I Love You (And Your Healthcare)

When he discovered he needed an expensive surgery, Michael Dempster entered into a domestic partnership with his girlfriend in order to access her employer’s healthcare plan. The registration fee was $35:

Ours is a domestic partnership of convenience, a commitment that changed in name only. Marriage is the serious step. The difference, in our case, is simple: We didn’t exchange vows before any loved ones or deities. We were half-hitched in May by a clerk named Rianuldo. But that’s underselling the process. There were traces of romance. She didn’t pause before signing the form, an indication, I thought, of trust or readiness or—I wasn’t sure. …

Implicitly, we’d said something like “I might marry (a less broken) you,” or even, “I will marry you,” but not yet “will you marry me.” Not that we gave it that much thought. We’re in love, happy, all that. If we break up, it’s as easy to dissolve a domestic partnership as it is to buy one. There’s a form online, a $27 fee. Efficient exes can bypass both fee and form by marrying someone else.