When I wrote last week about my joy over the court decision that allows lesbians and gays to have same-sex marriages in Iowa, near the end of the post I pointed out that our healthcare system is a far bigger threat to marrriage right now than gay marriage, which is totally not a threat to marriage no matter what.
To my delight, my very dear friend, Little Miss Attila (go there, look right for the “Quote of the Month,” sent over an estate attorney named Hans Carlson who agrees — at least about my point that our healthcare system is the biggest threat to marriage in the U.S. right now.
Mr. Carlson wrote his comment to “Now it’s safe for me to move to Iowa” in my”About me” post and I am giving it its own unique post because of an idea that popped into my head as I wrote my reply, which I have helpfully emphasized for your reading convenience by putting my proposal in red, bold-faced type:
Dear Ms. Yockey,
Directed to your blog from Little Miss Attila, and read your entry regarding the imperative need for estate planning under the looming specter of nursing home costs, as a possible downside of marriage, whether gay or straight. Excellent, excellent point! I am a (nearly) 60-year old estate planning attorney. Regardless of orientation, marriage might not be the best option for middle-age or older folks who aren’t very well-t0-do. Don’t run to Iowa or Vermont and get married without seeing a lawyer. Totally lacks romance, I know, but you still gave GREAT advice.
— Hans Carlson, Jackson, Minnesota
Thank you! It’s wonderful to have an expert validate that point!
I am planning to write more about this in the future to teach people what the issues are, how to educate themselves about the regulations and how to work with their doctors and lawyer to plan for their senior years and end-of-life care. Who knows? “Gay marriage” may become the popular name for the collection of legal documents lesbians and gays now have to use to approximate the rights of legal marriage.
When very pious, religious couples have to divorce for financial reasons so that the community spouse (i.e., the one who doesn’t need long-term nursing home care) will be financially able to stay in his or her home and live independently, it breaks their hearts and shatters their sense of morality. If they can divorce and call their new legal arrangement a “gay marriage,” I wonder if that would feel a little bit better. After all, as lesbians and gays we are fighting for “marriage,” not “gay marriage.” If you ask your clients who are forced into this choice whether calling their new status a “gay marriage” would make them feel better — and help people understand instantly what they had to do — I hope you come back and comment and let me know.
Really, people, the first wave of baby boomers are in their sixties now and this tidal wave is on the horizon. Estate and tax attorneys and CPAs already are telling couples over 60 that it is — not “may be,” but IS — in their financial best interest to divorce so that the healthier spouse is not destroyed by the longterm healthcare required by the other spouse.
It’s got to be heartbreaking and embarrassing for a couple to have to give the long explanation of why they divorced despite still being devoted to one another and totally married emotionally. Let’s use the term “gay marriage” to mean the conglomeration of legal agreements that lesbians and gays now have to use as a substitute for being married legally. THEN all the couple has to say is, “Now we have a gay marriage,” and everybody knows what they had to do and why and that they are still in their hearts married. Lesbians and gays get to have “marriage.” Everybody wins.
What say you, dear esteemed law professor and Blogospheric Neologian?