Ohio Officials Ordered To Recognize Gay Couple’s Marriage

Married on July 11 in Maryland, John Arthur is in hospice care and “certain to die soon.” He and his husband have sued to ensure their marriage is recognized by Ohio officials at Arthur’s death.

By Chris Geidner

A federal judge in Ohio ordered state officials Monday to recognize the marriage of two men that was performed in Maryland on the death certificate of an Ohio resident in hospice care who the judge says “is certain to die soon.”

John Arthur & husband“The end result here and now is that the local Ohio Registrar of death certificates is hereby ORDERED not to accept for recording a death certificate for John Arthur that does not record Mr. Arthur’s status at death as ‘married’ and James Obergefell as his ‘surviving spouse,’” Judge Timothy Black wrote in granting the couple a temporary restraining order Monday. The order is in effect until 5 p.m. Aug. 5, unless the court extends the order at a later date.

“By treating lawful same sex marriages differently than it treats lawful opposite sex

marriages,” the judge concluded, Ohio’s 2004 constitutional amendment banning recognition of same-sex couples’ marriages and Ohio’s statute addressing the same issue “likely violate[] the United States Constitution.”

The couple’s attorney, Al Gerhardstein, said in a statement, “This order is a major step on the march toward marriage equality in Ohio.”

Addressing the constitutional question, Black explained, “Although the law has long recognized that marriage and domestic relations are matters generally left to the states, the restrictions imposed on marriage by states, however, must nonetheless comply with the [U.S.] Constitution.”

To that end, the court examined the Supreme Court’s decision striking down part of the Defense of Marriage Act this June in United States v. Windsor, the 1996 decision in Romer v. Evans, and in other decisions addressing differential treatment found to be unconstitutional under the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection of the laws.

Looking at Ohio’s bans on recognizing same-sex couples’ out-of-state marriages, while acknowledging its recognition of the marriages of opposite-sex couples who would not be allowed to marry in Ohio, Black concluded, “The purpose served by treating same-sex married couples differently than opposite-sex married couples is the same improper purpose that failed in Windsor and in Romer: ‘to impose inequality’ and to make gay citizens unequal under the law.”

According to the order, Obergefell and Arthur live in Cincinnati, Ohio, and “have been living together in a committed and intimate relationship for more than twenty years.” The order also notes “they were very recently legally married in the state of Maryland pursuant to the laws of Maryland recognizing same sex marriage.”

The order notes that Arthur is dying of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), which prompted the couple to fly to Maryland on July 11 to get married.

As Black put it, the couple “traveled to Maryland in a special jet equipped with medical equipment and a medical staff necessary to serve Mr. Arthur’s needs, whereupon Plaintiffs were married in the jet as it sat on the tarmac in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. They returned to Cincinnati that same day.”

The lawsuit seeking to have the couple’s marriage recognized was filed against Gov. John Kasich and other state and local officials on July 19.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office defended the state’s laws in filings with the court on Monday, but Cincinnati city lawyers representing Dr. Camille Jones, the vital statistics registrar for the city, declined to defend the law, telling the court, “The City will not defend Ohio’s discriminatory ban on same-sex marriages,but the City’s vital statistics registrar is bound to follow Ohio law until that law is changed or overturned.”

Asked about the court’s issuance of the order on Monday evening, Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols told BuzzFeed, “We don’t comment on pending litigation other than to say the that the governor believes that marriage is between a man and a woman.”

Complete Article HERE!

To get married, they left Ohio

Crossroads Hospice offers the gift of a perfect day to its patients, a chance for the dying to do something they’ve always dreamed of. One man asked to ride an Indian motorcycle for his 100th birthday; an extended family went on a bus tour to view Christmas lights; a woman flew to Florida to stick her feet in the sand one last time, then died three hours after she came home.

