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The inhumanity of “protecting marriage”

Timothy Kincaid

January 30th, 2010

glossip engelhardIn 1995 Hootie and The Blowfish were on the radio, Waterworld was stinking up the movie theaters, and Tommy Lee married Pamela Anderson. It may not have been the best of years, but it was a good year for Kelly Glossip; that’s the year he met Dennis Engelhard.

Over the next 15 years the two men built a life together. They bought and decorated a house, joined a church, and helped raise Kelly’s son from a previous relationship.

And Dennis established a career in law enforcement, earning respect as a Missouri State Highway Patrolman. Even though Missouri is not a liberal state, the two lived openly, even attending social functions with Dennis’ coworkers.

But in 2004 the residents of Missouri decided that they needed to amend the state constitution to protect marriage from people like Kelly and Dennis. And in the process, they provided justification for treating them with contempt.

EngelhardOn Christmas Day, Dennis Engelhard was assisting at a minor accident when he was struck by a car which had lost control in the snow. He was killed. And at Glossip’s time of grief, his state did everything they could to make his life more miserable.

Although there was no confusion about the nature of their relationship, Glossip was denied Engelhard’s survivor pension benefits. And the trooper support organizations decided that they would treat Glossip as dismissively as they would “any other boyfriend” because he’s not a legal spouse (ignoring the fact that most of them had voted to deny Glossip any choice of being a legal spouse).

But in an astonishing act of cynicism, the BackStoppers Police and Firefighters Fund used Engelhard’s death as a fundraising tool:

On the debut night of season nine of American Idol on Fox 2, St. Louis, Idol wanna-bes sang in an effort to raise money for true St. Louis heroes: the families of police and firefighters who’d given their lives in the line of duty. It was night one of the 16 week Backstoppers St. Louis Idol karaoke contest at Helen Fitzgerald’s restaurant and bar in Sunset Hills.

Backstoppers gives financial support to the families of police and firefighters killed in the line of duty.

Tuesday nights contest had a very special significance: the entire evening was a tribute to Missouri State Trooper, Corporal Dennis Engelhard, 49, who gave his life in the line of duty in St. Louis County on Christmas Day.

Engelhard was working an accident on Interstate 44 when an approaching driver apparently hit a slick spot in the snow, went off the road, hit and killed Engelhard, who was standing near the trunk of his cruiser.

The highlight of the evening was a rendition of Danny Boy by 15 year old Ronnie Bass. People in the crowd teared up as he sang what has become something of anthem for police officers. Engelhard had no wife or children.

Backstoppers had already presented his parents with the first check to help them cover expenses related to his death.

Their contribution to Kelly? Nothing.

“The parents are the legal next of kin,” [BackStoppers director Ronald A.] Battelle said.

But it was the state of Missouri that really went out of its way to viciously erase Kelly Glossip from official existence. The department issued an obituary reporting that Engelhard was single and had no children. (StLToday.com)

Gov. Jay Nixon called on Missourians to pray for Engelhard’s family, who “lost a beloved son and brother.”

Neither [he nor his son] were formally recognized, Glossip said, at Engelhard’s funeral last month, attended by dozens of law enforcement officials in Engelhard’s hometown of Brookfield, Mo.

While policies that exclude long-term same-sex couples from financial compensation are disgustingly unfair, officials that erase their existence during a funeral are inhumane. This is deliberate callous cruelty was designed to celebrate Dennis Engelehard’s sacrifice for his fellow citizens and make police officers appear to be heroes while dismissing, ignoring, and erasing Kelly Glossip, the part of Dennis’ life that they find distasteful or embarrassing.

ward franzBut no one displayed his contempt and an utter lack of empathy more than the man responsible for seeing that state employees are treated fairly:

The law would apply the same to a straight trooper with a boyfriend or girlfriend, said state Rep. Ward Franz, R-West Plains, chairman of the Joint Committee on Public Employee Retirement.

“I personally feel that a relationship should be between a man and a woman,” Franz said. “They still love each other and care about each other, but I don’t think we can change the law for that.”

In the recent testimony for Perry v. Schwarzenegger, supporters of Proposition 8 sought to argue that there really isn’t any animus towards gay couples but that society simply wants to protect the status and tradition of the definition of marriage.

I think we know that isn’t true in Missouri.

Comments

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Ben in Oakland
January 30th, 2010 | LINK

After listening to Blanky’s prop. 8 testimony, I want to write about animus, espeically animus disguised an indifference.

