Tag Archives: LGBT

New Station, Same Great Show!


Everyone has a story, but not everyone gets to share their story.

Healing Ties radio returns in January with new guests, new topics, new format, and a new station.

It is about creating a life to love after Caregiving ends through advocacy, leadership, writing, radio, travel, cruises

What’s coming up?
Radio: Have a story to share, an idea for a show, or would you like to be a guest on the show…contact me!
Whole Care Network: Looking to list you product or business in our resource guide…contact me! (rates vary: reserve your premium location now on the Whole Care Network)

Hire Me: Looking for a Key Note Speaker, Lunch in Learn, I have a variety of topics to choose from or I can customize a presentation to meet your organization needs.

Coming Soon:
Travel With The Bow Tie Guy
Custom Bow Ties to support charity!

You can also visit our FB page at The Bow Tie Guy

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What It Means To Be A Prime Timer


Join us on Wednesday May 27th on Health Café LIVE.com  at 7:00 pm (EDT) as we visit with  Dr.  Loren Olson.  An accomplished author and psychiatrist, Dr. Olson is a champion for LGBT  Seniors. With chapters all over the world, Prime Timers is a terrific organization that enriches the    social lives of LGBT seniors across the globe. On Wednesday’s show, we will chat about what it means to be a Prime Timer, how you can join a chapter in your area, upcoming regional and national events  and most importantly, why socialization is important as we age. Tune in and learn how the Prime Timers and Dr. Loren Olson is creating Healing Ties all around us!

To listen to Healing Ties Radio live on Health Cafe Live simply click here! 

Cannot listen live?     No Worries!! Healing Ties is available on  demand at iHeart Radio by  and now on UK Health Radio.

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LGBT Caregiving on Healing Ties Radio


Join us on Wednesday, April 1st at 7 pm EST on HealthCafeLive.com as we visit with Ernest    Olivas from Emerald Elite Senior Home Care in Wilton Manors, FL.  Serving the senior LGBT        community in the greater Fort Lauderdale area, Ernest and the staff at Emerald Elite Senior Home Care understand the concerns LGBT
Seniors have when accessing care.  We will talk about the      issues facing LGBT seniors and accessing care and how the staff at Emerald Elite match all their      clients with the right professional Caregiver.    Tune in and hear our ’Healing Ties’ Juke Box song       selected by our guest and  learn how Ernest and Emerald Elite Senior Home Health Care is creating Healing Ties all around us!  Cannot listen live?  NO WORRIES!  Healing Ties is available on demand on our Healing Ties iHeart Channel

To listen to the show live…Simply click here! 

To listen on demand at iHeart Radio, Simply click here! 

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52 Years And Still Going Strong!


Join us on Wednesday January 14th  at 7 pm EST on HealthCafeLive.com for an enlightening  conversation with Bob Collier and Chuck Hunziker.  What is so special about Bob and Chuck…EVERYTHING!  Bob and Chuck are both veterans, pillars in their community and they just happen to be a couple celebrating 52 years together!  Both in their 80’s, Bob and Chuck, never meant to be activists or plaintiffs in a lawsuit that would change Florida law, they just   happen to be two people who want the world to be a better place for all of us to live. This is a couple who is creating ‘Healing Ties’ all around us!

Can’t listen live on Wednesday?  NO Worries!  Healing Ties radio is available on demand on iHeartRadio/HealingTies by clicking here!

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It Would Have Been Awesome: But It Was!


“It Would Be Awesome To Get Married, Even If For One Day, Because It Would Solidify What We Already Know ” ~ Chris MacLellan November 2013

weddingringsWhen the clock struck 12:00 am on Tuesday, January 6th in the State of Florida, same-sex marriage became the law of this fine state: Hooray I said! Of course there will be people appalled by this decision to grant equal rights under the protection of marriage; bully to them! I wonder about those who ‘worry’ about granting equal rights to same-sex couples through marriage?  Do they need a ‘piece of paper’ to signify their love? We’ve heard the religious arguments, the family values arguments, heck, even heard that world might end if same-sex marriage became law. Last time I looked outside, the ground was still standing firm in this fine state of Florida.

