ABBEYDavidMcNew:Getty

A reader writes:

Situations as shown in your post worry me constantly when I and my husband travel. We both have medical conditions that could at any time put us in an emergency room. Although in California we feel a little safer (we are one of the 18,000 couples married here while it was legal) it's still very difficult and degrading. Any heterosexual married couple only has to say that they are married and either of the spouses would have full access and rights at any hospital in the world without having to show any proof. I on the other hand would have to show proof of marriage (and in our case prove that we were married during that period of legality) in most places.

We were married on our 30th anniversary.

It's that last point that brings this home. A gay couple can be together for thirty years and still be regarded as total strangers by their own government and by their own president and their own Speaker. They can be denied access to hospitals, thrown out of shared apartments if one of them dies, barred from the funerals of their spouses, and denied over one thousand federal benefits. They can be forced to testify against one another in court, or be forced to leave the country in order to have a stable home if one of them is an immigrant.

Such couples have to disguise their relationships when entering through immigration (as well as concealing HIV medications in their bags) for fear of being split up by immigration officers and forced to live abroad as so many now do. Imagine a straight married couple having to hide their marriage from the American government in order to avoid the risk of it being torn apart.

One major political party regards this kind of cruelty and discrimination as something so vital it wants to enshrine it in the federal constitution - a position championed by the last "compassionate conservative" president. And his successor pays lip-service in small gatherings of gay activists, takes their money and work and support but will not lift a pinkie finger to help. All the time he is firing gay servicemembers for the crime of being gay.

He may believe it is prudent to wait. That is his prerogative. It is my prerogative to call the first black president missing in action on the vital matter of a minority's civil rights.

(Photo: David McNew/Getty.)

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