving companies want $3,000 or more, and I don't have it (although if anyone is moving up north all my stuff fits in a 7x11 U-Haul - though I wouldn't be able pay much, I can promise that I'd have a nice warm plate of cookies waiting for you).

    However, I really don't have time to worry about my things. I'm 100% disabled, a depressing neurological disorder called Trigeminal Neuralgia. My medical insurance has now been cut off, and my prescription drugs last only till the end of my current bottles. After that I'm on my own.

    I’m not totally broke. Prudential sends me a nice little check each month (emphasis on little) while I wait for SSDI to be approved. It’s under appeal, has been for the last three years, and they tell me it will be another three years before I'm in the system. But that check isn't nearly enough to cover the monthly costs of my prescriptions. Honestly, I have no idea what I'm going to do.

    I do know one thing. I’ve spent my entire life as a non-violent pacifist (my military service notwithstanding) - but the next person that tells me domestic partnerships are exactly the same as marriage is likely to get punched right in the nose.  

Tim K.

PS: Over the years I’ve been on line, I've also been known to comment or post as:  "Gandolf The Gay", "Tim Who?", and "Aurora Studios".  I've also had two web sites: "Tim’s Place" - a photography and food blog, and "Midnight Sun Studios" - a photography site that was a bit more 'adult-oriented.'

Originally posted to Gandolph the Gay on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 01:34 AM PDT.

Also republished by Kossacks for Marriage Equality, Milk Men And Women, LGBT Kos Community, Angry Gays, and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Marriage is a commitment between (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jlms qkw, Flying Goat, chimene, lonespark

    two persons.  Whether or not that commitment is recognized and registered by agents of government is incidental.  Or, if not, the registration is for the convenience of the community at large.  It's good to know who's claimed responsibility for whom and thereby relieved the rest of us of having to care for them.
    It is in the interest of the state for adults to be married.  Which is why the whole kerfuffle over gender is so useless.  What we should be concerned about is that only 49% of adults in the U.S. are now married.  51% are single and likely to become a burden to someone else.
    Obviously, in the case you've described, there was a lack of commitment and some cluelessness. In any event, government does not exist to make individuals do what they don't want to do.  At most, it exists to punish individuals who have demonstrably deprived others of their rights by depriving them of rights, in turn, and keep them from doing it again.
    Moreover, when adults consent to being abused, it's not abuse.
    The notion that the state exists to protect is very misleading.  Which is why I routinely object to the "Bill of Rights" being trotted out as some sort of talisman. The Constitution addresses the behavior of agents of government--what they must and may do and what they should not do, unless it's warranted. The "should nots" in the amendments are all qualified or conditional. "Protection" exacerbates the conditions -- i.e. provides additional reason to disrespect human rights.

    "In the name of the nation and of the dollar and of the rule of law, your sons and your daughters shall be sacrificed."
    That's the mantra of the national security state. Seeking protection is hazardous to liberty.

    Willard's forte = "catch 'n' cage". He's not into "catch and release."

    by hannah on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 02:09:48 AM PDT

    •  Marriage is suposed to be an ENFORCABLE contract (6+ / 0-)

      This is, of course, in stark contrast to "arrangements" such as "shacking up", "broom jumping", "hand fasting" and the "civil unions" offered to same-sex couples as a substitute for actual marriage -- in which dependent children and spouses are pretty much dependent on the goodwill of the other partner.

      All but the most extreme Anarcho-Libertarians accept that one of  the legitimate functions of governments is to enforce contracts, whether or not both of the parties still want  to honor the contract's terms and conditions.

      Historically, the terms and conditions of "marriage" have involved the support of children and dependent spouses, the orderly inheritance of property ... and in those cultures that permit divorce ( which is virtually all of them, except Patel, Mormon, and pre-Industrial Revolution Christian)-- a predictable system of dividing family assets in the event of divorce.  Our more modern interpretation of the Ancient Verities holds that the "dependent" is not always the female, and that the division of property should be as fair and equitable as possible ...as agreed to by the parties themselves -- and if they cannot agree on terms -- by the court of jurisdiction.

      Now ... as to "when adults consent to being abused, it's not abuse."   Well, pretty simply "the courts have almost always held otherwise."   This has sometimes been a problem for the BDSM/Leather Community folks  -- but for most people in most cases -- "thank goodness."

      I personally do not want to adopt the values and manners of the Sons of Anarchy's, Samcro MC.

      •  the coercive impulse is strong (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Killer of Sacred Cows

        and authoritarians want to be backed up.  But, it is practically impossible to make people do what they don't want.  You can extort certain behaviors by posing alternatives that are more or less negative. The bottom line is "do what you're told or die" and if the latter is chosen, what was told won't get done.

