Quite a long time ago, Rhode Island rescinded the law that required couples to get a blood test prior to marriage. Before that happened I was one of the nurses who did the test. I was working in a small-town clinic, so often the couples who came in were people I knew individually as patients. There were a few occasions where I wanted, in my heart of hearts, to grab both parties and scream, â€œDonâ€™t do it!â€?
Of course, I did not even let my eyebrows flicker. Itâ€™s hard to watch someone hurtle into disaster and keep your mouth shut, but confidentiality, and the common-sense principle of â€˜mind your own businessâ€™ won out.
I came across a phrase on a right-wing web site, â€˜marriage rightsâ€™. This is not, as you might think, a defense of access to legal marriage as a right of citizenship. Itâ€™s the â€˜rightâ€™ of people who oppose gay marriage to describe their crusade as an act of defense, not offense.
Years after working in that clinic I had a patient who was dying. If gay people could legally marry in Rhode Island, she would have been able to arrange for someone to come to her bedside and perform the ceremony for her and her lifelong partner. Instead, with great effort and complications she was able to get to Massachusetts and make it legal.
Excuse me if I donâ€™t feel like my rights were infringed by that. I am in a heterosexual marriage of twenty-five years, and in all those years gay marriage was never to blame for any of our arguments. I think I speak for a lot of married couples when I say that there are issues closer to home we can fight about, if we are so inclined. Marriage is precious, the right to marry is a right that I value, and I would not deny equal rights to people who love someone of their own sex. Itâ€™s easy to take marriage for granted, unless you are barred from it. Iâ€™m glad Rhode Island doesnâ€™t put people through the blood test hassle, (which was discontinued because it had no public health benefits anymore), Iâ€™d like to see Rhode Island make marriage equal for all citizens. And Governor Carcieri, I havenâ€™t forgotten about the $15,000 you diverted. I want it back right now.