Sometimes it's the small moments of discrimination that smack you in the face and wake you up.
I recently had some minor outpatient surgery and had to take some time off work. One of the calls I had to make to arrange this was to Prudential Financial. The call was going as smoothly as could be expected when dealing with a long list of personal questions.
Then came the question: "Marital status?"
Then came the smack.
I replied without even batting an eye, "Domestic Partner."
The woman on the phone paused and said to me, "Single, married, or divorced?"
I again calmly answered, "I am registered domestic partners in both my county and my place of employment."
The woman again paused, sighed, and repeated in an annoyed tone: "Single, married, or divorced?"
Did she not hear me? I was explaining my legal status to her question and she was simply not acknowledging it.
I again explained that I was registered in my county and with my place of employment, which is what this company benefit was connected to. It was perfectly clear, wasn't it?
That's when the smack came again.
She said very curtly, "Look, we don't have a box for that. You can only be single, married, or divorced. Which is it?"
I was stunned. I was none of those things. My 6 year relationship with my husband, raising a child together, building a life and home didn't fit in to those categories by her standards.
Our relationship didn't have a box and therefore didn't exist.
Before I could say anything, she made the choice about my relationship for me, saying, "If you're not married, then you're single. Next question..."
If I wasn't married, then I was single.
I completed the questionnaire in a daze. I had just had my life reduced to a check mark in a box. I had been told that my love didn't exist. All the memories and times shared with my partner were wiped away by one question.
Sometimes it's the small moments that drive home what inequality really is. It's the moment you realize why we fight and why it matters.
I will not have my relationship wiped away by a voice on the phone and check in a box.