(This essay first appeared on CNN, August 18, 2022)
In 1981, long before the legalization of same-sex marriage, I committed to living for the rest of my life with Carole, the woman I loved. But when Carole and I introduced each other to friends, we had no language to describe our relationship.
If I referred to her as my "partner," many assumed business partner. "Lover" felt too intimate, "life-partner" too clunky, "special friend" an abhorred remnant of a closeted era.
"Wife" would have made our relationship absolutely clear, but it was a word denied to us at the time.
The penalties for this extra-legal union were severe: Carole's adored father, fearing his Catholic priest's condemnation, refused to speak to her. We both faced potential job losses if found out. Carole, working for the federal government, had to maintain an especially low profile since we'd heard of lesbians being fired once they were "discovered." Read More