        That's why triangulation is preferred.  If a person has any sensitivity at all, then posing a threat to another, innocent person, may bring him 'round.  That's the strategy of the kidnapper and the terrorist and taking the welfare budget hostage.

        Willard's forte = "catch 'n' cage". He's not into "catch and release."

        by hannah on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 08:23:38 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Just so we're clear (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          emidesu

          Do you feel that "marriage as we have known it for 8,000 years" is simply part and parcel of the  "authoritarian" impulse to "make people do what they don't want to do" -- and nothing more ?

          Or are you going even further into the Sovereign Citizen concept: that NO "so-called law" is binding on individuals who do not choose to be bound by that particular law ?

          I mean

          If a person has any sensitivity at all, then posing a threat to another, innocent person, may bring him 'round.  That's the strategy of the kidnapper and the terrorist and taking the welfare budget hostage.
          C'mon ... you can't really be asserting that even the "moral suasion"  (that conspicuously failed to "end slavery" in the United States) is tantamount to abducting children and gridlocking the legislature?

          And do you really mean to say that everyone has a "better nature" which may be appealed to, when, for example, the guy with the wandering eye decides he'd rather have a NEW partner and rather not suffer any financial loss or personal inconvenience in making it so ?

          When and where has THAT ever  worked ?

          In Roseau's "state of nature"?

          In Genesis' "garden"?  

          In someone's solitary "Thought Experiment ?"

  •  and this is EXACTLY why DOMA must be repealed (18+ / 0-)

    We have always been able to do pretty much whatever a heterosexual couple can do, as long as we had a few thousand dollars to spend on attorney's fees. Not equal, no.

    Tipped, rec'd and all kinds of republished.

    -7.75, -8.10; All it takes is security in your own civil rights to make you complacent.

    by Dave in Northridge on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 05:07:59 AM PDT

  •  so sorry (16+ / 0-)

    I signed in just so I could post.  I have been having some problems with proofing ... long story, but forgive any typos

    Divorce is the one shittiest thing that ever happens, in my opinion. The partner you chose, loved, supported, etc. decides that meh, he/she is not so into you after all. It hurts, in the best of circumstances, but frequently the partner decides that he wants to dig into you one last time, just for fun (?). In your case, he denied your marriage and made sure all the assets were in his name. But it is not just the assets, it is also the hopes, dreams, security, love and joy of the relationship that are torn from you.

    What happened was not just because of the name ... marriage vs domestic partnership ... it was also because your partner designed the breakup that way. The law did not work to "protect you" ... it rarely does. But the fault is in the way your partner had no qualms about taking everything and not caring.  There are lots of divorced women who can tell your same story. I know I can ... maybe not to the same degree, but still where he got the law to support him and I was too distraught and too poor to do much of anything except agree.

    I am so sorry that your 28 year relationship ended the way it did. I am glad that you still have friends and relatives willing to help you.

    Good luck ... and remember that the best revenge is a life well lived.

    "Life without liberty is like a body without spirit. Liberty without thought is like a disturbed spirit." Kahlil Gibran, 'The Vision'

    by CorinaR on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 06:33:20 AM PDT

  •  What you don't know is (6+ / 0-)

    It sounds like your partner has serious control issues-

    let's say you were a woman living this lifestyle with this man

    It is VERY likely he could have pulled the same shit on you and gotten away with it - since you lived independent lives (to some appearances-- living in different states) you'd probably have a hard time claiming a long-term relationship.

    And...

    Would this asshole have even married you?  Let's say it was 100% legal -- my bet is he would NEVER have married you-- because, sorry, I'd say there's a pretty good chance he was fooling around/having other relationships, and men are men - I'm guessing had you been a woman he would have pulled the same thing.

    And when you went to court you would have had a similar outcome.

    The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. --George Orwell

    by jgkojak on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 06:57:33 AM PDT

    •  I do know (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sfbob, blueoasis, lonespark

      His serious control issues are well known. We were working on them, together. It became too difficult for him to deal with, that is all.

    •  I agree that plenty of straight women (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lonespark

      and also more than a few straight men, get right royally screwed by their ex-spouses.  But, still they ARE spouses, everywhere and all the time from the first ceremony or signature.   And that gives immeasurably better odds when it comes time to go to law.  

      Don't diminish the inequality that same-sex relationships face.  It is very real and it sucks.  