 

 

John Arthur’s been a patient of Crossroads since March, but it wasn’t until June 26 that he settled on his notion of a perfect day. That morning the U.S. Supreme Court struck down portions of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. As he watched the announcement from a medical bed in his Over-the-Rhine condo, Arthur and his partner of 20 years, Jim Obergefell, decided that they wanted to marry.

photo2A wedding for the couple would not be easy. Because same-sex marriage is illegal in Ohio, and because the Supreme Court ruling left marriage bans at the state level intact, Arthur and Obergefell couldn’t marry here. The prospect of travel was difficult because Arthur is bedridden with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, a progressive neurological disease that robs patients of their ability to walk, talk and eventually breathe. Within minutes of the Supreme Court decision, the couple started working the phones, email and social media to figure out how they might legally wed.

New York was the closest to drive to, but they’d both need to be there for the license and return for the wedding. Out, they decided.

California and Washington, and the knot of northeastern states that have legalized same-sex marriage, were too far.

Maryland required only one partner to come for the license. Then a 48-hour waiting period.

It was an hour and 10-minute flight.

This might work, they decided: A destination wedding in Baltimore.

Then there was the cost.

Arthur has been unable to leave the couple’s home since March, and he’d need a medical transport plane that could accommodate a stretcher. Though hospice could provide some services, like the ambulance ride to the airport, it couldn’t cover the $12,700 cost of renting such a plane.

Obergefell asked friends if they had any connections. Instead donations poured in from relatives, friends, former co-workers, even someone in Ireland they’d met on a cruise. They covered enough of the cost to make the trip possible.

Obergefell flew to Baltimore on Tuesday, obtained the marriage license and flew back a few hours later.

And then on Thursday Arthur and Obergefell boarded a Lear jet at Lunken Airport with a nurse, two pilots trained in emergency medicine, and Arthur’s aunt, Paulette Roberts, who’d been ordained to perform weddings with the hope that she’d someday get to do theirs.

They touched down in Baltimore at 10:39 a.m. The plane parked off the runway and the pilots stepped outside.

And then, in the cramped cabin of the jet, Obergefell seated next to Arthur’s stretcher, the couple turned to each other and held hands. Roberts sat behind them and began to speak.photo3

“When I obtained ordination and license to marry people, I called my nephew John and told him I would go anywhere, anytime to officiate at his and Jim’s marriage,” she said. “He and Jim both said no. They were married to each other in their eyes, but that they would not take part in a wedding ceremony until the law of the land declared they were equal to other couples.”

“Twenty-six months ago John was diagnosed with ALS,” she continued. “Since then the amazing relationship between John and Jim has become even closer, even more devoted, even more loving – and it was pretty damn great before John became ill.”

Obergefell spoke, choking back tears. They exchanged rings. Roberts pronounced them husband and husband, and Obergefell leaned over to Arthur and kissed him.

“Let us all rejoice,” Roberts said, as she leaned forward to hug them both. “I love you very much.”

“That was beautiful,” Arthur responded, his voice thickened and slowed by his disease. “And thank you for including the word ‘damn.’ ”

The 7 1/2 minute ceremony was over, and as they celebrated with Champagne, the pilots climbed back in and prepared to leave. After 56 minutes on the ground they were headed back to Cincinnati, matching rings on their left hands, finally married after 20 years, six months and 11 days together.

“I’m overjoyed,” Arthur said. “I’m very proud to be an American and be able to openly share my love for the record. I feel like the luckiest guy in the world.”

Arthur and Obergefell’s story is a dramatic example of what gay couples who live in states that don’t recognize same-sex marriage are experiencing in the wake of the Supreme Court’s DOMA decision. Trapped between federal law that recognizes such unions and state laws that don’t, they are unsure what their next move should be.

Like Arthur and Obergefell, many of them never expected to have a chance to wed in their lifetimes. But now with the prospect of marriage so close, they are impatient with the prospect of waiting still longer for their state to allow it.

Arthur’s terminal illness added urgency to the questions that many gay couples without the protection of marriage grapple with. Ask such couples why they want to get married, and after the jokes about housewares and bridesmaids subside, the talk often turns to the dark what-ifs that reside at the end of life.

photo4What if my partner’s in cardiac arrest and the emergency-room staff won’t let me in? What if my partner’s family challenges my custody of our son after she’s gone? What if, as in the case of the DOMA plaintiff, my partner dies and I owe $363,000 in estate taxes instead of the nothing that a heterosexual spouse would owe?