Same sex couples have known for a zillion years that we do not need a ‘piece of paper’ to solidify our love; however that ‘piece of paper’ does solidify our equal rights.   Bigotry and hatred, unfortunately, will always be  around us, yet that ‘piece of paper’ provides clear protection  to all couples who have been together, one day, or 50+ years.  When you look closely into the laws, both federal and state, and see how laws are granted to those who are married, this ‘argument’  of  marriage equality comes into perspective.   As Americans, we do not often like to talk about death and dying, but all the rights granted by marriage are intertwined at the time of death.   Did you know that in every state of the nation that the next of kin for an adult is a spouse! Until you’ve been denied the right to be with the one that you love at the time of death, or asked, ‘Who Are You’ by medical staff, or have been told, ‘your not next of kin’ after your partner hasThe Bow Tie Guys passed away, you never fully grasp the inequality.

Yes, this day is bitter-sweet for me: I’m sure I am not alone.  Richard and I talked about getting married, and it would have been an awesome thing to do!   I can’t imagine us getting married would have deepened our love, it just would have solidified what was already known! Yet I do hope our Caregiving story, In Sickness and In Health: A Couple’s Final Journey and what happened to us along the way as an unmarried couple,  helped pave the way for this historic day in Florida.   In some small way, I am sure that it did! 

Yes, it would have been awesome to get married, but our life was awesome together, without that ‘piece of paper! It would have been awesome to gather our  family and friends together for a ceremony, but heck, they all knew that we loved each other, that we were committed to each other, without that ‘piece of paper.’  As one of my sisters said to me today, “Heck, you two were everything to each hands touchginother, but married.” She was so right, because, in the end, the only thing that matters is that love, care and commitment is the same for any two people who are committed to each other as one.  Our ‘piece of paper’ was imprinted in our hearts.

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Going For A Ride on Christmas Eve


 Love is what makes the ride worthwhile.

 Holiday HugsOne of the many things that I have missed this holiday season is the rides TLO and  I took to see the beautiful Christmas lights up and down Ocean Drive in Palm Beach and Broward County, Florida.  Usually our drives were filled with lots of chatter, or gossip, depending  on your point of view.  Yet one thing that we did during these rides that I miss the most is simply holding hands.  There is so many ways to express love, yet there is nothing more basic, more real, than to hold hands.  That gentle touch which bringshands comfort in so many ways, is missing this holiday season.
Christmas eve was always our special night.  Whether our pocket books were flush or not, we always made that evening, our evening.  We would sit down and plan for weeks about what posh restaurant where we would make our reservation.  Yet no matter20111225-083458.jpg where we decided to have dinner on Christmas eve, we always made plans to end the evening with a drive down Ocean Drive to see the Christmas lights.  Of course a nice ice cream cone was in order too!
I have not taken a drive down Ocean Drive this holiday season.  Yet I think I am going to take that ride on Christmas eve as a way to remember…as a way to celebrate our life together, as a way to create my own Healing Ties, but most of all, I am going to take that ride just to be thankful  for having the experience of love and being loved.  Caregiving is over for us; but love endures forever and love does make the ride worthwhile.
To all who are grieving this holiday season, I wish you peace, comfort and lots of Holiday Hugs!

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In Sickness and In Health: Saying Goodbye


Friends: As many of you know, Richard and I allowed two terrific journalist Diane Lade and Carline Jean from the Sun-Sentinel to follow us during our Caregiving journey. On Sunday September 28th, ironically, one year to the day when Richard and I were told that the cancer has spread to his spine, the Sun-Sentinel published the final story on our caregiving journey. Thank you to not only the Sun-Sentinel, Diane Lade, Carline Jean, but also to Mark Ketcham, Bryan C. Wilson and Jamie Evans for not only being with me on this special day, but also for being there during this entire experience.

My faith tells me that I will see Richard again; My mind tells me that he is forever pain-free; My heart tells me that he is right beside me.

The story below is copied from the Sun-Sentinel: The pictures in this post is how the story appeared in the newspaper edition; to see the online version click here! 

More online: Find the original series and video at SunSentinel.com/finaljourney and watch as Chris MacLellan says a final goodbye at SunSentinel.com/goodbye.