This may well be where i’ll start.

lurker
January 30th, 2010 | LINK

breathtaking.

AdrianT
January 30th, 2010 | LINK

This is disgraceful. Again, this is where the GLTB community must come together, show solidarity, rally round, organize a benefit event (which itself becomes a news story), a protest march.

Ray
January 30th, 2010 | LINK

Heartbreaking and a disgrace to humanity.

GreenEyedLilo
January 30th, 2010 | LINK

I don’t know what to say. I’m crying. In their attempts to “honor” this fallen police officer, they dishonor him.

I really think it would be a good idea for any LGBT organization in the St. Louis area to hold a fundraiser for Kelly Glossip, as AdrianT suggested. (Or there can be something else–a scholarship in Dennis Englehard’s name, say.)

paul j stein
January 30th, 2010 | LINK

Has any civil lawsuit been filed by Mr. Glossip for damages in this case? A partnership and “marriage” has more than been established. Seems money is the only thing that gets attention in this situation. Sad but true. My condolences and prayers. PJS

The inhumanity of “protecting marriage” « Women Born Transsexual
January 30th, 2010 | LINK

[…] reading at: http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com/2010/01/30/19967 Posted in Uncategorized. Leave a Comment […]

Kelly
January 30th, 2010 | LINK

I can’t decide if this is more heartbreaking or infuriating.

Richard Rush
January 30th, 2010 | LINK

I think it’s infuriating BECAUSE it’s so heartbreaking.

Rachael
January 31st, 2010 | LINK

“This is disgraceful. Again, this is where the GLTB community must come together, show solidarity, rally round, organize a benefit event (which itself becomes a news story), a protest march.”

It’s not just GLTB communities that need to come together and show solidarity. Heterosexual people, like myself, who are ashamed at the blatant bigotry, masquerading as something noble, need to stand up and rally as well.

Because a denial of rights to one group is a denial of rights to us all, in a nation where ALL men are created equal.

All men!

Sarah
January 31st, 2010 | LINK

I’m crying too. It’s positively unconscionable that people have to live their lives this way; in complete fragility and illegitimacy simply because they’re not “the norm.” It’s as though as a society we’re telling GLBT people “Fine, if you want to live ‘that life,’ you’ll have to work harder, give as much or more, and then ultimately lose it all when (not if) something happens. It’s not as if you two were married after all.”

dave
January 31st, 2010 | LINK

These people and their made up god are sick. They say god says marriage is between a man and a woman. God also said, according to what they made up, no divorce. They changed that so now you can get divorced and still marry in the church. They made up no meat on Fridays. That’s too much trouble for us too, we want meat so lets change that. God says go to church on Sunday. That’s too much trouble, we have things to do on Sunday, lets change that. How many other things can you think of that god said was the rule and they couldn’t follow it because it was too much trouble for them. I remember as a kid you couldn’t go into another faith’s church. They just make everything up to suit themselves and now they have the nerve to try to protect marriage for themselves. The sad thing is when they die they won’t be punished for being hipocrites and liars because there’s no god because they made him up. They’re ruining people’s lives with their voodoo. If that’s what they believe, just shut up and do it and stop inflicting it on others. Religion is like masterbating, you want to do it, go do it in the corner where I can’t see it.

Christopher Waldrop
January 31st, 2010 | LINK

To add to what Rachael just said, and as someone in an opposite-sex marriage, I feel I have to speak up. To put it simply, I support marriage equality. There is no reason that I can think of why Glossip and Engelhard should have been treated any differently from any other couple. As has been noted elsewhere, if they’d been a heterosexual couple who’d only met and been married a short time before this wouldn’t be an issue. These men spent fifteen years building a life together. There’s no excuse for callously dismissing that.

The argument I hear again and again that existing marriages are “threatened” by equality. The truth is that it’s the lack of equality that’s the threat. If Glossip and Engelhard’s relationship can be treated so callously, if what they shared can be dismissed so easily, that reflects poorly on all marriages.

Richard Rush
January 31st, 2010 | LINK

I’m pleased to realize that we get far more support from atheists than we do from those who proudly wear “Christian” on their sleeves.

I know, I know: Many Christians support us, and many gays are Christians. But virtually 100% of our organized opposition is motivated by and/or justified by Christianity.

Burr
January 31st, 2010 | LINK

It’s one thing that the law discriminates against them, but to completely pretend that he had no lover and no son is just being vindictive and hateful on top of it. There is no reason they had to do that and rub salt in the wound. How “Christian” of them..