Arthur’s ALS diagnosis intruded on the life the couple had carefully built together over two decades. Though they met twice, rather unremarkably, through a friend in 1992, at Arthur’s New Year’s Eve party that year they experienced what they call “love at third sight.” Within seven weeks they had exchanged rings, and that summer they moved in together. “Jim came to our wild New Year’s Eve party,” Arthur said, “and he never left.”

Through new houses, job changes and extensive travel, they accumulated dozens of close friends and enjoyed the company of family. As same-sex marriage became legal in a handful of states, people asked if they’d considered going somewhere to marry, but the notion of a symbolic ceremony with no tangible benefit didn’t appeal to them. Even less appealing was the idea of moving somewhere new simply to enjoy the right to be married.

“Jim and I met here in Cincinnati. We have established our friends and family circle here,” says Arthur. “Even though we thrive on local conflicts and the absurdity of what happens in the great state of Ohio, we’ve never seriously considered moving because to move we wouldn’t have our social base. So it’s never been a real consideration.”

“And we both love Cincinnati. It’s a great city to live in,” adds Obergefell, who works as a consultant for an IT company. “We can’t imagine living anywhere else. And leaving the support network we have wasn’t really an option. Since his diagnosis that’s been even more important because our friends our family have been unbelievably supportive and helpful, and it’s made this horrible situation with ALS much more bearable, and enjoyable, amazingly enough.”

In the two-plus years since the diagnosis, Arthur has progressed from a cane to a walker to a manual wheelchair and then a motorized one. For a time the couple drove a minivan, a vehicle they never dreamed they’d own, because it was easier for John to get in and out of it. Since the spring they’ve relied on friends to come by for visits, as leaving the house finally became too difficult.

They’ve been touched by small kindnesses at every turn: Arthur’s former babysitter who’s corresponded regularly with him, a friend’s five-year-old who drew a picture of the couple that’s now framed on the wall, the friends who’ve shown up en masse for a brief hour or two of levity.

The couple, both 47, belong to a sandwich generation when it comes to gay rights, wedged between previous generations who were often firmly closeted, and younger gays and lesbians who have grown up seeing same-sex couples on television. Arthur and Obergefell say they’ve never known discrimination personally, never had a family member reject them because of their sexual orientation, never considered it more than a small part of who they are.

“We’ve always been out at work,” Arthur said. “But we’ve never been our own personal Pride parade either,” Obergefell added.

But the lack of a marriage license took on new meaning in light of the ALS diagnosis. The disease attacks the nerve cells that control the muscles we move voluntarily. As the nerve cells die, patients are unable to move their arms or legs; eventually the muscles that control breathing are also affected. It is a cruel and relentless disease that kills most patients between two and five years after diagnosis. There is no cure.

Arthur’s symptoms began innocently enough in the spring of 2011, with a left foot that seemed to drag and slap. The couple was preparing for a trip to Finland to visit exchange students they’d hosted. When they returned he went to their primary-care doctor, who sent him to a neurologist. Though there is no definitive test for ALS, the neurologist eliminated other possibilities and told Arthur his conclusion.

“I had no idea that would be the diagnosis. It caught me by surprise,” he says, tearing up at the memory. “I just remember I came in the door and turned to Jim and said, ‘I have ALS.’ Without even anything close to a full understanding of the implications, it was a very painful moment.”

Health insurance had been an ongoing issue for the couple, as some employers allowed them to share a policy and others didn’t. But insurance and other health-related matters suddenly took on added significance. Still reeling from the news, they had to prepare powers of attorney and other legal documents designed to circumvent the kinds of problems every unmarried couple fears.

They decided to sell their two-story condo and move to a single story, and they put the new place in Obergefell’s name alone to avoid any future probate problems. Obergefell’s employer has allowed him to work from home, but he has had no protection under the federal Family Medical Leave Act.

