The little things

Seymour Lefco, who was, among many other, much more important things, a supporter of my school board work, died on Monday.

I was at his house once, when I was campaigning. He had already heard about me and given my campaign a check, so I guess I got his vote. He invited me in and I met his wife, Rachel, and we talked about vouchers. He considered Milwaukee’s school voucher program a political Frankenstein’s monster, cobbled together from bits and pieces of various conservative and neoliberal agendas, and one that he particularly wanted to skewer on the business end of a pitchfork.

Seymour Lefco was my kind of citizen: one who delved deeply into the public debate and who stayed actively involved until the end. I wish there were more Seymour Lefcos in the world.

Next to the article was something else that caught my eye: an obituary for a man I’ll just call Stephen. The very brief memorial is headlined, “In Loving Memory of My Partner,” and is signed by Stephen’s partner, Michael.

As a lesbian involved in the Fair Wisconsin campaign to defeat the upcoming constitutional ban on civil unions and gay marriage, I feel for Michael. I don’t know anything else about his relationship, but I do know that when Stephen died, it was in a country where his partner can count on very little: no automatic inheritance of property, no guaranteed rights to make funeral decisions, no transfer of Social Security benefits — all things that straight couples would take for granted.

This little message from Michael to Stephen is a small beacon of love through the darkness of discrimination. It’s painful to accept the loss of a loved one, but it’s even harder when you’re being told that your loving relationship is invalid in the eyes of the law.

My deep sympathy to Rachel, and to Michael.

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