In Sickness and in Health: A couple’s final journey

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A new beginning: Navigating the challenges of moving on

By Diane Lade Staff Writer for the Sun-Sentinel: Photo’s by Carline Jean Staff Photographer for the Sun-Sentinel

Copyright © 2014, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

 

“A New Beginning” Chris MacLellan thought nothing could be harder than watching his partner, Bernard Richard Schiffer, slowly lose his life to cancer. Letting go once he was gone, however, was almost as difficult. The couple allowed the Sun Sentinel to share their story to shed light on issues gay and lesbian couples encounter at life’s end. Now,MacLellan faces new challenges, including how-to say goodbye to the man he had loved

Chris MacLellan was on a boat, heading into the Atlantic Ocean.

In the six months — to the day — since his partner, Bernard Richard Schiffer, died of esophageal cancer in a Fort Lauderdale hospice ward, so much had changed. He moved out of their small Deerfield Beach home. He left his job. And he was almost ready to start a new life in New Orléans.

Except for one thing. On this bright September morning, carrying a lovely, handmade paper box with the ashes of the man he’d loved for 11 years, MacLellan knew what he had to do next. On this last leg of their journey as caregiver and patient, he was here to say goodbye.

“It kind of completes my caregiving duties for him, so I can go back to just being his partner,” he said.

MacLellan, 57, and Schiffer, who died at 83, agreed last year to let the Sun Sentinel chronicle their final months together in hopes of bringing awareness to the special issues gay and lesbian couples face at the end of life. The April 13 story, “In Sickness and In Health,” drew a huge response from readers who identified with the pain of caring for a dying loved one. Many expressed surprise and outrage that a lack of marriage rights can encroach on a couple’s health care rights.

In Florida, where same-gender marriage is not recognized, partners can find the health care system hard to navigate.

Widowerhood, it turns out, is much the same way.

The green folder

With his partner gone, MacLellan felt alone in more ways than one.

His thoughts turned to their shared green folder, where the couple had kept legal documents like living wills, health care surrogate forms and powers of attorney. MacLellan and Schiffer had worried because gay and lesbian couples aren’t automatically granted the right to make medical decisions for each other — so the green folder accompanied them almost everywhere.

Now, MacLellan wondered: Whose name would replace Schiffer’s in the green folder? Who would be his surrogate?

MacLellan has no children. Although he has good relationships with his five siblings, all live hundreds of miles away.

And if he named a family member, what would happen in the event he fell in love again and another partner came into his life?

Still working as senior services coordinator at SunServe, a gay and lesbian social service agency in Wilton Manors, MacLellan in April turned to friend Katharine Campbell.

Campbell, a Wilton Manors psychotherapist who had been SunServe’s mental health program director, said she wasn’t surprised when MacLellan approached her with the life-and-death responsibility.

“I’ve been asked to do this so many times in South Florida,” said Campbell, 39, formerly a medical social worker.combined Sept 28_Page_2

She said relatives sometimes reject gay and lesbian seniors, or grow distant once they’re widowed, assuming grief isn’t part of losing a partner.

“We have an aging LGBT community, and they are starting to realize, in the state of Florida, they need these forms,” Campbell said.

MacLellan was relieved when she said yes.

The house

It took MacLellan a bit longer to make a decision about the house he had shared with Schiffer.

Right before meeting MacLellan in 2003, Schiffer had taken out a reverse mortgage on the house he had purchased 15 years ago with his late partner, in the Deerfield Beach Natura retirement community.

A reverse mortgage allows homeowners age 62 or older to draw money from the equity without paying it back. Like many seniors, Schiffer took this route when his medical bills began mounting.

The catch: When the senior borrower dies, the property’s inheritors may have to buy back the house from the lender if they want to keep it.

MacLellan wasn’t named on the deed. Under federal regulations passed in August, widowed spouses and partners who aren’t listed as borrowers on the loan can stay in the home until they die as long as they pay for taxes, insurance and upkeep. The rule applies to gay and heterosexual couples, to partnerships as well as legal marriages, said officials with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

This didn’t apply to MacLellan, however. The new rule affects only mortgages taken out on and after Aug. 4, 2014. He wouldn’t have qualified anyway for multiple reasons, including that he wasn’t with Schiffer at the time the loan was taken out.