It’s unclear whether that will change now that they are married. No one knows what federal benefits couples would qualify for if they live in states that don’t recognize their marriages. Some benefits are granted based on where a couple lives, and others on where they were married. Leaving a state of residence that bans gay marriage to marry in one that allows it could further complicate things. The federal government is working now to untangle the confusion, but it could be years before it’s all sorted out.

Critics of allowing same-sex marriage argue that there are ways to extend legal protections to couples, to make sure they are never shut out of a partner’s hospital room or taxed extra because of their status, without changing the meaning that marriage has held for centuries. They want to create a “separate but equal” category for gay couples, a strategy that’s never succeeded in other questions of civil rights.

But in addition to rights, there is the question of recognition. To have one’s relationship viewed as equal to those of straight couples, to be able to check “married” on surveys and tax returns, is as important as the rights and protections that a valid marriage confers.

“In our minds we’ve always been married, but now I can actually say John’s my husband and have a piece of paper, and a Supreme Court ruling, and a federal government that says yes, he is your husband,” said Obergefell. “I’m overjoyed that we’ll now have a piece of paper that confirms what we’ve always known in our hearts – that we’re an old, married couple who still love each other.”

Next year Ohioans will likely have the chance to vote on whether to repeal the 2004 ban on gay marriage and allow same-sex couples to marry here. There are economic arguments in favor of repealing the ban, as many large companies prefer an environment in which all their employees enjoy the same rights. There is the argument that society benefits when it encourages loving, committed relationships and helps them flourish. And as Ohio combats brain drain, repealing the ban on same-sex marriage could help make the state more attractive to the many young adults who now leave for urban centers out of state.

But we believe this is the strongest argument of all: That couples who are already fulfilling the responsibilities of marriage, caring for each other in sickness and in health, should enjoy the privileges of marriage as well. They should be able to depend on the rights that many of us take for granted. They should be able to raise their children without having to carry adoption papers on a flash drive around their neck, and own property together without worry of what will happen to it upon death. They should be able to marry in the presence of family and friends, no matter where they live, and finally feel like full citizens no matter whom they love.

Complete Article HERE!

Live As If You Are Dying

I’m delighted to share with you a new review of The Amateur’s Guide To Death And Dying. It appears on the blog of Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Mandy Traut.

Mandy Traut

Just like the famous Tim McGraw song, I good friend of mine recently reminded me to “live like I was dying.” Many of you know that I was a recent guest on Dr. Dick’s Sex Advice: Sex Advice with an Edge (Sex Wisdom Show). Well, my association with “Dr. Dick” (AKA Dr. Richard Wagner) developed into a good friendship. I see him as a role model and mentor. So, I was quite privileged when he asked me to review his new book, “The Amateur’s Guide to Death & Dying: Enhancing the End of Life.”

Richard is, not only a renowned sexologist – Board Certified by the American College of Sexologists, The American Board of Sexology, and The American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists, he is the founder and former Executive Director of the nonprofit organization, PARADIGM; “Enhancing Life Near Death — an outreach and resource for terminally ill, chronically ill, elder and dying people.”AGDD_front cover

His book, “The Amateur’s Guide to Death & Dying: Enhancing the End of Life,” is developed to be a workbook for terminally ill patients going through the process of dying. But, the reader realizes early on that one need not be terminally ill to follow the exercises. As Richard reminds us, we all die at some point. Richard introduces the concept of “proactive dying,” referring to an attitude whereby one addresses one’s mortality head-on. Richard illustrates how honest discussions, education and preparation, and support from family and friends, can really benefit all of us. Rather than present a typical workbook with a sequence of exercises, Richard has adapted his own workshop, associated with PARADIGM INC, into written form! You, the reader, become a participant in his workshop as you explore questions of mortality, loss, sickness, and isolation. Eventually, you and your fellow participants come to see death as a part of life.

