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"Gray Marriage" Debated
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SAN FRANCISCO, California - Listening to the politically-charged public debate on gay marriage, one could easily assume that there are just two ways to bring a loving couple together, straight and gay. End of discussion. Case closed. "What about us?" asks Myrtle Beechconder, "What about our loving relationship?" She is speaking for herself and her sister, Getrude Beechconder, neither ever married, having lived together for twenty-five years. "We're in a committed, life-long relationship. It is certainly not a romantic relationship, but it's a relationship never the less. Yet we can't file a joint tax return, can't be on each other's insurance, can't visit each other in the hospital. We just want what other people in our circumstances enjoy."

The Beechconder's are in what has come to be known as a "gray marriage", a relationship solidified as they entered their graying years, that is apparently going to last until they die. Studies show that theirs is not an uncommon situation. By one estimate, seventeen percent of unmarried people over the age of 50 live with a person with whom they are not romantically involved that they consider their "life partner". If all of these people could file joint tax returns, enjoy shared health benefits, and other privileges available only to married couples, they would as a group save over four billion dollars a year.

"That's more than the middle-incomer's got in the child tax refund," said political commentator Sid Huling, "Somebody's gonna jump on this one and run with it. Whoever manages to pluck this plum can go ahead and change their magazine subscriptions to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue."

"Marriage is between a man and a woman, not a woman and her sister," said President Bush when asked about so-called 'gray marriage', "And I would find it very troubling if a bill suggesting otherwise were to cross my desk."

"I think our views of marriage may need to be reshuffled," countered newly-announced presidential candidate Ralph Nader, "We may need a religious marriage, which would be held for those entering a sacred, romantic relationship. And then a second, secular marriage which would carry the tax, insurance, and other benefits of traditional marriage. If people would like me to be in support of that, I think I can support it. Because I represent the people. Somebody's got to!"

"I'd really just like the free anniversary dinner at Manochek's Cafeteria," giggled Gertrude, "All that other mess is just fringes on the afghan."
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