MacLellan didn’t know if he wanted to repurchase, short sell or foreclose on the little white house, still filled with hundreds of Schiffer’s Wedgwood pottery pieces and knickknacks. The lender told him he had a year to decide, he said.

MacLellan drifted on the tide of his grief. He cut his hair, which he had left long because Schiffer liked it. He went back to work. A few men, knowing MacLellan was single again, asked him out for coffee or to see a movie, and he agreed half-heartedly.

On May 22, MacLellan found a bright yellow “No trespassing” sign posted on his front door.

The posting said the property was being claimed by the bank, and MacLellan panicked. He envisioned police arriving within hours and watching him as he scrambled to remove cherished mementos.combined 3 pages sept 28_Page_3

After making calls, MacLellan learned he still had until March 2015 to make a decision. He took down the yellow “No trespassing” notice and stored it in the green folder.

The scare jolted him out of the haze of his mourning, though. He wasn’t sure if he wanted to be tied down to the house. “Too many memories. And it needs a lot of work,” he said.

What sealed his decision was having to drive himself to the emergency room in mid-July, convinced he was having a heart attack. The doctors said it was stress.

MacLellan opted to walk away from the house and started packing in August. He sold all of Schiffer’s collectibles, the furniture and appliances — netting almost $10,000.

Among the few items MacLellan kept: some lamps and artwork he and Schiffer had purchased together, and an old album filled with black-and-white photos of Schiffer and his previous partner, one showing them standing in front of their then-new house with their real estate agent.

He also kept three ceramic Wedgwood eggs, one of which contains some of Schiffer’s ashes.

One neighbor, shortly after MacLellan was served his foreclosure summons, came over to say goodbye and offer condolences. The rest watched at a distance.

MacLellan decided to stay with a friend until leaving town. On Labor Day weekend, he locked up for the last time and drove away.

The move

Shedding the house opened a door for MacLellan, and he eagerly walked through.

Instead of staying in South Florida, with its large gay and lesbian senior population, or returning to his hometown of St. Louis, he turned his sights to New Orléans. That’s where one of his sisters, Gerri Cortello, lives.

Cortello, 65, said she knows little about her brother’s life as a gay man, although she had met Schiffer. It was a topic they never discussed, she said.

Cortello was stunned, when reading the Sun Sentinel’s story on Schiffer’s final months, by the challenges he and her brother had faced.

Cortello knows about caregiving. She was only 27 when her husband died of pancreatic and liver cancer, leaving her with four young children.

It hadn’t occurred to her, however, that a man dying of cancer and his longtime partner would be treated any differently than she and her husband had been 38 years ago.

“I hope that, somehow, we can get some laws changed. It’s not fair,” said Cortello. In Louisiana, like in Florida, gay marriage remains illegal.

Processing the death of someone you love has no timetable, Cortello said, whether your beloved is the same gender as you or not, whether you are young or old.

“You have to let people feel what they feel. There is no time frame. You feel so … cheated, I guess,” said Cortello.

What’s next?

MacLellan quit his job at SunServe, where he had worked for almost three years, as he finalized his moving plans in August.

His dream is to write a book about his end-of-life journey with Schiffer, and he’s trying to restart an Internet radio show about caregiving, called “Healing Ties from Chris MacLellan the Bow Tie Guy.”

While a social worker by training, MacLellan is eager to forge a new career in media and is working on a master’s degree in communications and leadership online through Washington-based Gonzaga University. He knows it may be challenging to make a living this way, he said, even with the help of staying with family.

Money is an issue. When Schiffer died, his $1,300 in monthly federal benefits were gone, too — more than half of the couple’s household income. Florida’s lesbian and gay couples, at this point, are not entitled to survivor Social Security benefits, even if they were legally married elsewhere, said Stephanie Schneider, a Plantation elder-law attorney who worked with MacLellan and Schiffer.

After paying off medical and funeral expenses, MacLellan said just $400 remained in Schiffer’s bank account.

In mid-August, about a dozen of MacLellan’s co-workers gathered for a farewell party at SunServe. One commented that MacLellan’s sudden, dramatic changes — selling everything, leaving town without a job or much of a nest egg, writing a book — sounded “kind of scary, kind of exciting.”

