Hopkins Couple Finds Security in Domestic Partner Registry
Alida Winternheimer and Scott Stillman were the first couple to sign up for the new domestic partner registry.
Alida Winternheimer and Scott Stillman didn’t want to be vulnerable.
There’s a Judith Butler essay Winternheimer teaches in her freshman English class that talks about vulnerability. People exist in relation to other people, Butler writes. Individuals on their own have no social or political power. Minority groups have a little more power. And majority groups have the most power.
Winternheimer and Stillman weren’t alone. They’d dated three years, have three children and just moved in together. But in the eyes of the law, they were still individuals. Single. Companionless. Unmarried.
There’s good reason to worry these days. Unemployment remains stubbornly high. A constant barrage of economic woes still fill the news. Health care costs are soaring.
Winternheimer and Stillman would like an actual wedding. But they just aren’t in the financial position to have one right now. There’s a recession, you know, Stillman said.
The city’s new domestic partner registry offered the committed couple a bit of security amid these tumultuous times. It allowed Stillman to bring Winternheimer onto his insurance plan. It guaranteed they’d be able to care for each other should anything bad happen. It allowed them to tell everyone that they are together, that just because they check the “single” box on their tax returns doesn’t mean they’re alone.
“For us to be able to declare ourselves as a couple, that increases our social power and decreases our vulnerability,” Winternheimer explained.
Like couples everywhere, Winternheimer and Stillman commemorated their commitment with meaningful rituals. They visited City Hall on the third anniversary of their first date. After receiving the certificate, they celebrated with a special dinner.
Their children didn’t understand the importance, but their friends quickly showed their support through congratulations on Facebook.
Yes, as Winternheimer teaches her classes, people exist in relationship to one another. With Hopkins’ new registry, there will be many more of those relationships to celebrate.
“It speaks of tolerance. It speaks of the kind of community I would want to live in,” Stillman said.