Stormy
January 31st, 2010 | LINK

I hope it’s okay to post this here–there was a Memorial Eucharist at Christ Church Cathedral yesterday:

Honoring a Gay Missouri Hero
St. Louis Community remembers Dennis E. Engelhard

On Christmas Day Missouri Highway Patrolman Dennis Engelhard was struck and killed while assisting at an accident in Eureka, Missouri. Burial services were conducted as per family wishes in early January with internment at Christ Church Cathedral in Saint Louis. Engelhard is survived by his partner of nearly 15 years, Kelly Glossip. Mr. Glossip is also a member of Christ Church Cathedral.

Show Me No Hate is asking for the entire community to attend this special memorial event. Many of the rights afforded by marriage would of guaranteed the future of Engelhard’s spouse Kelly and their son. Missouri State employee benefits are not extended to same-sex couples. Imagine the tragedy of losing your spouse and then being forced to burden the expenses of moving on. And what’s particularly troubling is that without Federally protected same-sex marriage, family members can still override the grieving partner’s wishes.

In the spirit of obtaining 100% Marriage Equality, please help us remember Engelhard and all those LGBT Missouri State employees who are not able to extend their State benefits to their spouses and children.

At 2 pm, Saturday, January 30, 2010 Christ Church Cathedral will hold a Memorial Eucharist to celebrate the life of Dennis Engelhard, with a reception following around 3pm open to family and friends.

A Memorial Fund has been established in his honor to support Kelly and his son. You may send contributions to:

The Dennis Engelhard Memorial Fund
c/o Christ Church Cathedral
1210 Locust St
Saint Louis, MO 63101

The Very Rev. Michael Kinman notes, “Dennis was a vital part of our Cathedral community, as is his partner, Kelly. We have lost a dear friend and a community hero. Unfortunately, Dennis’ death has also served to remind us of the staggering lack of legal protections and benefits accorded to gay and lesbian couples and of our need to work for those protections and benefits so that future survivors don’t have their grief compounded by the indignity and practical hardships brought on by this discrimination.”

http://showmenohate.blogspot.com/

Maurice Lacunza
January 31st, 2010 | LINK

Well, I sent an email to: mshppied@mshp.dps.mo.gov
which is the information and public education office of the Missouri State Patrol. I stated that the treatment of this man was not honorable.

Sometimes I get a bit scared to use my real name for fear of retaliation. But if the editors of BTB can do it, so can I. And, for the rights of the Trooper and the rights of all of us, I am willing to put my name on my letter.

Regan DuCasse
January 31st, 2010 | LINK

The anti marriage quality folks hate to hear about stories like this. They think it ‘unfairly’ taps emotion and sympathy and exploits tragedy.
Right.

It’s FAR more important and especially a compassionate way to elicit emotional feelings for this trooper, his surviving partner AND the son they raised together, than raising HOSTILE and FEAR INDUCING EMOTIONS.

What IS a better way to make the public feel something FOR these two men?
Decent, hardworking PARENTS, as well as an officer, killed in the line of duty.
Emotional responses FOR THEM?
In FAVOR of them having the CHOICE to marry?

Or feeling emotions AGAINST them as if their lives, what they done for their community, is sinister, less than or in any way, threatening to what’s good for society?

The hypocrisy and depth of resentment for what gay people want the public to know and feel about them is mind boggling.
It really is.

Unlike opposite sex boyfriends and girlfriends, the choice NOT to marry is strictly in THEIR HANDS.
They could if they wanted to, and if they don’t, and aren’t concerned with the federal or state benefits of being married, that’s ENTIRELY up to them.

So for any pension board or so on to speak to a gay couple in such a way for denying benefits, is cruel because it ISN’T the fault of the couple NOR their choice that they weren’t married.

Just as arguing that being gay is a casual choice made or that could be, treating gay couples as if marriage is a choice too, salts wounds.

Thanks for letting me vent.
I really HATE crap like this.

anteros
February 1st, 2010 | LINK

sickening. absolutely sickening. what would it take for people to open their eyes and stop their hate? i’m so upset and disgusted.

hugs and condolences to Kelly and their kid.

CPT_Doom
February 2nd, 2010 | LINK

After 9/11 a local paper, IIRC, in Kentucky did the same thing – Ronald Gamboa and Dan Brandhorst were travelling with their son David on United 175. Brandhorst’s hometown paper initially listed him as single, not mentioning his partner or son. It was his blood family who protested, and the paper updated its story to reflect the truth. Too bad the state of Missouri couldn’t have the same heart.

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