Does marriage without a license satisfy?Mar 31 04:19
Its not unheard of in the disability community for couples who want to get married, to bypass the official license, and just have the religious ceremony. Getting married in the eyes of the US government means you’ll lose benefits that many people with disabilities rely on; benefits that can make or break your independence. Can you imagine having to choose between losing PCAs or getting married?
I first heard about this clever work-around when I was 19 and living temporarily at an independent living center. I met an adorable couple where each counterpart had Cerebral Palsy. They were crazily in love, but at the same time were heavily dependent on the services they received from the state, like SSI, subsidized housing, food support and Medicaid.
If they had gotten legally married, their SSI would have been cut in half, their rent would have gone up and they’d have to pay a portion of their health insurance. Neither had a FT salary job that could’ve proved as a solution. I think the woman worked as a secretary part-time, but still, not helpful. So they had a big ceremony at their Lutheran church, a reception afterwards at the VFW, she wore a wedding dress, he wore a white tux, there were pictures, a cake. Everything made it look like a “real” wedding. She even changed her last name.
But the question I have to people who have done this: Is this a satisfying long-term solution, or do you sometimes have pangs of sadness? I sometimes think about this solution, and wonder if it would bug me (it would). But if I had, I'd do it, because there’s no way I’d risk losing my in-home care, and possibly have to move into a nursing home.
The other work-around if you’re not religious is handfasting. I have a few friends who've gone this route and it was utterly romantic. This is a beautiful ceremony with Pagan roots, where the couple has their arms bound together with a cloth, a symbolic gesture that means the couple is now one.
Or my favorite - “Jumping (or in this case ‘rolling‘) the Broom,” (Wikipeda definition) that originated in West Africa and was once popular in Wales and among African Americans in the 18th-19th centuys. This awesome tradition had the couple literally jump either a broomstick or a flowering broom branch, to symbolize their union to one another. My Dad did this when he married my step-mom, and it was a surprisingly emotional (in a good way) thing to watch.
As an Agnostic, I love, love, love these solutions. I do. But at the end of the day, I just wish they weren't necessary. Toss up another concession to the "Reality Wins Again" category.
Post a comment about this blog!
1. Jarrod | Apr 05 06:54
As a man that dreams of having the entire husband and wife thing. it sadens me alot as i could not servive without my funding or support
2. Tiffiny | Apr 06 03:54
@Jarrod - would you consider a non-legal marriage, yet one with a religious ceremony, just as equal?
3. Indigo Jo | Apr 08 05:06
I think a lot of religious people would just be satisfied with a religious marriage. I'm a Muslim and I know a lot of Muslims who haven't bothered with the register office marriage (i.e. the UK civil marriage) - it just needs the parties to agree, with witnesses, and the marriage is done (you can have the big wedding feast as well, you just don't bring the state into it). There are a lot of polygamous marriages and they are all done like this. They would certainly have no problems with this if a civil marriage would make their lives difficult in any way. Whether that works in the situation described depends on whether couples who live together without a civil marriage have the same eligibilities as those who are legally married. If so, they would not be able to live together (at least not all the time) but could have a religious marriage.
4. LMarie | Aug 22 12:52
Yes, it is a satisfying, long-term solution. The point of marriage is to live a life committed to one another forever. A marriage license doesn't make this happen, only the people who agree to the marriage do. The license is good for legal matters, but it cannot, by itself, make a marriage (ask Kim Kardashian, Ochocinco, Tori Spelling, etc.). Read Marriage Without a License (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0050VILR8) for a more detailed explanation of how the marriage license came to be.
Disability buzz, travel, fashion and dating — fun things to amp up everyday wheeling life.
Tiffiny Carlson is freelance writer and writes the “SCI Life” column for New Mobility. She's also a C6 quad from a diving accident that occurred when she was 14 years old. A lifelong resident of Minneapolis, Tiffiny has been a writer in the disability community for over 10 years and writes for several publications and blogs, as well as her personal blog BeautyAbility. Her work has also appeared in mainstream publications such as Nerve.com and Playgirl.