We now have, in Britain, civil partnerships for gay men and women, and soon we may have gay marriage. This is all well and good, and far too long coming, but what about all those gay couples who were in loving relationships for years and weren’t allowed to register it?
Many of these people are now dead, but there are also surviving partners like myself from gay relationships where one partner died before civil partnerships became possible.
I appreciate it is a difficult area and hard to change things retrospectively, but surely gay men and women who were in loving relationships for years should have some sort of recognition, given that they were never allowed to register these relationships?
Many, like myself and my partner, exchanged rings or tokens of our affection, and looked after each other literally ’till death did us part, in sickness and in health’. Yet we have no status whatsoever, our partnership is omitted from family trees, the surviving partner is not entitled to call himself/herself a widower or widow on legal documents.
It was bad enough not being able to announce our relationship formally to the world, having to furnish our home from second-hand stuff and things found in skips, not having a formal ceremony or honeymoon. Being in a precarious legal position all our lives together, not knowing if we could even visit our partner in hospital if seriously ill or attend the funeral if they died. My partner and myself made out simple Wills to each other, but we were never formally recognized as a couple.
If a gay couple were in a loving relationship for many years, exchanging rings or tokens of affection, then some sort of recognition should, in my view, be given retrospectively. This does not apply to heterosexual couples who freely choose to co-habit without getting married, though the option of a civil partnership should be made available to them too.
For gay men and women, however, who were not then allowed to register their long-term partnership and put it on a formal footing, some sort of recognition for their commitment to each other should now be given, whether one partner is still alive or not.
I do not know what form of wording could be used, but any surviving partner of such a long-term loving relationship should most certainly be allowed to legally describe themselves as widowed. For the relationship itself, whether both partners are now dead or not, a term should be used to indicate it was a long-term, loving and caring relationship with tokens of affection exchanged but at a time when civil partnerships and gay marriage was not possible.
Perhaps a term like ‘loving partnership’ could be used with, as stated, any surviving partner entitled to describe themselves as ‘widowed’.
I strongly object to describing myself as ‘single’ on official documents and refuse to do so. I feel widowed, I am widowed. I was with my partner 21 years and he died literally in my arms. I will not have this long, loving relationship denied. We most certainly would have put it on a legal footing if we were allowed to at that time.
For this reason I now wear the ring he gave me on my wedding finger, and the one I gave him on the third finger of the right-hand (apparently the wedding finger for Greek-Cypriots). My father was Greek-Cypriot.
I could ask my partner in Spirit what he thinks, but I already know. He has spoken to me many times since he died. Unfortunately such posthumous communications are not recognized by a lot of people. Our relationship of over two decades with the exchanging of rings should be sufficient proof, however, to anyone that we were committed to each other ’till death did us part’.
I’m now asking my partner (via his dictionary so I can’t be accused of influencing his reply) Â if he has anything at all to say on this matter. I will now open the dictionary at random and point at a word or definition again at random, without looking: he is saying that thereÂ SHOULD be ‘an official rule’.
In the absence of this I shall continue to wear the rings on these fingers and continue to described myself as widowed, with a written explanation, on all documents.