Whether going through the group process of exploring various issues, listening to presentations on preparing Estates and Advanced Directives, or discussing the stigma of talking about death and dying in the first place, the reader gets to reflect on his/her own thoughts and feelings about death and learns how to be prepared for end-of-life concerns. Richard normalizes death in the most compassionate, authentic, and empathic way. I appreciated that he, as a facilitator, found a balance between professionalism and disclosing his own personal stories, fears, hopes, and dreams to the group. Additionally, reading his book, I, not only reflected on my own fears related to death, but I strangely began to relate and befriend the other participants in the group. I felt as if I were walking the journey with them. It was humbling and moving, as well as educational and informative.

As the group workshop was coming to an end one of the participants read a poem with the theme of “live as if you are dying.” As I read (imagining myself in the room with everyone else), tears welled up in my eyes. By now, I knew the group members pretty well. I empathized with their fears, their anger, and their sense of loss. Then, I thought of my own life and relationships. Inwardly, I thought, “How often do we go through life on automatic?” It is true: Like sleep-walkers, we miss the little moments that make life precious. It takes a terminal illness or a traumatic event to wake most of us up!

In the end, I completed “The Amateur’s Guide to Dying” with several take-aways: To my readers and clients alike, I hope that you can ponder these ideas and see how they fit in your own lives.

1) It is smart to explore your end-of-life wishes while you are healthy and can make these important decisions.

2) Live as if you are dying – do not take one breath – one hug – one smile – for granted. After all, sometimes death comes when we least expect it.

3) Honor and cultivate your relationships – our relationships are at the core of a meaningful, worthwhile life.

One last word: Thank you, Richard for sharing such a fresh, revolutionary perspective with the rest of us. This is not an easy subject for most of us to swallow.

Complete Article HERE!

After 6 Decades of Marriage, No More Sex but Plenty of Intimacy

“I see friends’ spouses die,” a husband writes, “and it scares me. Losing my wife is my biggest fear.”

By CONOR FRIEDERSDORF

My article “Is My Marriage That Different from My Grandparents Marriage?” solicited email from older, married readers willing to describe the institution as they see it. What follows is one of several responses I’d like to share. Another is here. I’d love to read more responses, especially from women, who’ve yet to send any. They can be emailed to the address at the bottom of the item.

The reader writes:

My wife and I were born the same year during the Great Depression. We married at 19. We are still married and very much loving partners. Even though intercourse has gradually gone away, intimacy hasn’t.

coupleWould we have married later had attitudes toward sex been different? Perhaps. I am sure that mattered. I remember being refused condoms when I tried to buy them at the small town drug store where my college was located.

We have five children.

Like many in her generation, my wife stayed home with the kids till the last one was in school. She then completed her BA and MA degrees and had a very successful career. As an academic who came on the market during a time of educator shortage, I had the opportunity to move easily. I changed high school jobs three times before moving to complete my Ph.D. After that, we moved five times for professional reasons. The last, from abroad back to the U.S., was to follow a professional opportunity for my wife. We had moved abroad partly because she was unhappy at her job. In her late fifties, a foreign adventure also seemed attractive, and the salary was high.

We have an old fashioned division of labor. She does most of the cooking and house work. I manage the family finances and budgets. We do have a twice weekly cleaning person who does the heavy stuff. We also eat out four or five times a week. We travel three months each year, and I do all the planning and arranging for that.

RELATED STORY

What 4 Decades of Marriage Taught a Grateful Husband
How is our generation’s notion of marriage different? First, we expected to stay married. We would have never thought about it not working out. Second, we didn’t think about individual payoffs, but about being part of a unit, a family. We planned together and talked over any decision about what we did and where we went. I remember teaching a public speaking class and hearing, for the first time, a young woman speak about Betty Friedan and the need for woman to find fulfillment. I went home and asked my wife and her friend, also a young mother, if they were fulfilled. They laughed and said they were too busy to think about it. I don’t think a young woman now would say that.

I wasn’t thinking about fulfillment either. I had a career to build and a family to support. I never asked whether I was getting more personally out of our marriage than I was putting in. That too is a more contemporary thought. We were a unit, a family. Our fulfillment was joint. That continued after the kids were gone.

