Lori Long and Mark Contreras met in November 2015 on Match.com. They went on their first date a few weeks later at Tarpy’s Roadhouse in Monterey, California, and two years later, Ms. Long would almost break his heart. After the Tarpys’ first date, they both realized they had found their lifelong soul mate in a matter of weeks. Yet three months after Ms. Long enthusiastically accepted Mr. Contreras’ marriage proposal at his Salinas, California, home in December 2016, Ms. Long realized that marriage wouldn’t be possible for her.
She still wanted to marry him, but not if it meant losing her health-care coverage. Lori is mired in a bureaucratic maze. She was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis at the age of 15, a disorder that causes bone fractures and occasionally necessitates using a wheelchair. As a teenager, she saw her family struggle financially to pay for her health treatment when she first became ill, despite the fact that she had private insurance at the time.
Lori Long is not alone. Many disabled Americans are still unable to marry. I am one of them. Same-sex marriage was made legal across the country in 2015. Unquestionably, this was a tremendous advance for marriage equality. However, many disabled people who rely on government programs like Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are still unable to marry without their benefits being reduced or eliminated. I rely on Medicaid and SSI to make ends meet.
Medicaid pays for my personal care attendants. Without Medicaid, I would be forced to live in a nursing home. SSI allows me to pay my rent. I hope to get married one day, but antiquated policies prevent me from doing so. Everybody with disabilities should be able to marry.
LaGorce, Tammy. “Seeking Marriage Equality for People with Disabilities.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 25 Aug. 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/08/25/style/marriage-equality-disabled-people.html.
Liptak, Adam. “Supreme Court Ruling Makes Same-Sex Marriage a Right Nationwide.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 26 June 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/27/us/supreme-court-same-sex-marriage.html.
Star, Eryn. “Marriage Equality Is Still Not a Reality: Disabled People and the Right to Marry.” Advocacy Monitor, National Council on Independent Living, 14 Nov. 2019, advocacymonitor.com/marriage-equality-is-still-not-a-reality-disabled-people-and-the-right-to-marry/.