“Yes, it caught me by surprise,” said his former boss, SunServe Executive Director Mark Ketcham. “But I support [MacLellan] fully. There are some people who can’t get out of bed for two years when someone dies. But there are some who mourn and move on.”

Ketcham said SunServe is exploring new ways to serve South Florida’s aging gay and lesbian community, in part sparked by MacLellan’s experiences.

More than a year ago, the agency started a cultural competency program aimed at training nursing homes and health care institutions to be more welcoming to gay and lesbian patients. SunServe has since certified two assisted-living centers and a home health agency, said Jim Lopresti, SunServe’s director of clinical services who is handling the program.

In the Sun Sentinel story, MacLellan described an incident last year when he had rushed Schiffer to the Broward Health North emergency room but was ignored by staff as they questioned his partner.

Just days after the story, the hospital’s CEO asked MacLellan to meet with her managers and began arranging competency training for the emergency room. Hands-on sessions with the Broward Health North staff will begin later this year, Lopresti said.

SunServe also may begin a referral service to connect aging gay and lesbian seniors with gay-friendly providers and help manage their care, Ketcham said.

While MacLellan isn’t involved in these efforts, he already has plans to continue his work promoting awareness of issues facing gay and lesbian seniors and their caregivers. He’s booked to speak at an AARP-Broward Health system roundtable discussion on LGBT caregiving in Fort Lauderdale in November, and another conference on LGBT aging in Nebraska later this fall.

Would he ever return to South Florida permanently? “Who knows?” MacLellan said. “At this point, I can go in whatever direction life takes me.”

Letting go

MacLellan traveled light into his new life. He left the house completely empty, the hurricane shutters covering the windows. He shipped a few boxes of belongings to New Orléans, packing the rest into his small car.

One last decision remained: What to do with Schiffer’s ashes. “I just can’t carry him around with me, I can’t,” MacLellan said.

His early September departure date was nearing. One night, he literally woke up with the answer.

“Richard loved going on cruises. So I just felt this was the final cruise he could go on and be happy,” he said, explaining how he came to be on a boat heading out from the Boynton Beach inlet.

Three people accompanied him: Ketcham, his former SunServe co-worker Bryan Wilson and Jamie Evans, who had been Schiffer’s favorite home health aide. Evans had been the person Schiffer trusted to see him at his worst, when he needed someone to bathe him and help him change clothes.

Now Evans helped MacLellan tuck, inside the boat’s cabin, two beautiful handmade, biodegradable paper boxes, in place of urns. One contained Schiffer’s ashes. The other held the remains of Schiffer’s former partner, which had sat on a bookcase for more than a decade.

When the boat was 3 miles offshore, the captain idled the engine, turning the bow into the wind. The plan was to place the partner’s box in the water first, then Schiffer’s.

Along the way, MacLellan suddenly began questioning whether to leave Schiffer’s box sealed.

“Set him free,” Ketcham told MacLellan, insisting Schiffer would have wanted him to open the box.

The moment came, and MacLellan began to cry. “By doing this today, I am able to regain some of the strength I have lost over the past few months,” he said to those gathered. “It’s a fitting start to a new beginning.”

He first dropped Schiffer’s partner’s container overboard. It landed on the deep blue water with a soft plop, like a pillow on a bed. Then, taking the box holding all that was left of the man he’d loved in sickness and in health, MacLellan leaned over the boat’s side and opened the lid.

The contents flew out and settled on the waves, spreading out slowly. MacLellan let go of the now-empty white box. It remained visible for a long time, drifting toward the open sea as the boat headed back to shore.

dlade@sunsentinel.com or 954-356-4295954-356-4295

More online

Find the original series and video at SunSentinel.com/finaljourney and watch as Chris MacLellan says a final goodbye at SunSentinel.com/goodbye.

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Our Follow-Up Story. Life after death: Couple’s story sparks change


Cartier gold-rimmed aviator bifocals, classic disco era. A pair of immaculate, brilliant-green Florsheim slipons, men’s size 7, worn once yearly — on St. Patrick’s Day — for more than three decades. Bathrobes still hanging on a hook.

It’s taken Chris MacLellan about three months to prepare himself for this moment, the sorting through of everything that his partner, Bernard Richard Schiffer, left behind when he died March 9 of esophageal cancer at age 83.

