That’s what my new insurance card read under my name: s-p-o-u-s-e. To some of you, you may think “big deal” but to many of us in the LGBTQXYZ. . . community, this is and can be a big deal. Besides the fact that my gal pal, sk, and I aren’t even married made the discovery a bit more strange. After I read it silently to myself a couple of times, I came to the conclusion that I liked it but I also realized that up until then I didn’t think I would ever be legally recognized as a “spouse.” Luckily, we live in Canada and according to our provincial law, if you live with another person oh, I don’t know, six days or six months the two of you are, by law, a domestic partnership. Obviously, sk’s employer does not offer many options for relationship status which could lead into a whole different story, so I won’t go there.
I like the word “spouse” for several reasons. The best may be the fact that there is no question as to what my relationship status is with sk. It’s a universal word that is recognized and revered. Visually, we do not appear to be a couple for various reasons so it’s nice to have something to “prove” our relationship, even if it just stays in my wallet most of the time. My right buttock (where my wallet usually sits) can tell the difference even if no one else can.
Years ago while living in Chicago, we got our domestic partnership paperwork done at city hall. . . along with a few not-so-nice looks from the clerks. That title did not mean anything to our employers, state or federal government. We still have that piece of paper filed away somewhere along with a photograph with a couple of hostile pigeons to document that special day. Sk and I recognized our decision to become domestic partners but no one else did. No one had to.
This one word, “spouse,” does not validate our relationship. We do not need others nor the government to tell us how we feel about one another, our hearts know. However, when you’re accustomed to not being recognized or only done so in a negative context, positive confirmation is nice in whatever form, no matter how small.