I am gay and have been living with my partner for more than 42 years. We are caring, loving people to our family, friends and neighbors. 

About three months ago, my partner was diagnosed with advanced liver cancer and it’s not looking good. Honestly, I don’t know how I could live without him. He is my rock and it’s always been me and him against the world. Now I’m looking at a life alone, a life without someone by my side. I have always been the domestic partner and my partner has always been the bread winner in our relationship and it has always worked for us, but now we are in hell trying to figure out our finances, trying to get all of our ducks in a row before he dies. Why are we in hell? Because we can’t get married here in Arizona, therefore we must hire an attorney to try to figure things out. 

For example, after my partner dies, I can’t collect his work pension to help me financially survive. If we were legally married, our situation would be so much simpler and we wouldn’t be going through this legal nightmare. 

To all of you out there who do not like gay people, all those who oppose our right to marry, I just want you to know that you win. Yes, you win. People like you want to punish us for being gay and for loving each other and you’ve done a good job. For more than 42 years, you have hurt us (both mentally and psychically) with your cruelty and prejudice and hate. I can’t even begin to tell you all of the horrible things we’ve had to endure because of you and you’ve done it all in the name of God. You must be so proud of yourselves. Anyway, I just want you to know that we forgive you.


Michael M. Ely,

Oro Valley

(11) comments

John Flanagan

Your circumstances are unfortunate and no one discounts your hurt feelings, however, millions of Americans oppose a redefinition of marriage and hold convictions that legal marriage must be one man and one woman. These values are not due to hatred of homosexuals, nor do social conservatives opposed to gay marriage desire to persecute gays in any way. The issue of your partner's pension and financial arrangements can be established through legal contracts. However, the redefinition of marriage is not necessary for this resolution. Countless numbers of homosexual couples do not even opt for marriage in states where it is legal, and settle inheritance issues and health care proxies through legal means. Again, your situation is painful, and many of us will empathize with you, while still opposing gay marriage. There is no hatred towards you or others in the gay community, and your anger is misdirected to broadly accuse those opposed to gay marriage as haters. In a free country, other voices also have freedom of expression and rights to an opposing point of view.

Daniel Darko

Although your empathy is appreciated, your naive view point isn't...
Michael & Spider wouldn't need an attorney if they were married or even civilly joined. You people who say that they oppose gay marriage but don't hate gays are blind and ignorant b/c you do and say it in the name of religious freedom, in the name of GOD. EQUAL IS EQUAL! The sooner you guys realize that the sooner EVERYONE can just get on with their lives in PEACE. I've known these two loving guys for nearly 30 years and don't know too many other people that deserve all the benefits that marriage would bring. Good, bad or indifferent, these have always been there for each other. You can disagree all you want, but do it in your name.

Eva Eldridge

I don't understand why the definition of marriage has to be between a man and a woman, why can't it be between two adult individuals and not dependent on gender? Marriage can be either a legal state or a legal and religious state, it shouldn't need to be both. The man/woman definition is based on a religious ideal. Truly it should be a human ideal irregardless of religion, race, or gender.


Dear John, This is not about "hurt feelings," rather this is about life and death and the fact that although this couple has been in a loving, committed relationship for 42 years, they dot n't have equal inheritance rights. People like you who want to believe that they have no animosity toward the LGBT community is simply disingenuous. Seriously, what impact would gay marriage have on you or the "millions" that you profess want to maintain marriage between a "man and a woman?" The TRUTH is it wouldn't change your life at all, but it would change the lives of so many who simply want the same rights that you apparently take for granted. If we truly are a nation who heralds freedom, then all of of our citizens deserve the freedom to marry and thereby all of the rights that follow.


This is not who we are America, not what we stood for when we were established, and not where we want to be today. Somehow parts of our country have let despotic cult leaders masquerading as Godly people become powerful enough to sway a political geography. And this stops the process of freedom. It has created a system of "Animal Farming" where somehow there are those that have become more equal than others. I have had enough. People are people. If they love each other then by God what happens behind closed doors is their own damned business, and so what. Sending love and prayers gents.

John Flanagan

I have read the thoughtful comments of others here, but you will find few on either side of this issue agreeing. At best we can agree to disagree on the subject of gay marriage. But please...do not say it is sanctioned by God or not mentioned by Jesus as a justification for it. That is a wholly false premise. God created men and women for marriage, with absolutely no intention implied or stated to include same gender relationships. The Lord changed water into wine at the wedding feast recorded in scripture, and I do not believe He would even show up if it were a same sex wedding. Regardless of the views some of you have shared in favor of gay marriage, it is still wrong. Right and wrong are not things we can dispense with based on the winds of social acceptability in a given society.


