Originally published 7-3-09
Like approximately 11 percent of my fellow Southern Californians, I joined the ranks of the non-working class recently as the imploding economy took its toll on the marketing firm where I had been gainfully employed as an executive for six years. As I troll for work and manage my cash-crunched household during this down time, I have discovered there are special considerations and challenges for a laid off lesbian.
First off, there was the issue of losing my health insurance. If I had been a married heterosexual woman, then adding me to my spouse’s policy would have been a snap, but as my partner and I waited out the Prop 8 debacle, and the state of gay marriage in our great state is once again in limbo, we needed to go extra steps to enroll me.
My partner, a school teacher, took time of from work, and we headed out to the LAX Courthouse. We had no idea either that our city’s airport was such a landmark it has its own court. It was the nearest location for obtaining a certificate of domestic partnership, but it took two trips to get it right, as the first time we went the window for domestic partnership closed early, so we had to come back unless we wanted to register to be notary public or file a claim for real estate.
Finally, with certificate in hand, I headed to the fortress that is the Los Angeles Unified School District headquarters and the ivory tower that is the benefits department to file my paperwork. But after hiking half a mile from the parking lot and waiting in line to get my security pass so that I could even get on an elevator, I learned that our certificate was not acceptable, and that we needed to register our domestic partner with the state in order to get coverage that included our two-year old son.
You see, if I had been my partner’s wife, then I would simply add any and all dependents to the policy, but as domestic partners we were required to either go through the lengthy, expensive and arduous process of obtaining a court order giving my partner legal guardianship or an adoption of our son, or, as LAUSD thankfully recently amended their requirements, we could get our domestic partnership certified by the state.
So back to the courthouse 11 days later, this time downtown, and we renewed our vows to be recognized by the state as domestic partners, and our son was added to her insurance.
With health insurance finally taken care of, we were onto to figuring out how to adapt our lives and budgets to best weather the economic storm until I got another job. Sadly, we had to let the nanny go. We couldn’t afford to pay a babysitter, but if I had to provide childcare every working day then I would never have time to job hunt, so we came up with a plan. We took in a border, a young woman who would live with us rent-free, in exchange for babysitting a few days a week.
In order to do this, we needed to consolidate our home, so my partner who had always enjoyed a room of her own, had to move her belongings into the master bedroom with me. As the femme of the couple, I was challenged to make room for her clothes and shoes in my walk-in closet, which was no small feat, and she had to get ready for work without turning on the light, so she wouldn’t wake me up at 6 am.
Despite multiple runs to Out of the Closet to donate every piece of clothing that failed the “two-year rule,” whereby if it hadn’t been worn in that time it had to go, we both felt more than a little crowded, and put out, like when I found my Kate Spade pumps crushed under a pile of UGGS, and when my partner got dressed in the dark and wore mismatched shoes to work, twice.
Also we found ourselves in the conundrum of an upside-down Ossie and Harriett lifestyle, where I became the stay-at-home wife, though she had traditionally been the more domestic of the two of us, always having dinner on the table when I got home, while I was always the do-it-yourselfer around the house, with a love for power tools and WD-40.
It took some adjustment for me to do all the grocery shopping and cooking. I fell rather neatly in the roll, in fact a bit too much, as soon I found myself making the dreaded “Honey-do” lists for my partner of chores she needed to do around the house.
I am tempted one night to open the door wearing one of those housewife turbans and a big hoop skirt, or else accessorized with a martini and nothing else, but truthfully after a day of chasing the little one, doing laundry and making meals and cleaning up, I’m just too tired to even contemplate it.
It’s much more exhausting to be a laid off lesbian than a power dyke, so all I can hope for is a new job soon, or else my Honey is going to have to bring me some bons bons or at least a new hand mixer so I can make her a cake.