As you read this, the lightbulbs in both my kitchen and my living room are out. And while I would like to say that it's because I lead a life of actual darkness that reflects the darkness of my spirit, the truth is that I am just mad lazy when it comes to completing fairly simple tasks. I also can't stomach the potential indignity of falling off a chair and having paramedics come in and see that this is how I decorate now that I live alone:
Anyway, it makes sense that I have been living apart from my ex for the last eight months and only just got around to dragging my ass to the Marriage Bureau at City Hall during lunch to get our domestic partner contract terminated. I also forgot we had one, so there’s that.
I accidentally wore the closest thing I own to a wedding dress to work that day so the city employees were understandably confused when I requested the termination papers. Here I am looking like the flyest divorcée in all of New York City:
So there are some great reasons to get domestic partnership such as rejection of the patriarchal marriage tradition, life-saving medical benefits for people you love, etc. But there are some terrible reasons too and some unintended consequences for when and if the partnership ends and you twiddle your thumbs in getting the thing terminated.
You Are Stealing Gay Thunder
Contrary to the beliefs of some (*cough* Mom *cough*), I have a pulse and a conscience. So I too cried a joyful tear at the overturn of DOMA and cried several when that New Yorker cover of Bert and Ernie came out afterward. But the fact remains, marriage equality in this country is still a really long way from where it ought to be and in many states, activists fought long and hard to make domestic partnerships available to same-sex couples.
These partnerships are as far as same-sex couples can get in legal recognition and for jerks like me to just LOL and head down to the Marriage Bureau in workout clothes like it's no thang, in retrospect feels really disrespectful to people for whom this is the ultimate commitment they can make it a legal sense.
I have actually heard one of the straights in a state that doesn't confer domestic partnerships to straight people that "It's not fair!" I mean, I guess that's not fair. But not as unfair as I don't know, corrective rape, violent and often fatal hate crimes, employment and benefits discrimination, and banishment from beloved faith and family communities. Check yourself and the bazillion other things you do get just for being born heterosexual before you say something silly.
Premature Death, Subsequent Conferral of Sweet Benefits
Some people look to the likes of iconic Cher Horowitz or Angela Chase as their 1990s film and TV kindred spirits. I look to Simon Birch. Like Simon, I suck at sports, excel at friendship, and plan to die a hero because of a vague and somewhat grandiose theological notion I have about MY DESTINY.
So imagine my shock when I realized in this termination process that if I were to meet my maker tomorrow for say, jumping onto subway tracks to rescue a fallen baby stroller or foolishly chasing down a bandit that stole a beloved artwork from the MoMA, I could inadvertently confer a handsome reward on my ex from the mayor by dying while preventing crimes or disturbances of the peace.
I want my cat to get my vast fortune when I die so this simply will not do.
It Can Be Used As A Marriage Compromise
In a world of increasingly open relationships and blasé attitudes toward permanent and legally recognized monogamy, it is hard to admit that you really want a traditional marriage. This is especially hard for people in relationships where the other person is cagey about the idea and you don't want to seem like you’re desperate to get married.
But a domestic partnership is not a marriage. It holds little of the social, legal, or symbolic significance of a marriage and getting into one isn't going to satisfy your desire for those benefits, both real and imagined, is selling yourself short of what you really want.
If you want to be married, tell your person that you want to be married to them. That you will not settle for the Diet Coke of marriage and that you are getting a tasteful white gown and those really fancy little hamburgers and getting all your friends drunk and everything else that’s great about weddings, in addition to all that fun lifetime partnership thing too.
You're Being THAT Guy
You know, that guy. That guy that loudly talks about how they won't get married even though they TOTALLY want to and are ABSOLUTELY ready. But there is no way they'd give THEMSELVES the benefit without it being extended to EVERYONE first. Cool your jets, Brangelina and stop making the marrieds feel bad. I know THAT guy because I was that guy, am that guy, and probably will remain that guy a while. But do as I say, not as I do, ya dig?
You Look Terrible at the Hospital
OK so this one is actually kind of stupid and vain. But I was briefly hospitalized in July and as a lifelong drama queen, my natural reaction was to text a ton of people a bunch of pill, syringe, and hospital emojis to tell them my woeful tale of sickness so they would feel really bad for me and hand-deliver Gatorade and DVDs to my apartment upon my release.
I was suddenly gripped by panic when I realized that news of my hospitalization might reach my ex who, as a kind and decent person, would probably want to do something nice for me like visit. Maintaining the illusion that you are preternaturally attractive, fabulous, and successful at all times after a break-up is going to get ruined by being seen in this frumpy hospital gown.
So before you jump into a legal contract with your person, make sure you’re getting into for the right reasons. And if you go for it, wear something cute because folks down at the Marriage Bureau kind of go all out for these things.
And now you know.