Love Under Pressure in Lesbian Matrimony
Black Love: An expert weighs in on the added stresses that come with being in a same-sex marriage.
TR: There are so many inconsistencies in the laws about same-sex marriage. Nine states and the District of Columbia have legalized it. Rhode Island recognizes it all the time. California does sometimes, and other states don't acknowledge it at all. How does this confusion affect black lesbian couples?
MRM: Even if you have a legal marriage in New York, you go to some states and they don't recognize your marriage. Couples worry about going to visit their families in another state and God forbid you have to go to the hospital. Will your spouse be allowed in the room to see you? To make decisions? Facing these kinds of unknowns in the larger society can put a strain on the relationship.
Also, black lesbian couples are more likely to have children than other lesbian couples, and their children are more likely to live in the South, and many other places, where same-sex marriage is not recognized. The law only [recognizes] the legal parent, which can be an adoptive parent but first and foremost is the biological parent. If both people can never be a legal parent, then one person always has the weaker status than the other in the relationship, and that sets up an inequality between the mates, which of course makes it difficult to maintain a healthy relationship.
TR: What's your advice for black women in same-sex relationships who are trying to build healthy, lasting relationships?
MRM: The things that work for all relationships also work for same-sex couples: Mutual respect, respect for what each person brings to the table, patience and having the same outlook on life are all important. When you have both partners striving to do better for themselves as individuals and supporting each other, it makes for a healthy relationship.