I haven't told you everything that went on in my life as a result of Jim's death, but since the Supreme Court was discussing DOMA today, I have a story to tell you. I will never say anything bad about our federal workforce again.
The day after Jim died, I looked at our bank statement and I saw that his Social Security payment had been directly deposited into our account that day. Now, you understand that that made me think "Call Social Security and stop this NOW" because there was no way I wanted any department in the government coming after me to get money they put in my account back because they shouldn't have given it to us, or me.
So I did. I got a VERY solicitous young man (man, at any rate). I told him that we had just received the December payment, but that the recipient (my husband, since we had been married in California in 2008) had died the day before. After he assured me how sorry he was (he even asked how long, which makes me think this was a solicitous GAY man, although given the polls if he was under 30 he might well not have been gay), he said that he'd look to see if there were any circumstances under which I might be able to continue to receive benefits. Before I could tell him not to bother because DOMA, he went off to research.
When he came back, he apologized that he had not been able to find anything and I told him of course he couldn't because, well, I research and write about this stuff and DOMA prevented it. He said he knew that but he had to check anyway. So goodbye, 20% of my household income.
I've made up for most of it with an increased teaching load (and it will be even MORE increased in Fall 2013 because I have 12 units at the school I just started teaching in this semester instead of the 3 I have now), so I can wait until I'm not making too much to claim Social Security to take mine. Incidentally, Social Security called the bank that the deposit was being made to and I was surprised a week later to find a letter from my bank consoling me for my loss and telling me what to do with the death certificate when it came; as of today, almost four months later, said bank has not changed the account. Not a problem.
Anyhow, if you were wondering how DOMA hurts people, here's how.
12:11 PM PT: Thanks for your thoughtful responses so far. I have to go teach now, and I'll be back to respond to comments and questions around 9 PM Eastern.