An open letter to the Social Security Administration
Dear Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security
Do you remember when the Supreme Court handed down their decision regarding same-sex marriage last summer? And how people everywhere celebrated because #lovewins and #marriage equality? Even my own mayor raised the LGBT flag over the city. Really, the only thing standing between YOU and I DO was finding that perfect someone. Because now it didn’t matter who you loved, YOU can get married – unless you dared fall in love with me.
See, I can’t get married. No, the law doesn’t say I can’t but, because I am disabled and because I rely on your agency for support, I can’t. Your regulations say that if I get married, I lose my benefits – the benefits that pay my rent, buy my food, pay my medical bills.
Your regulations say I have to choose. A roof over my head OR life with the person who dared fall in love with me. Food on my table OR accepting his proposal. Medical insurance OR the hand of a devoted partner who stayed right by my hospital bed. Your regulations say I have to choose between love OR the medication that keeps me alive.
The marriage penalty imposed by this agency is wrong. It prevents millions like me from leading a truly fulfilling life and turns what the Courts said is a right, into a privilege – a privilege that can be taken away because I had the audacity to love.
Fine, I won’t get married but, maybe I’ll just have a commitment ceremony or live together. Maybe I’ll just have a symbolic marriage. No, your agency closed all loopholes. Your agency made sure that even the appearance of being married triggered the penalty for falling in love.
Is it my fault that I rely on a wheelchair? Is it my fault that I now require expensive treatments to live? Or Is it his fault that he fell in love with me – with someone who relies on the SSA?
Truth is I want to marry him but, I do not want to become a financial burden on him. It’s already hard to make ends meet as a single person, I don’t want to imagine what life would be like without the only income I receive. And I can’t imagine a life without the only person I want to spend my life with. I need you to eat, I need him for love.
People with disabilities have the same hopes and the same dreams as you do. We dream of our first kiss, just like you. We dream of our first date and our prom. And just like you may have, I dreamed of my big day. What my dress would look like – Tiffany blue and white. I’d even get a covering so my wheelchair would match. I’d wear chandelier earrings and a veil to rival Princess Diana’s. Our reception would be in a ballroom decorated to match my cake. I designed my cake – chocolate with a deep burgundy icing, silver accents…with flowers winding down the side. And mini versions so my guests get their own individual cake. I dreamed of what song we’d share our first dance to – Quisiera Ser. And we’d have our wedding party choreographed around us. And it’d be so vibrant, like a Vanessa Williams movie I saw when I was a girl. We’d get married in a castle rose garden and our honeymoon in Brazil. But we have to spend at least one weekend in Vancouver. It’s what he wants.
And then we’d be old and gray. We’ll share pictures with our grandchildren as we remember that day.
Dreams became reality when the supreme court said interracial couples could marry. They became reality when it said same-sex couples could marry. The court said it is our right, but really it remains just a privilege until you change your regulations.
Until then I will have to choose between a dollar and a dream
Love on Wheels