Separate and unequal
by Dinah Cardin
North Shore Sunday
Friday, March 26, 2004

Salem's Bob Murch and Gary Halteman considered a civil union when they became legal a few years ago in Vermont and Hawaii. But Murch says he was bitter and didn't want to do it unless it was legal and equal. The two never really thought that chance would come, which is why they were smart to get a lawyer, also a good friend, who has worked miracles to legally bind the two and their property together.

In the end, they know civil unions don't mean much, and certainly not outside the state.

"This would be great if I was a Massachusetts hermit," says Murch, adding that if something bad were to happen elsewhere, he wants to be able to visit Gary in the hospital.

The articulate Murch has contacted countless legislators, engaged them on the phone and has cc'd his letters to the White House and Mass Equality, the coalition leading the same-sex marriage fight, who put one of his letters on their Web site. He has also inspired many of his straight coworkers to contact legislators on his behalf.

To make his point that separate is not equal, Murch describes a scene:

"Can you imagine driving to work during rush hour and seeing two buses, one for white kids and one for black? They are both going to schools that are publicly funded. The courts have already said that's not OK. Who in their right mind would think that's OK?"

He is disappointed in legislators who he says have let their vote be ruled by thoughts of re-election and cowardice and prejudice, and who have simply shown a lack of leadership.

It comes down to not liking gay people, says Murch. You can't get fired anymore for being gay. You can adopt a child and the government will certainly take his "gay money" for taxes.

"This is the last straw," he says. "There's no rational reason why. It shows meyou don't think I'm equal."

Murch thinks it's important that the two get married as soon as it's possible, in case the right is taken away. He also believes once many marriages are performed and the scuttle simmers down, people will realize the "sky didn't fall" and will see that his marriage does not affect theirs.

"I do want to explore the rest of the country and world and none of (these otherproposals) hold up ... unless it's marriage."

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