The Right's Blindness

by Christopher Orr | August 10, 2009

 National Journal's Jonathan Rauch writes movingly of a cousin, Bill, his partner, Mike, and a life-threatening illness:

Having just been told, at 3 a.m., that his partner of three decades might die within hours, Mike Brittenback was told something else: Before rushing to Bill's side, he needed to collect and bring with him documents proving his medical power of attorney. This indignity, unheard-of in the world of heterosexual marriage, is a commonplace of American gay life.

Frantic, Mike tore through the house but could not find the papers. He would need to retrieve them from a safe-deposit box. Which was at a bank. Which did not open until 9 a.m.

The story ends happily, and provides a lesson:

[W]hat happened in that hospital in Philadelphia for those six weeks was not just Mike and Bill's business, a fact that is self-evident to any reasonable human being who hears the story. "Mike was making a medical decision at least once a day that would have serious consequences," Bill told me. Who but a life partner would or could have done that? Who but a life partner will drop everything to provide constant care? Bill's mother told me that if not for Mike, her son would have died. Faced with this reality, what kind of person, morally, simply turns away and offers silence?

Not the sort of person who populates the United States of America. If Republicans wonder why they find themselves culturally marginalized, particularly by younger Americans, they might consider the fact that when the party looks at couples like Mike and Bill it sees, in effect, nothing.

 You can read the whole thing here.

--Christopher Orr

Source URL: http://www.newrepublic.com//blog/the-plank/the-rights-blindness