Prior to the pill, kids came when they did. Planning children wasn’t the way it is now. The diaphragm wasn’t a very good method of birth control. Our kids came within a dozen years. I often wonder how my wife managed to do what she did during those days. I always came home, but I was also focused on getting ahead professionally. We ate dinner as a family and did lots of things as a family. We played games. We sang as we drove places. A lot of the “Father Knows Best” things.

As an aside: as part of my academic work, I read of a focus group of inner city kids in Miami. They expected to die very young. They also used Saran Wrap as protection during intercourse. The researcher showed them old “Father Knows Best” and “Leave It To Beaver” shows. They liked what they saw because they said it would be so safe.

I can’t imagine how awful it would be, as I experience the inevitable physical changes of aging, to be doing it alone. In a short play I recently wrote, one old man says to another, “Morning stiffness doesn’t mean what it used to.” The other replies “Neither does get up and go.” We share so much history. We do little things for one another. I rub her feet; she trims my toe nails. We also share so many little jokes. It is impossible to tell anyone how often, just eating breakfast or driving to the store, we find ourselves laughing at something together. I see friends’ spouses die, and it scares me. Losing my wife is my biggest fear. I’m not sure how I would go on with out her. I don’t understand what it would be like to live alone without someone to talk to and chuckle with.

Warm good wishes,

[name withheld on request]

p.s. If I didn’t say in the original that I love her deeply, you might add that. Young folks need to know that love can continue and grow. I’ve written a couple of plays where the lovers are no longer kids. It’s amusing when young people, despite the evidence of their own existence, don’t think their parents know about love and sex.

Complete Article HERE!

Beyond “The Sessions”: Intimacy at end of life

I did a little follow-up interview with the wonderful people at Life Matters Media.

November 16, 2012
Beyond “The Sessions”: Intimacy at end of life
Dr. Richard Wagner

Dr. Richard Wagner, a Seattle based clinical sexologist, spoke with Life Matters Media this week about the many positive effects physical intimacy may have on the terminally ill. As the critically acclaimed film The Sessions has brought this topic to the forefront, it has left in its wake many issues in which to delve deeper. Wagner, a former Roman Catholic priest, is the author of “The Amateur’s Guide to Death and Dying: Enhancing the End of Life.” He has practiced sex therapy and relationship counseling for more than three decades.

You have a degree in theology from the Jesuit School at Berkeley, and you’re a former priest. How did you get involved with end of life and intimacy?

I was a Catholic priest for 20 years. While that wasn’t a particularly happy association, I’m the only Catholic priest in the world with a doctorate in clinical sexology. I wrote my doctoral thesis on the sexual attitudes and behaviors of gay priests in the active ministry in 1981. That was long before the Church was willing to acknowledge there was even such a thing as a gay priest. The fallout from this research blew my ministry out of the water.

In 1981, the same year I finished my doctorate, a remarkable thing was happening to gay men in San Francisco and elsewhere. They were dying of some mysterious disease. Some speculated that this was God’s retribution for the gay lifestyle. How quickly we leap to that conclusion when we are ashamed and frightened. Most of my friends died in the first wave, between 1981-85. None of us knew what to do. My friends looked to me for guidance, since I had a background in psychotherapy and religion. But, to tell you the truth, I was just as lost as anyone.

I found myself sitting with all these men as they were dying. It was ghastly. But sitting with death was precisely what I needed to do. It helped me to desensitize death and prepared me for what was to come. I realized early on that dying in America is often a very lonely and very passive affair.

I wrote “The Amateur’s Guide” because of the work I was doing with sick, elder and dying people – not just AIDS patients. I saw this pattern develop; the end of life is more difficult than it needed to be. In response I founded Paradigm, a nonprofit organization with an outreach to enhance life near death for sick, elder, and dying people. It provided an opportunity for participants to discuss end of life concerns and get the support they needed to fully live the end of their life. The program was so successful; I decided to put the program in book form.

Let’s talk about intimacy and end of life care.