There are the memories, unresolved feelings of loss and a sense of emptiness in the Deerfield Beach home they’d shared for 11 years.

There are the surprises, like the handwritten note tucked inside one of Schiffer’s alphabetized address books: “To love someone is to see the face of God.”

“I think Richard intended me to find the note. I think he left it for me,” said MacLellan, 57.

And there’s the legacy. The couple had agreed to let the Sun Sentinel chronicle their final months together in hopes of bringing awareness to the special challenges that lesbian and gay seniors face at the end of life. Since their story, “In Sickness and In Health, ran April 13, MacLellan has been overwhelmed by the response.

MacLellan has seen everything from letters of support or condolence to health care institutions pledging policy revisions.

Many who read the couple’s story expressed surprise that health care rights are so connected with marriage rights. Some gay couples said they are now considering marrying, even though they live in states like Florida that do not recognize such unions.

“I appreciate the people who have reached out, the kindness. It’s hard to believe that two ordinary people, who lived in a little house in Deerfield Beach, could make such an impact,” said MacLellan, who works as senior services coordinator for SunServe, a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning social service agency in Wilton Manors.

‘Who are you?’

In the story, MacLellan described rushing Schiffer to Broward Health North’s emergency room in September and being ignored by intake staff while they questioned his partner.

“When we first got to the ER, [the medical staff] paid 100 percent attention to Richard and didn’t really acknowledge my presence,” MacLellan said at the time. “When I tried to speak up, and give them more of the full story about what was happening, they said, ‘Who are you?'”

With Broward Health Staff

Speaking to upper level management at Broward Health North. Photos: Carline Jean, Sun-Sentinel Staff Photographer

A day after the story’s publication, MacLellan received a call from Broward Health North CEO Pauline Grant.

She invited MacLellan to speak at the hospital’s next management meeting.

“I was disappointed that we didn’t do a better job,” Grant said. “The emergency department is our front door, and we need to treat all of our families and patients with courtesy and respect.”

On May 15, MacLellan sat in a hospital conference room surrounded by almost 50 doctors, nurses and administrators, calmly retelling his experiences and taking questions. The atmosphere was serious but respectful.

“This is not right, and we are taking it as an opportunity to do better,” Grant said at the meeting.

Now, Broward Health North is working with SunServe to design sensitivity training for hospital employees, starting with those in the emergency room. In the past year, SunServe has been training nurses and health care workers in how to best treat LGBT patients, as well as analyze a facility’s practice for bias — such as using only “single, married and divorced” on records. SunServe has certified two assisted-living centers and a home health agency but had never worked with a hospital before, said the agency’s administrative director, Bryan Wilson.

Talking to Broward Health

Photos: Carline Jean Sun-Sentinel Staff Photographer

MacLellan will become one of the program’s trainers this summer, working with Broward Health North and other facilities.

There are few formal initiatives to make the health care system more welcoming to gay and lesbian patients, said Catherine Thurston, senior director of programs for SAGE, a national advocacy organization for LGBT elders that has helped train about 4,000 health care providers nationwide. More facilities and providers are willing to take steps, she added, as they recognize gay and lesbian seniors are among their patients.

 

 

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“In Sickness and In Health:” My Response to Florida’s Attorney General Pam Bondi comments on same-sex marriage


“Love, care and commitment is the same for any two people” – Chris MacLellan

Friends,

I’ve taken a break from blogging  in order to adjust to life without my partner, Bernard Richard Schiffer.  Your letters, emails, phone calls of support for me over the past few months is  most appreciated!

On Friday, May 30th I was alerted to the news that Florida’s Attorney General submitted a court document stating  that “same-sex marriages impose significant public harm.”  On Tuesday, June 3rd, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial page wrote, “State wrong in its fight against same-sex marriage” and referenced Richard and I, and our Caregiving story, “In Sickness and in Health A Couples Final Journey”.   In Wednesday’s Sun-Sentinel, Attorney General Pam Bondi responded to Tuesday’s editorial.

Upon reflection of these events, it is important for me to share a letter with you that I have mailed to Florida’s Attorney General, Pam Bondi in regards to her comments on same-sex marriage.