      "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

      by lgmcp on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 09:54:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's not what I said (0+ / 0-)

        What I said is that he has absolutely no proof that this guy would have married him - that a different-sex couple in their situation would likely have the same legal outcome (no proof of shared assets/residence) and his boyfriend is an asshole--

        now, what he MAY have found out is that the guy had no intention of marrying him or committing, and if it were legal, he would have known this 20 years ago.

        But it sounds like he kind of knew it and chose to be strung along in a bad relationship... gay marriage being legal won't fix that.

        The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. --George Orwell

        by jgkojak on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 10:29:16 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Hope you still have (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sfbob, lgmcp, blueoasis, Avilyn, ladybug53

    a camera or two nearby.  It's the only therapy that's ever worked for me.

    190 milliseconds....

    by Kingsmeg on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 07:23:25 AM PDT

  •  DO YOU HAVE AN SSDI LAWYER????? (23+ / 0-)

    If you think you've seen a kangaroo court already, you ain't seen nothing till you get in an SSA disability hearing. Trust me--I make my living doing higher-level SSI/SSDI disability appeals.

    The vast majority of SSI/SSDI lawyers work on contingency, which means no money up front.

    You're in Alaska, right? Call Paul Eaglin in Fairbanks, (907) 374-4744. Tell him Michel Phillips sent you. It doesn't matter if he's a long way from wherever you are--he's worth it. If he can't handle your claim for some reason, perhaps he can refer you to somebody closer, or steer you away from the lawyers you want to avoid.

    "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

    by HeyMikey on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 07:29:35 AM PDT

  •  This is one of the biggest reasons (10+ / 0-)

    why living together "without benefit of marriage" is a bad idea - regardless of gender.  Our society has a whole slew of laws designed to protest married people, and they do nothing to help the unmarried.

    And that is one of the best reasons for marriage equality.

    Early to rise and early to bed Makes a man healthy, wealthy, and dead. --Not Benjamin Franklin

    by Boundegar on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 07:59:22 AM PDT

  •  I'm sorry this happened to you. (10+ / 0-)

    Your ex-husband is an asshole.  

    I've known two people who have had husbands of 20+ years kick them to the curb. The emotional shock was so severe, neither was capable of protecting herself legally or financially in the divorce. The idea that they needed to go to court to haggle over the assets they had from a lifetime of marriage was something they could barely comprehend.

    I wish I could help you out. But other than walking up to your ex and giving him an anonymous and unexpected fist in the nose, I don't have much to offer.

    "YOPP!" --Horton Hears a Who

    by Reepicheep on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 08:06:22 AM PDT

  •  (hug) (7+ / 0-)

    I'm so sorry this happened to you, but I have no wise or useful words... so I'm sending a hug.  You deserve better... and I hope karma catches up with him.

    (just a note, though... the changes in behavior you describe sound somewhat similar to someone with bipolar disorder.)

  •  If you are still in Seattle (11+ / 0-)

    Waiting to go to Alaska, send me a private message and let me take you out for dinner somewhere and kvetch about our "divorces".  Gay divorce sucks.  Went through one myself a few years ago. Not fun. But I'm a firm believer in everything happens for a reason... I keep finding more and more examples of this the further away I get from the divorce.

    ~ Nothing insightful to say ~

    by EagleOfFreedom on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 08:44:54 AM PDT

  •  A heart-wrenching tragedy (8+ / 0-)

    and very difficult to read about let alone to live.   I feel so sad for anyone whose long-term partnership falls apart, but most especially for my gay brothers and sisters.  Because we DON'T have the legal or social or in many cases even family support for these times that try one's soul.  

    But my god, to be stripped of assets after a lifetime of shared investment.  It is shocking that John refuses to honor his written contract.  No one should EVER represent themself in court, I've heard time and time again that no good can come of it -- and most especially a gay person in a matter of divorce or child custody.  It's too new.  Law and custom and plain old habit are stacked against us.   And, let's face it, disability also contributes directly to getting the short end of the stick.  Pain and financial woes take their toll, and persons with an air of desperation are very hard for strangers to trust or warm to.  

    What with the 2008 cutoff and all, I understand why a retrial on the matter of divorce seemed futile.  But I wonder, isn't a written financial agreement binding even in the absence of marital status?  Perhaps you might explore a new suit on new grounds in an effort to recover some small portion of your lifetime assets, or at any rate pressure John into behaving not QUITE so badly.

    So sorry for your trials.  Wishing for a warm welcome from your friends in Alaska and some kind of respite for you.