Just because someone is dying doesn’t mean that they have stopped being human. One of the things that humans need in their life is intimacy. And sometimes that intimacy involves genital sexuality. But this concern is hardly ever talked about in terms of the end of life, nor is it included in disease-based discussions. I mean, when is the last time you heard someone talk about the sexual concerns of people with cancer or heart disease? Our culture is uncomfortable with the concept of sick, elder, and dying people having such desires. But if you listen to these folks they’ll tell you what they need and ho difficult it is to live without.

Could sexual intimacy be considered a form of palliative care?

I would think, yes. If you’ve had an active intimate/sex life up until the point you were diagnosed and then all that suddenly disappears, there will be problems. I’m not just talking about genital sexuality; I’m talking about all intimacy needs we humans have — being present to, touching, as well as pleasure. It’s all about what is possible, on a personal level, with one’s intimate partner(s). So many people, even people who love sick, elder, and dying people don’t know how to touch them. And sick, elder, and dying people often report that the only touch they receive is very clinical touch. And that’s not all the life affirming, if you ask me.

Complete Article HERE!

The Sessions

I have some marvelous news!

My good friend and colleague, Dr Cheryl Cohen Greene, is a sex therapist and surrogate partner therapist. On October 26, 2012, Fox Searchlight Pictures will release a movie, The Sessions. It’s the poignant story of her work with one of her famous clients, journalist and poet Mark O’Brien. The movie is finally being released to the general public after a round of critically acclaimed premieres at film festivals all over the world.

Helen Hunt plays Cheryl in the movie. The cast also includes John Hawkes and William H. Macy.

Click HERE to listen to Part 1 of my interview with Cheryl for my SEX WISDOM show.

Cheryl and I have another connection too. If you’ve spent any time with my new book, The Amateur’s Guide To Death and Dying; Enhancing the End of Life, you will probably remember Cheryl from Chapter 6. She did the presentation on sex and intimacy concerns.

I am so proud of Cheryl, the work she does, and the recognition she is finally receiving for her groundbreaking work with sick, disabled, elder, and dying people.

The Kay Jaybee Connection

Interest in The Amateur’s Guide To Death and Dying is coming in from all corners. Even from what would appear, at first glance, as unlikely sources of interest. Take for example my good friend, Kay Jaybee. She is an award-winning author of sizzlin’ erotica who lives in the UK. She and I have know each other since September 2008 when, together, we inagurated The Erotic Mind podcast series over at Dr Dick’s Sex Advice.

Kay and I don’t often get a chance to connect, our schedules and the eight-hour time difference between us often prohibits that. But when we do chat it’s like old home week. Some weeks ago we visited with one another on Skype. I was telling her about the difficulties I was facing trying to get the word out about The Amateur’s Guide. Being an author herself she understood.

Kay asked me if I would be interested in writing a guest post for her site. I jumped for the opportunity.

Of special interest to Kay’s audience, and also my favorite, is Chapter 6 of my book, titled, Don’t Stop.  I collaborated with my dear friend, the internationally known sex educator and therapist, Dr. Cheryl Cohen Greene on this chapter about sexuality and intimacy.

We begin by posing 5 simple questions to help our readers focus their attention on their sexuality and intimacy needs.

1. How important is sexuality in your life?

2. Is there’s a difference between sexuality and intimacy?

3. Do you have a range of options in which to experience your sexuality?  If yes, what are some of them?

4. How well are you able to communicate your needs for sex and/or intimacy to your partner(s)?  Are there any specific issues that get in the way of asking for what you need?

5. What are your biggest concerns about your sexuality as it relates to your disease, aging and/or dying process?

Cheryl sums up the reason for incorporating this chapter in the book.

“Sexuality and intimacy are important topics for us to consider, because there is so little information out there about these things for elders and those of us who have life-threatening conditions.  The assumption, I suppose, is that sick, aging and dying people don’t have sexual and intimacy concerns, so why even bring it up?

That ridiculous assumption is so prevalent, even among healing and helping professions, that I’m forever having to confront it with, ‘Hey, we’re not dead yet.’”

Kay published my guest posting this morning.

I invite you to take a look at the full post.  I think you will agree things have got to change.

Click on Kay’s banner below to see the posting.