June 3, 2014

 The Honorable Pam Bondi

Attorney General of Florida

The Capitol PL-01

Tallahassee, FL 32399-1050

Dear Madam Attorney General:

I write this letter in the hopes of sharing a position contra to that identified in your recent court documents that recognizing same-sex marriages “would impose significant public harm.”

Maybe you heard about our story in the Sun-Sentinel a few weeks ago?  I’m told over 400,000 people have read our story, “In Sickness and Health A Couple’s Final Journey.”  As Diane Lade eloquently wrote, “being an older gay couple not recognized by law, navigating a system they feared could rob them of their ability to care for each other in sickness and in health.  After all, legal rights regarding death are intricately entwined with the privileges granted when people marry.”

We never intended that the love that my partner Bernard Richard Schiffer and I shared could become politicized, until I read your recent comments about how same-sex marriage “would impose significant public harm.’

I am fair-minded enough to know that each side has a right to argue your position in this fair state of Florida.  However to deny, ignore, wish away, pretend, assume and say that there are negative consequences in granting basic equal rights, indicates a fundamental disrespect  to gay rights and human dignity.  The arguments you use are the same for those who argued that ‘separate was equal’ and advocated for anti-miscegenation laws.    Like many before you who debated, and denied equality in our society, your current position on this critical issue will be sealed on the wrong side of history.

​I invite you to read our story in the Sun-Sentinel. In fact, I will even share the link with you: http://interactive.sun-sentinel.com/lgbt-dying-couple/.  You might also be interested in some of the readers’ comments that were posted on-line, too.  After reading our story, looking at the pictures and viewing the video, please tell me, the people in this great state of Florida, and everyone in the country,  how the love that Richard and I shared “would impose significant public harm?”

The late Maya Angelou said it right, “Love recognizes no barriers, it jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.” Once someone understands that love, care and commitment is the same for any two people who are joined together as one, then it becomes obvious why marriage equality is such an important issue in our society.

My prayer for you is that you will see that love is universal and not unique or limited to heterosexuals.

Respectfully,

Christopher J. MacLellan

Deerfield Beach, FL 33441

 

 

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Filed under advocacy, Intergenerational, Legal, LGBT, LGBT Couples, LGBT Seniors

‘In Sickness and In Health’


celebrations2

Greetings Friends,

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This past Sunday, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel published a story on Richard and me entitledIn Sickness & In Health’…(Click here for a link to the interactive story and video.) When we were approached to do this story, Richard and I thought long and hard about the thought of having two people follow us during some of our most intimate times in our life.  Not that our story is any different from those countless number of caregivers out there, however, we  both felt that telling the story from the prospective of a LGBT couple would demonstrate that its OK to love who you love.

Now, almost three full days since the article has been published, I am overwhelmed by the support that this article has generated and felt compelled to thank Diane Lade and Carline Jean from the Sun-Sentinel for telling our story is such a beautiful way.

Since ‘TLO’ made his life transition on March 9th, I have spent quite a bit of time listening to a CD entitled “Love Changes Everything” recorded and produced while I as a member of The Gateway Men’s Chorus in 2010.  At ‘TLO’  memorial service last week in Fort Lauderdale, I used three songs in this CD as part of his celebration of life.  Things That Never Die; Rise Above The Walls; and Somewhere Over The Rainbow.  If time would have permitted, I would have also played, In Whatever Time We Have, Who Will Love Me As I Am and Webber Love Trio.  I plan to incorporate these songs into TLO’s Celebration of Life service in St. Louis on Sunday April 27.

In one of my last blog post before TLO made is life transition, ‘Approaching The Final Destination’, I wrote, “Cancer is not the winner here, Love is the winner!”  Now after reading all the comments on-line and emails that I have received, along with the many phone calls that  have come in,  I now know why I started  to listening again to the CD  from the Gateway Men’s Chorus, because “Love Change Everything!” 

Click here to read our story and see our video:

In Sickness and in Health: A Couple’s Final Journey

Photos and video by Carline Jean

Story by Diane C. Lade

cjmrjoYou see…We might of had Cancer, but Cancer never ever had us…we had love!

 

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Filed under LGBT Caregiving, LGBT Couples, LGBT Seniors, oncology, TLO

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