    "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

    by lgmcp on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 09:48:40 AM PDT

  •  This exemplifies the importance (4+ / 0-)

    of having access to equal marriage rights. You should have never had gone through what you have gone through. Divorce proceedings will always be an ugly necessity, but we deserve access to them just like any other American. I have little to offer you except cyber-comfort which I give most sincerely.

  •  Sorry to hear of your troubles, Tim. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lgmcp, Killer of Sacred Cows

    It sucks that you cannot enjoy the same benefits as hetero couples.

    Considering how you've been treated by this person, though, sounds like you're better off not being with him any longer.

    But I know that can't take away your pain.

    Wishing you luck...

    For a better America, vote the GOP out of office whenever and wherever possible and as soon (and as often) as possible!

    by dagnome on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 10:21:34 AM PDT

  •  Our Canadian wedding (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Killer of Sacred Cows, lonespark

    has no force of law in our home state, and I don't know how it stands in the few states that have some degree of marriage equality.

    But when did it, I read on Canadian government pages that although they granted marriages to non-residents, they only granted divorces to residents.  So if (heaven forbid) my wife and I ever decide to undo the knot, one of us will have to reside in Canada for a year first.  

    So we're EXTRA married.  Most gay couples are .... the diarist had 3 certificates.  If I had a little more time and money we would have flown to Mass., flown to California during the short window, to New York and Iowa -- collect them all!  

    "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

    by lgmcp on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 10:24:50 AM PDT

  •  i've recently started seeing a guy (4+ / 0-)

    who is married to his current partner but, under california law, cannot get divorced.

    he also told me last night that, due to current federal regulations there really aren't any added benefits for same sex married couples and that it actually costs more for things like having to file income taxes twice (once for california as a married couple, twice for the feds as 2 single men).

    fortunately, i'm not the marryin' sort so i'm not put off by not being able to get married should that come up in the YEARS to come but it does underscore the need to roll back DOMA and make marriage equality the law of the land.

    hope springs eternal and DAMN is she getting tired!

    by alguien on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 10:44:24 AM PDT

  •  Two Things (4+ / 0-)

    First and most important, I am so so sorry.  The brutal emotional pain of divorce is something that doesn't differentiate between gay and straight.

    Second, I"m a little confused following your report of the judge's ruling.  It sounds as if what the court ruled was that you would have been entitled to a property division after 2008 when you entered into the Registered Domestic Partnership, but it was moot because there were no assets actually created (or contributed to, I presume as it relates to the 401K) after that date.  Am I reading that right? I ask because if we substitute a heterosexual "marriage" for your marriage, the same outcome would have resulted in most states.  Since an asset created before marriage is completely separate property, not part of the marital estate at all, and it doesn't change its character after marriage absent a transmutation which is not an automatic thing at all.  The only thing that can be done is, if there were contributions by one spouse to another spouse's separate property, there can be a reimbursement of that contribution to the extent that the marriage itself (the community) didn't benefit from it.  So were things like the house and 401K in fact created before 2008, and that you contributed financially to, or were they something else?  

    In asking the question I am certainly not trying to downplay the seriousness and sadness of what has happened to you. I'm just trying to figure out how this is any different than what has happened to heterosexual spouses in your situation too many times to count (which, for the record, I think is wrong and immoral.)

    •  Their 1st attempt to get married (3+ / 0-)

      was in 2004, so that would have moved the window of acquisition back at least 4 years.  Plus some states have common-law marriage so if you were together and sharing assets for 28 years the clock would go all the way back -- not that separate domiciles wouldn't complicate it, it would.

      "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

      by lgmcp on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 03:09:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You're Right About the Separate Domicile Issue (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lgmcp, jgilhousen, lonespark

        And personally I think that's a major reason things turned out the way they did.  (Family courts don't dig married people who choose separate domiciles as a matter of choice vs. necessity, believe it or not.)  But under state's law (Oregon or Alaska) he'd have been hosed.  Oregon has never recognized common law marriage and Alaska hasn't since 1917.  So, once his first marriage was declared void at inception, it eliminated legally the 2004 date as a possible date from which to measure property rights (not that the declaration that his marriage was void was right, mind you; it isn't and wasn't).  Again, that would have been the same result as a straight couple in a property division family law case in virtually every state:  the date from which you evaluate whether property is separate or part of the marital estate is the date of the legal marriage.  Sometimes a state will allow something called "putative spouse" recognition (i.e. you thought in good faith you were married but for some impediment/technicality you weren't) but here, the parties knew they weren't married the minute that their marriage was declared void, so the diarist couldn't access the "good faith belief in a marriage"  theory either to roll the clock back.

