Op-Ed: A case for civil unions

From the Loveland Reporter-Herald:

My husband, John, and I were extremely happy to bring our twin sons home to their one-year-old brother. Both John’s grandparents and parents were blessed with three sons, and we were too.

Gabe and Toby were identical, and for many people, it was difficult to tell them apart. It wasn’t until we moved and gave them their own rooms that you could see their individual personalities blossom.

Teachers thanked us for having Gabe and Toby in their classes because of their good character, inquisitive spirits, and desire for excellence. They made us so proud with their high school and college achievements because they were focused on their education. Of course, we hoped equally for their bright futures of employment and beginning their own families.

Our oldest son married and is the father of three grandchildren. Toby married his wife last December and honored us all when he asked his twin brother to be his best man.

Gabe fell in love with a man. He and Lalery have had a relationship since 2004. Gabe said I taught him commitment.

When Gabe came out, I was told to disassociate with him and repent of all of my involvement with him. But I could not. I love all of my sons equally and could not abandon one of them — my heart wouldn’t let me. As a result, my husband and I are estranged from our oldest son and his family.

The state of Colorado cannot let homophobia and fear of gay and lesbian people keep it from providing equal protection under the law. I urge the legislature to take action to provide my wonderful son and his partner with critical legal protections to take care of each other.

Without civil unions, Gabe could be banned from his partner’s bedside, unable to make healthcare decisions for him.

Without civil unions, Lalery would be unable to take family leave to care for my sick son.

Without civil unions, Gabe can’t provide Lalery with health insurance — like my husband’s coverage provided me through my September car accident and recent surgery.

I am not worried about Toby being able to take care of and be responsible for his wife. They were automatically given these protections when they married. But Gabe and Lalery remain vulnerable, even though they are one of the most committed, loving couples that I have ever met.

Gabe and Lalery are denied the protections that John and I have enjoyed for 33 years, protections like access to healthcare information, hospital visitation, end of life decision making, inheritance, and others. Protections that my other sons were given when they married their wives.

As a parent it breaks my heart to know one of my children is treated differently than the others. I ask that our lawmakers change this and pass civil unions so that all of my sons can protect their families.