Engelhard, hit by a car that lost control in the snow, was gay. He left behind a partner of nearly 15 years who was not mentioned in his obituary or official information released by the Highway Patrol, although members of the agency knew about his sexual orientation. If Engelhard had been married, his spouse would be entitled to lifetime survivor’s benefits from the state pension system – more than $28,000 a year. But neither the state Highway Patrol pension system nor Missouri law recognizes domestic partners.
This story hits me especially hard, as these two men have been together about as long as Clyde and I have been, and are about the same age as we are.
Certain commenters on the story have the gall to say, “Well, this is no different from a straight man leaving behind an unmarried girlfriend.” It is, of course, completely different — because a straight man would have at least had the *option* to marry the person he loved.
As a people, we need to rise up and demand that the lawmakers we elect are prepared to honor the basic human right to choose a spouse … and to provide that spouse with the basic legal protections every partner deserves.