        But my point was to point out that this really is not different than what has happened in heterosexual couple's relationships when one party to the relationship had all the power and put all the assets in his or her name before the date of the marriage, and the other party had no proof that the character of the assets wasn't as it appeared (separate) despite their contribution to them.  Sad, but true in my experience.

        •  Starting in 1995 (0+ / 0-)

          I felt with 28 years together our marriage wasn't an issue.

          I thought the legal, wills and Durable POA registered with the state of Alaska in 1995 were important

          I felt getting married 3 or 4 times meant something.

          I tried the 'belief in marriage' clause.

          I tried the Common Law marriage angle.

          I tried Intent! We Intended to be married.

          I was required to prove we were married and I had to prove I was disabled.

          I failed at both.

          The Judge didn't believe a word I said and said so much in his letter. "You overstated both your relationship and your disability, I find you sincere but not credible"

          Translation: I don't believe a word your saying.

  •  AK moving strategy (5+ / 0-)

    I am sorry-  what a horrible way for your relationship to end.  

    So there are a couple of other options for moving your stuff to Alaska:

    1.  The US postal service has very good shipping rates, especially if you can wait 6 weeks for arrival. They will take all sorts of odd shaped packages, including packed suitcases.  Also, for books & CDs & DVDs their media rate is phenomenal.

    2. Air freight is often a much better deal than moving companies.

    3.  Have you already sold your car?  If not pack it to the gills & travel by ferry.  It is more expensive than flying, but you arrive with your car, & don't have to pay to ship anything you were able to fit in the car.

    4.  It is time for Triage.  I know this is a rough time emotionally to let go of items full of memories. But my last bit of advice is to get rid of the storage locker --sell what is replaceable and ship the rest.  Take it from someone who had to pay more than $10,000 to get her stuff out of storage when she returned from Alaska a few years later, the storage approach is not a good option.  

    I hope things start going better for you.

    •  Moving (0+ / 0-)

      I'm 5 hours away from my storage locker. My disability won't allow my to go outside when its over 70 (all summer) and if it was cool enough to travel I haven't the physical strength to move, mail or ship the boxes.

      If I had a passport I would have packed the car and drove it rather than selling it.

  •  The time for lawyers if before things go wrong... (4+ / 0-)

    So sorry for all your troubles, but unfortunately you make a case study for gay relationships.  My partner and I have been together over 15 years. We're registered domestic partners in WA, which means we might be married come November depending on the referendum results.  But we've NEVER relied on the changing laws to protect financial interests.  Before buying the house or major assets, talk to a lawyer, make sure the title is correct.  If you have a written agreement, make it sure it legals, notarized and preferably recorded. Not much you can do about 401ks, but sharing money into individually named savings accounts is a fair alternative.  It may not be terribly romantic, but having legally binding agreements (and making sure they get updated when laws change) can save a lot of trouble.

    Civil marriage is a default property contract. If you don't have the advantage of marriage, nothing stops you from writing your own, binding contracts. Do it. If you do ever break up and you have title to the major assets, its not a matter of getting property from your ex, its YOUR property.

    •  And don't forget "family planning" (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ladybug53, jgilhousen

      Make sure beneficiaries and registration is correct for major assets and accounts.  If something unfortunate happens to you, do you really want your mother-in-law inherting the other half of the house?

      It may not be fair that straight couples get inheritance benefits automatically, but it certainly doesn't stop gay couples from getting what they want.

  •  You mentioned military service? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jgilhousen, lonespark

    Check with the VA.  There are programs for Veterans who qualify financially for VA healthcare.  I know because my husband qualifies under this program.  

    I used to be disgusted. Now I try to be amused. - Elvis Costello

    by gnbhull on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 04:42:40 PM PDT

  •  The controversy and drama over (0+ / 0-)

    marriage exists because people have different definitions of marriage. Your personal and/or sacramental relationship are not the business of government; your financial/contractual one is. This is true no matter the gender of the parties involved. Why not civil unions for all; people who want a religious ceremony can have one as well. I found it really strange when I had to get my marriage license signed by my priest.
    I am not a libertarian but it seems to me that if we put the semantics aside and treated all partnerships equally we'd be much better off.

    The founding fathers knew of the mutually corrupting influences of Church and state, wisely sending them to opposite corners.

    by emidesu on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 05:43:11 AM PDT

    •  Having said that, I'm so sorry for all you are (0+ / 0-)

      going through. I am blessed with a very happy marriage but I've seen horrible divorces among family and friends.

      The founding fathers knew of the mutually corrupting influences of Church and state, wisely sending them to opposite corners.

      by emidesu on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 05:50:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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