CommunityMy FDL

Bargain Basement Marriage

Got a dollar? Well on June 30th that's all you'll need to get married in Lewsiville, Texas. And you'll even get change.

In Lewisville, TX, on June 30, 2007, the “99 Cents Only” store will be hosting a licensed minister to perform marriage ceremonies in the store.

I tried to speak to a manager about the event, but she was busy working a checkout with lots of busy bargain hunters.

The event will take place at 11 AM on Saturday, June 30th, at the 99 Cents Only store, on the Southeast corner of I-35 and Round Grove Road (3040)

So, run on down to the Denton County Courthouse and get your marriage certificates quick! You won't find a cheaper place to get hitched in June!

Proceeds benefit Operation Kindness Animal Shelter

This item, when I saw it over at Mombian, nearly made me bang my head into my keyboard, for a number of reasons. Especially after writing about the prices our families pay for not having marriage equality.

Even the folks at ParentDish were a little incredulous at first.

Seriously. On June 30th, the local 99 Cents Only store will be hosting a licensed minister who will be performing marriage ceremonies inside the store — so you can commit for eternity to your own and only for less than a dollar. Plus, all proceeds benefit a local animal shelter. What more could you ask for?

What more could you ask for? Seriously? Where do I start?

The folks at ParentDish cited cost as one of the reasons heteros don't get married. In that light, 99 cents does seem like a bargain. But, as the article points out, bridal couples will have to get a marriage license first. That still doesn't amount to a huge wedding bill. In Denton county the fee for a marriage license is $42. And couples will need to get their licenses no later than June 27th, because there's a three day waiting period before the license is valid.

If the folks at ParentDish point to the cost of getting married as a barrier, let's be clear about the difference between getting married and having a wedding. Getting married costs less than $100, and little more preparation than applying for the application and setting up an appointment with a justice of the peace. (You've got a choice of three in Denton County.) Having a wedding costs considerably more, with bills for venue, photographer/videographer, caterer, wedding planner and lots of other things to consider. You can get married and have a wedding at the same time, but you don't have to have a wedding to get married. You can get married, and get all the benefits and protections that come with it, without having a wedding.

So, for you can get married for $42 in Lewsiville any time, but for $42.99 you can have a wedding and get married at the 99 Cent Store in Lewisville, TX. If you're heterosexual.

Why does this make me want to bang my head against the keyboard? Because, as I've said before, gays are accused of “cheapening marriage” by seeking marriage equality, when in fact we pay a lot more for a lot fewer benefits.

Let's break this down or itemize it a little bit. In 1997, the GAO reported 1,049 federal benefits,rights and privileges that are contingent on marital status, including things like water and mineral rights, intellectual property rights (widows and widowers can get renewal rights on copyrighted works), hunting licenses. (I keep a copy of the report on my desk.) Now, if you forgo the wedding and just get married, in Denton County, Texas you'll be paying about $0.04 per marriage-based federal benefit/protection.

As I wrote earlier, a marriage license where I live is $55. So we're talking about $0.05 per federal benefit/protection. And that's not even counting state-based benefits and protections.

By comparison, same-sex couples in states that don't recognize same-sex marriage, civil unions, or domestic partnerships can have legal documents created to two or three of the benefits/priviledges of marriage: inheritance (a will, properly witness), hospital visitation and the right to make medical decisions for each other (medical power of attorney). Even couples who live in states where their relationship has some form of legal recognition will need legal documents if they ever leave they travel, because their legal recognition ceases to exist beyond the state line. And there's no guarantee that those documents will be recognized when we most need them to be.

Here in Maryland, one couple I wrote about previously (and who are also plaintiffs in the marriage case before the state Court of Appeals) spent considerably more than $55 to protect their family.

The plaintiffs represent longtime committed couples from throughout Maryland, including an older gay couple who say that without marriage, they cannot be guaranteed the right to make medical decisions for each other.

Another couple, Lisa Kebreau, 38, and Mikkole Mozelle, 30, say they have spent nearly $6,000 on legal documents, including medical directives and reciprocal powers of attorney, to ensure that their children are protected if one of them were to fall ill or die.

“That's a little scary,” Kebreau said. “Since there is no established legal relationship, then technically my partner would be a stranger to the child she helped conceive.”

Kebreau said she is facing the proceedings with hope and apprehension.

“Of course, there is this optimistic side of me which thinks everything is going to be wonderful, but there's just no way of knowing for sure how the court will rule,” she said. “I just want what is best for my family.”

If you itemize that out, Kebreau and Mozelle payed about $1,500 per legal protection. That's if you throw in parental rights regarding their children. Take that out and it's about $2,000 per. It probably took longer than the standard 3 day waiting period for a marriage license. So, like I said before:

By contrast Kebreau and Mozelle spent something like 109 times the cost of a marriage license, for legal documents that get them a tenuous hold on maybe three of the 1000+ benefits and protections of marriage, and the process of drawing up their documents probably took more than three days. And even then there's no guarantee those documents will be recognized or honored when presented at the hospital, as happened to Bill Flanigan. And the few rights you may secure at a much higher price, you must leave at the state line if you so much as take an overnight trip or a vacation, because you can't take them with you. So, if you're gay, you pay more, wait longer, and get less. And what you get may turn out to be nothing, but you won't know that until you really need it. Nevermind that some states have tried to nullify even those few meager, shaky legal protections. Meanwhile, you keep contributing to Social Security, pensions, and health insurance your partner can't share or inherit; basically subsidizing heterosexuals who do get all the rights and protections of marriage, at a discount compared to what the “gay tax” gets you.

So, maybe you can understand why I felt the urge to bang my keyboard into my head when I read about the bargain basement weddings available to heteros in later this month, for just 99 cents, with a whole package of benefits, subsidized by same-sex couples who don't get anywhere near the same benefits.

So long as you're straight, you can meet someone on Monday, June 30th (or even Tuesday) and be married in Lewisville, TX on Friday the 30th for $42 and get a 99 cent wedding, and you'll have more rights, benefits,and protections than the hubby and I have after seven years or any other same-sex couple has after decades together. Even if you barely even know the person you're marrying.

And yet we're the ones accused of “cheapening marriage.” Who's putting a 99 cent price tag on it now?

Crossposted from The Republic of T.

Previous post

Same Stupidity, Different Day

Next post

Red State Moral Values (from 2004)