Touched by loss. Empowered through community.

#LoveWins

Date: 
Monday, June 29, 2015
Posted By: 
Eden Maheras

This week history was made, as SCOTUS declared marriage equality in all 50 states. This is such great news to couples who have been denied the rights granted to married couples for far, far too long. I didn’t manage to make it to the Pride Parade, but I can only imagine that the mood was even more amped and celebratory than usual (which is hard to imagine because it is always such a spirited party).

This is a huge win – for the gay community, for so many families who will enjoy the benefits of legal unions, for those of us who just think equality is important, and for LOVE.

It also means that the official ranks of the widowed community will grow. I know that we, the widowed, are not exclusive – those who have lost their betrothed, or their boyfriends or girlfriends, are accepted with open arms into our support groups. It’s not about whether you’re checking off the “widowed” box on forms asking for marital status; it’s about what’s in your heart. But now there will be more “widowed” boxes checked on those forms.

Now all widows and widowers will be entitled to survivor benefits. I doubt this is at the top of most parade-goers' minds today, but this is huge. As many of you surely know all too well, Illinois is a particularly tricky state in which to be widowed, especially when there are kids in the equation. When JP died, with no will to be found, I learned this the hard way. There is so much red tape, and so many confusing rules and regulations when a person dies without a will – it took me two estate lawyers and countless hours on the phone and trips to the bank with various forms of documentation to wade through the estate business. Fortunately, applying for and starting to receive my Social Security benefits, which we truly have relied on, was not one of more difficult tasks. I can’t imagine having to fight for that, or being denied that, because my union wasn’t recognized in the eyes of the law. So maybe this isn’t the most uplifting aspect of this momentous win, but it’s an important one.

So now there will be a nation-wide contingent of couples to whom I will say, upon learning of an engagement, “the first thing you should do is write your wills.” Right after “congratulations.”

Comments

Excellent, timely blog and great advice!

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