For those unfamiliar with the episode I’m referring to, it included the dramatic scenes of Dana being in the hospital with breast cancer and her partner Lara wanting to learn the surgery results from the doctor. Basically the doctor said he couldn’t legally share any information with Lara because she is not “family”. The scenes that followed reinforced this troubling reality as Dana’s parents show up, tell Lara to go away, and lie to Dana. Just what we all need during the moments of a medical crisis ripe with emotions!
Now, being prepared is always a critical success factor. But, for lesbians, the fact of the matter is that it is even more important to have the (sometimes) unpleasant details handled because the law doesn’t recognize our lifelong partnerships as the least bit important (I’m speaking from a United States perspective here). You and your dedicated partner can sometimes be taken about as seriously as two young schoolgirls on the playground. And, it’s not just someone’s perception or opinion because they have the legal system in their court (again, it just plain isn’t recognized).
Now, I am not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV. And, this post is not meant as legal advice. For that, I recommend you consult an attorney that can evaluate your personal situation based on the laws in effect where you live.
That being said, there are some great resources you can turn to for help. I can remember when my relationship first became serious. While friends were out reading about entertainment, I was engrossed with the book A Legal Guide for Gay & Lesbian Couples from Nolo. It is an informative and accessible introduction to the unique legal challenges we face. Pay particular attention to the chapters on medical matters to learn more about what your rights are under the law in the event you or your partner are ill or incapacitated. Whether your biological families are aware of your status, supportive of you, or not, it is important to understand the legal realities that exist, while everyone is healthy, rather than in the heat of the moment of emotion when something unexpected or unwanted happens.
While legal details are not the sexiest topic you can explore, they are important to handle so you can get with the task of living a full life without feeling weighted down by fear of the unknown. Regardless of what the cliché says ignorance is NOT bliss. Especially for gay & lesbian couples when it comes to legal matters.
Take a few moments and consider these questions:
Do I have the following details handled in my life?
- A will?
- A medical power of attorney?
- Durable Power of attorney?
- Agreements and legal documents regarding joint ownership of any property or sizable assets?
- Estate planning?
- Adoption and legal guardianship?
… Just to name a few.
While it isn’t a great deal of fun, it is worth it to take time as soon as possible to learn about and handle the legal details. Once your affairs are in order, you will be free to achieve even more success and enjoy life because you won’t be weighed down by the burden of wondering “what if?”
lesbian , lesbian business owners,LGBT ,GLBT ,success