Unfortunately, in the absence of marriage, most LGBT couples do not have in place the potentially life-changing legal protections available to them. Heterosexual married couples are given legal rights to visit each other in the hospital, to make medical and burial decisions, a host of parenting rights, and so many other rights simply because they are married.
In Georgia, same-sex couples cannot marry, so most are left without legal protections because they don't put the legal protections available to them in place. It's not sexy, but there are a whole lot of things couples can do to protect themselves and consequently strengthen their relationship.
Most of us aren't planners for the unexpected medical illness, accident, or death. Even if we are getting older, most of us just don't want to think about it. Unfortunately, if we don't plan for these life events, it can create a disastrous situation for everyone involved.
I have seen it first hand where partners are kept out of hospital rooms, were not allowed to claim their loved-ones body, and were even put out of their house because their name wasn't on the house deed. Yes, these things really do happen every day.
Many of us stay in denial by saying things like "I have a great relationship with my partner's family, so we don't need to worry about it." WRONG.
As with any family, a person's death often times can bring out the worst in families. Greed typically shows up. The pain of losing a child or sibling sometimes causes families to suddenly deny the sexual orientation or life partner of the deceased family member. Sometimes, family members actually want to take their deceased child's children from a surviving partner.
These things do happen, and much worse.
What can you do to protect your relationship, your loved one, your children? Come to the MEGA Family Project's Legal Protections for LGBT People workshop on February 25th 2010. Click here to learn more about the workshop and to register.
Please don't put it off. This is one of the most important and responsible things you can do in your life.