Celebrating One Day of Marriage After a 41-Year Engagement
The afternoon this issue of Letters hits the stands, John and I will be celebrating our first anniversary—that is, a full 24 hours as legal spouses. Unless a Sharknado or other travel-disrupting kink has disrupted our plans, we got married at Clerk of the Peace John Brady’s office in Georgetown yesterday. It was a simple noninvasive procedure, which the office describes as a “Memorable Marriage ceremony.” I can hardly imagine any other kind.
To some of you readers the news of our marriage may resonate with déjà vu. In this very column exactly 12 months ago this week I announced that we were flying to Delaware to get hitched. But there was a hitch, and it wasn’t a flock of flying sharks.
Just days before our scheduled departure from Florida, we discovered that we would be among the couples caught in a marriage-tax penalty that could cost us thousands of dollars per year. We immediately decided not to rush into this newly available institution without a better appreciation of how badly it could affect our financial wellbeing—if you can call it rushing into marriage after more than 40 years as a couple. (I detailed our concerns in my CAMP Talk column of October 11, 2013, which is available on this website.) That one generated a lot of discussion, and for a while I felt like Suze Orman fielding so many questions on the subject.)
Our tax situation has not changed much in the past 12 months, and now that I’m married 85 percent of my Social Security benefits will for the first time be taxable even though we reside in a state that still does not recognize our marriage, thus denying us Social Security marital benefits. That continues to tick me off. But with at least five Florida courts (including a federal appeals court) having ruled this summer that our state’s same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional, we are more hopeful that Social Security benefits are close at hand.
We also have hired a new accountant, like us a former Rehoboth resident who now lives in Florida, and Larry is especially well versed in the tax pros and cons for same-sex married couples, as nearly 75 percent of his clients are gay/lesbian.
Our accountant acknowledges that a significant number of marrying LGBT couples face higher taxes as a result, and he points to two lesbian partners who recently wed even after he informed them it would cost them $5,000 more per year. I think we’re in the same ballpark, I told Larry with a gulp in my throat. But John and I are confident our new tax man will make sure we take advantage of every legal means to minimize the damage. Besides, he says, “there are lots of other good legal reasons to be married.” Ease of inheritance and health care decision-making lead a long list.
So, like many other couples, we decided to stop waiting for the perfect financial scenario to avail ourselves of our right to legally wed. Instead of staging an expensive wedding with banquet and five-tiered cake, we will eat the tax costs.
John and I have both campaigned for marriage equality for so long, and we have wanted to be married for even longer—though it didn’t seem possible in our lifetimes until quite recently. Life is short, we agreed; let’s get on with it. Now we’re just waiting for Florida to be forced to recognize what Delaware has provided us. Thank you, dear old home state of Delaware. We’re glad to be honeymooning here in Rehoboth Beach right now.
Thanks also to our Florida friends Dan (who is hosting us at his rental home), Rick and Greg, who are here celebrating with us—and to our dearest Rehoboth friends David and Jack.
To my husband, John, I thank you and love you with all my heart forever.
Our boy Zak, the world’s largest Shih Tzu, is honeymooning with us, too. You’ll probably see him around town dragging his newlywed parents to the entrance of every restaurant that has a pleasant aroma emanating from its kitchen. And in Rehoboth that’s a lot of restaurants.
By the way, if you’re thinking of sending us a wedding gift, we are signed up with the bridal registry at InternalRevenueService.give.
Speaking of receiving feedback on a column (as I was ten paragraphs ago), my piece “The Curse of Being Too Politically Correct” in the last issue of Letters has generated considerable buzz.
Although I don’t often receive a lot of emails (like I did back when I first began writing for these pages 16 years ago), I know I’ve struck a chord—or nerve—with readers by the volume of comments posted to my Facebook page (where I link each article). This time, the topic that riled some folks was how servers in restaurants and shops (especially in the South) address customers, females in particular.
I mentioned that it annoys my friend Marla when strangers in a professional setting address her as “sweetie” or “honey.” A life-long feminist, she regards such terms as belittling and often sexist if coming from a male. While some expressed their agreement, other women begged to disagree. Here is a sampling of the comments:
“As a server, Ma’am is appropriate,” wrote Barbara B. “However I do have a tendency to refer to everyone as honey, darlin’, sugar plum... It definitely is a Southern tradition. Bless Marla’s heart; she should stay out of all Southern states, as it is not meant to be disrespectful. It is a way of life… fer sur.”
“I have problems with Yankees objecting to honey, sweetie, etc.,” wrote Fifi L. “However, ‘dear’ is patronizing and usually sexist and not particularly Southern.”
To which I responded, “It’s interesting, Fifi, that you find ‘dear’ patronizing and sexist but not honey or sweetie. It appears that different words set different people off, perhaps depending on where you grew up. I think we can agree that doctors’ offices that play Fox News should have their licenses to practice taken away.”
Said Fifi, “It’s all pretty much a matter of nurture. …I never remember anyone but an older, condescending man calling me ‘dear.’”
Wrote Lynn D., “I’m a Northerner; never was called honey or sweetie by a stranger until I moved to Florida. Most of the time…it seems condescending to me. But what really, really bothers me is when in a restaurant with one or some girlfriends we are greeted by the waiter or waitress with, ‘How are you guys doing today?’ It’s like the word ‘guys’ is used as a catchall. I’ve never been able to figure that one out.”
“As a Northeasterner,” I replied, “you undoubtedly would prefer to be called ‘You’se guize.’”
I’ll let Marla have the last words (for now): “This ‘Southern talk’ or ‘Southern way’ doesn’t make it right. One could also say that a…school board’s decision to discriminate against LGBT youth is the local or Southern way…. I find that if someone older than I am calls me honey or sweetie, if done in an endearing tone, it is fine, but when someone younger is being of service to me it is way too personal for my taste. ...I have stopped asking them to not call me that, but changed it up to asking the server, male or female, ‘Are you flirting with me?’ And when they look at me HORRIFIED, I say, ‘Oh, it just sounds so personal when you call me that, and besides I am already taken.’ I’m hoping my question makes them think a little.”
Just like a writer, Marla.