I’ve noted with some considerable satisfaction the attention currently being given by the Indianapolis Star, and reflected in recent commentary by Karen Celestino-Horseman on this site as well as Gary Welsh on Advance Indiana, to the unfortunate story concerning life partners Patrick Atkins and Brett Conrad. Together 25 years, longer than the marriages of a significant number of heterosexual couples, Brett found himself on the outside looking in when Patrick suffered an aneurysm and then a stroke. He unsuccessfully fought Patrick’s parents in court when he sought guardianship, although he ultimately was successful (for now at least) with respect to limited visitation rights.
Although not quoted in the Star’s article, Jerry and I were interviewed a couple of weeks ago by its author Melissa Patterson concerning our own legal arrangements and on issues concerning equal rights for same-sex couples generally. This occurred shortly before both of us were privileged to participate in the filming of a 5-part documentary on LGBT couples who have been together at least 10 years. We just observed the beginning of our 14th, but we were novices compared to a Ian and Ambrose, a couple who recently observed their coming to Indianapolis from England in 1956 after three or four years of being a committed couple before that. The brainchild of Indianapolis photographer Mark Lee, and titled “Ordinary Couples-Extraordinary Lives”, has its roots an exhibit of his photographs of same-sex couples several years ago.
It struck me that this project is important, because among other things it puts real faces and voices on what sometimes seem to be just printed words or sound bites of rhetoric over this amendment or that. Discovering that real next door neighbors, real office co-workers, and real people with kids in school with yours face day-to-day challenges with legal rights that you take for granted can be enlightening.