Dear John, This is what I'm talking about here, people using their personal religion to bash others and to deny them equal rights in our country (the same people who supported the recent AZ bill that would have allowed businesses to deny gay people services). The god you reference says that gay people are and abomination and should be stoned to death on the spot. How is that not hateful? My version of God is a loving god who loves all of us whether we be gay and straight. As to marriage in this great country of ours, you state that millions of people oppose gay marriage as though that makes it right, but you forget about the millions of people who embrace marriage equality (and they are in the majority). Anyway, I just want to thank you and all the people who have responded to my letter. I think it's good that we are having this discussion. As to my partner, I also want to thank all the kind people who have supported us through this rough time.


As I read the Explorer this week I was moved and saddened by the letter from Mr Ely. You see, I was one of the haters. I was taught that gays are an abomination to God and that they were going to hell, that they chose a lifestyle that defies nature and is not normal, therefore did not deserve common decency, respect or civility that everyone else deserved. They sure were not allowed to enjoy the benefits of "normal" people; including drunk, drug addicted, abusive or neglectful parents and married couples.

This coming from a family that is filled with hate, looks for horrible things in others to point out and exploit and from a non existent father, mostly in jail my entire life and a mother that was way beyond abusive and neglectful.

My entire first 18 years I was abused in every way possible, neglected, put in state care where I was abused even more. I was bullied and beat up in school every year and no one stood up for me. My wrong doing? My mother was VERY strictly protestant and would beat me in the name of religion, quoting the Bible "spare the rod, spoil the child" I contemplated suicide many times.

I still have demons I deal with, I have nightmares almost every night, I have social issues, PTSD and social anxiety.

The reason I am sharing this with you is because, after reading your letter, I realized that religion has been used to commit horrendous atrocities against others and no one is immune. As a gay person, you have had to deal with abuse that no one should have to ever endure; because of the person you choose to bring in to your life.

Your letter brought tears to my eyes. It brought back memories I would rather forget, but most importantly, a light bulb went off and I feel so horrible for every anti gay thing I have ever said, any mistreatment I have ever inflicted (I have NEVER been physical, I was just mean) I am so sorry to you and all other gay Americans. You deserve the same respect and rights as every other American and I sincerely apologize on behalf of all the other haters, even i f they have not realized they are discriminating haters.

P.S. I am a CNA and if there is ANYTHING I can do to make your partner's and your lives easier during this tough time, as you fight for his life, I will gladly volunteer (cleaning, laundry, companion, WHATEVER)



Dearest Liz, Reading your response to my letter moved me to tears. I'm so sorry that you had such an awful time growing up and I wish you nothing but happiness and healing in your adult life. I think that all of us, at some time in our lives, have said and done things we now regret, but the important thing is that we recognize our mistakes and strive to be better people, to try to understand and love everyone around us. Thank you for your kind offer of support. Fortunately for us, we are surrounded by loving friends (both gay and straight) who have rallied to our side. You sound like a beautiful person, Liz. Stay strong for yourself and others.

A Citizen

Thank you for your moving letter. I am truly sorry for the position that we, as a society, have put you and your partner in. We have failed you. I am grateful you are willing to put yourself out there in our town; maybe it will help accelerate the change for the better that is undoubtedly occurring., so future generations will not have to bear your burden.

As a devout - albeit progressive - Christian myself, I have always been perplexed by arguments against gay marriage based on the scripture. We've departed from what the Bible says at so many points and made society a better place. Here are three examples:

(1) "I permit no woman to teach or have authority over men; she is to keep silent." Timothy 2:11

(2) "When two men are fighting and the wife of one of them intervenes to drag her husband clear of his opponent, if she puts out her hand and catches hold of the man by his privates, you must cut off her hand and show her no mercy." Deut. 25:11

(3) "Whoever utters the name of the Lord must be put to death. The whole community must stone him, whether alien or native. If he utters the name, he must be put to death." Leviticus 24:16


Dear John, I hope that people on either side of the "issue" of gay marriage can at least agree that our country was founded on the premise of a separation of church and state. Marriage is a state contract between two people. Granted, some perform their marriage in a church setting, but many others do not. Some simply go to a courthouse as I and my husband did 40 years ago. Others get married at the beach, the park, or in a backyard to profess their commitment to one another. Nevertheless, we all must file our paperwork with the state once we are married. The point is that marriage does not have a foundation in religion. The pertinent and legitimate issue that was raised by Michael Ely is although they have been in essence "married" to each other for 42 years, they do not have equal legal rights when it comes to receiving his spouse's pension. I am assuming that you are of the same generation as I am, as well as, is this couple. Fortunately, the majority of younger generation Christians support the rights of the LGBT community as they are returning to the true message of Jesus and that is to love one another. My hope is that you will find it in your heart to do the same.

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