I care about marriage equality.
I posted stuff about it on Facebook, even changed my profile photo. I did everything that was happening, as it was happening. I did this in part to be an ally to my friends who are gay and also, to be honest, because I’m old fashioned. I did it because I believe in marriage.
I did it because I want my kids to marry. I mean, when the time is right for them, I want them to settle down with ONE PERSON and grow deep roots with that ONE PERSON. And that desire of mine for them does not change according to who they are attracted to. If Micah or Mack want to marry men, that’s fine with me but I want them to be MARRIED.
I feel the same way about Moxie – when she decides the time is right for herself, I don’t care if she wants to marry a woman; I just want her MARRIED.*
But this is the thing: Moxie and most others with Down syndrome can’t marry without being penalized by their disability benefits. And most people who need the safety net that disability benefits bring, really do need those benefits. That net is absolutely crucial and I cannot state that strongly enough.
If they get legally married, their income will be halved, and disability benefits are already below the poverty level. There is no way a couple could live on half. So there are these pretend marriages in the Down syndrome and disability communities, and more often than not, people just live together.
So yesterday, I cried.
I cried so fricking hard, all day, every time I opened Facebook, every time I thought about it. I cried for joy for equality, I cried that justice has been seen to. I cried because this has been a hell of a long wait, a lifetime of struggle for so many people. I cried because I’m proud of my country.
I cried because it’s now absolutely fair of me to expect all of my children to marry, whatever their sexual preference may be.
And I cried some more.
This victory will be perfect and complete only when we are ALL afforded equal rights and opportunities with marriage, when people with disabilities no longer face a marriage penalty with their benefits.
- For more information on how marriage affects disability benefits: social security website and social security disability help
* This is with everything understood of course, that marriage is the most important official connection to another human being you can make – it is not something to be done for the sake of doing it. It’s to be done because you have met the person you want to grow old with, you are physically, mentally and spiritually attracted to. ://end sermon
Meriah Nichols is a counselor. Solo mom to 3 (one with Down syndrome, one on the spectrum). Deaf, and neurodiverse herself, she’s a gardening nerd who loves cats, Star Trek, and takes her coffee hot and black.