My Marriage, My Cousin's Marriage--No Difference
I met my husband at Northern Illinois University back in 1984. We went out to dinner one night with a group and sat across from each other. We struck up a conversation and discovered that we both had a love of skiing. That conversation sparked many more and we often sat up until the wee hours of morning, discussing everything under the sun. Four years later, on November 4, 1989, we were married, surrounded by our family and friends.
Edward Pazier and Dennis Bales first noticed each other on an "L" train going downtown 1992 while heading to their corporate jobs. Their first date was a lunchtime picnic in the gardens of the Chicago Art Institute museum and they discovered that they had a lot in common, from speaking Spanish, to their corporate jobs in the global world and a love of travel. On January 23, 2001, they flew to Vermont to get married in an outdoor gazebo at the base of a snowy mountain and threw a large reception surrounded by family and friends that summer.
Edward is my cousin. He and Dennis have a marriage similar to ours-- they argue about little stuff and then make up, they enjoy eating out and do pretty much everything together. But here's what's not fair: should either of our spouses pass away, our rights are very different. In my marriage, all assets would pass on to the spouse by law, including retirement benefits. In their marriage, the spouse would lose access to retirement benefits as their marriage is not recognized by Illinois law.
Their marriage is no different from mine-- is that fair?
Dennis works as a teacher in Chicago and is the GLBT Rights Chairperson for the Chicago Teachers Union. Dennis has been working hard to pass a bill, H.R. 4857, which would amend the Chicago Teacher Article of the Illinois Pension Code. This bill is up for consideration on February 3, 2010 at 4 p.m. If this bill is passed, it would allow a designated domestic partner to qualify as a surviving spouse for purposes of survivor and death benefits.Continued on the next page