Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Fallen Heroes

Every once In a while we get a link or an email about a story that strikes really close to home. From  an article in The Vital Voice... The story of Patrolman Dennis Englehard is just such a story. Patrolman Englehard was struck will assisting at an accident site on Christmas day.

I don't know if any one remembers our Christmas morning video. Jay was behind the camera while I handed out the presents under the tree and the kids got to make out like bandits. That moment could not have been made if instead we had recieved a phone call saying that Jay had been killed in the line of duty.

Dennis Englehard's partner and son lived that experience.

Dennis and his partner, Kelly Glossip, had been together for 15 years. They were raising a son together. Now Englehard's partner and son are facing the loss of a husband and a father without the support that would traditionally be afforded a law enforcement spouse....or any spouse for that matter.

In obituaries about Patrolman Englehards memorial services you will find nothing at all about his surviving partner and son...nothing that mentions that he was gay....nothing except references to his service. At the Missouri State Highway Patrol Website :

Survivors include his parents, Jim and Marge Engelhard, of Excelsior Springs, MO; one brother (and sister-in-law) Dan and Kelly Engelhard and their children, Jenna, Jacob, and Jackson, all of Oak Grove; three aunts, Carol Kearns and her husband, Junior, of Brookfield, Frances Smart and her husband, Donald, of San Diego, CA, and Bernice Engelhard, of Marceline, MO; and many loving relatives.

I guess "loving Relatives" was meant to take in his husband of 15 years and son.....yeah right...

And one thing that all "married spouses" of law enforcment officers recieve...aside from support from the the benefits that our loved ones have been earning over their years of service. Englehards partner and son do not have access to that because of Missouri's state laws...

Even "Backstoppers"...a Missouri law enforcement support organization that normally steps up to help spouses at a time like this, has chosen to ignore Englehards family....and we all know why.

So here Is a man who was happily married and raising a family, who has now lost his husband...he finds himself a single parent when he imagined himself growing old with his husband. He has no financial support or recompense of any kind for his families loss ...and the kicker...because they were a gay family, everyone wants to pretend they didn't exist.

This is what awaits us when we ignore marriage equality. This is the ugly face of discrimination that rears its head when we are least able to deal with it.

This is my worst nightmare....The phone call that says "theres been an accident."

Jay drives an hour to work and an hour back. all it takes is one guy texting while driving...or one exploding tire.(This happened once)  Jay works in a facility where the ratio of inmates far exceeds the number of deputies. The close proximity of people in a jail means getting tested regularly for diseases like Tuberculosis. Contact with violent people and exposure to blood is a daily part of the job. One blow to the head is all it takes and Deputies have died in Jays department while we have been together. Every time I think..."that could be us"....I can spin a million scenarios that play out in my mind every day and while I may not worry every second of my life., its always there....and all it takes is Jay being five minutes late for me to start thinking the worst. Nothing is scarier than waking up at 12:30 to find an empty place next to you in bed.

I start to wonder how I'm going to keep this home afloat. How I'm going to work and be there for the kids at the same time. How I am going to get out of bed and do what needs to be done when I would want to lay down and die too.
The other half of my soul would be gone and I would not want to live let alone plan funeral arrangements and think about mortgages. How do I be the rock for Daniel and Selena.....I am thouroughly unprepared for any of this. I don't know how my Grandmother found the strength to do it when my Grandfather died leaving her with two young children.

But I at least would have help, and would not be alone. Making that narrow window for marriage entitles our family to many protections should something happen. Patrolman Englehard's family does not have that help or support. As Jay just said, "How do his own coworkers not stand up for him?" ...indeed not one member of his family had the decency to say that excluding his husband and son from the obituary was wrong?!....I don't know Englehards or Glossips relationship to his family so I can not make a judgement...but I can not help being angry and asking why?

Being gay was only a part of who he was as a man...just as being in law enforcement was only a part...but to deny either is to dishonor his life and all that he stood for.

Since Englehards family, Backstoppers, and the Missouri Highway Patrol don't have the decency to step up and help his family in their time of need...then we as the gay community need to step up and help our own. To Help Patrolman Englehards family please donate to:

The Dennis Engelhard Memorial Fund

c/o Christ Church Cathedral
1210 Locust St
Saint Louis, MO 63101

A memorial will be held at 2:00 P.M. Saturday the 30th at the above address.


  1. Brian you are amazing and I wish all the best for you and your family and that you and Jay grow old together

  2. That is terrible.

    A lot of my family and Jake's work in law enforcement so I know what you mean. Both my parents are in the police. Jakes Dad, Auntie and brother are all police officers.

    My dad now works as a consultant for murder invesitgations but he previously worked in anti terrorism and in Pakistan. Both he and my mother were injured at work a few times while I was a child. My mum has had her nose broken twice.

    The one thing neither of them ever had to worry about was being left without anything if the other was killed.

    I hope that charity feels really proud of itself.

    Luckily gay married police officers in the UK get treated equally, but lets not forget it has only been like that for about 5 years. Sick.

  3. They had spent more of their lives together than most heterosexual couples, yet their relationships is considered less valid. It really sickens me. I will do my best to get some money sent to him and his son.

  4. I can´t imagine if someting like this happened here in argentina, I think it could be worst,

    Bryan, i totally get you, i often think about thiferen posibilities, losing my friends( Not even comparing though) But i get it... sometimes thinking sucks...

  5. Well I have to say that I don't imagine that happening here in México... not because we have a great set of laws... is just that adoption wasn't an option until a few months ago. I am guessing that the long term couples here should have a back up plan (well at least I would try to have that).

    I totally get what are you trying to say but don't go to those dark places in your mind unless you have an "exit" strategy for those situations (tho this is one of those situations that no one wants to be at). If you stop to think on those situations try to think in a solution to that, if you don't is just a waste of time.

    And for the grandmother part... well I guess her love to her children was bigger than the sadness of losing the other half of her soul.... wasn't it??


  6. Hello again Jay and Bryan. I've forwarded the information regarding Officer Engelhardt to PFLAG in St. Louis and I've asked that they distribute it. Thanks again for keeping us informed. Chris in Long Beach

  7. What a tragedy and how sad. I'm orginally from St. Louis. This action on the part of the Missouri Highway Patrol comes as no surprise. I've forwarded the information regarding Officer Engelhardt to friends in St. Louis and I'll contribute to the memorial fund. Thank you so much for keep us informed. Chris in Long Beach

  8. Thank you guys so much for supporting Patrolman Englehard's family. It reafirms my faith that our readers really are the best :) are very right about my Grandmother...sometimes you do what you have to do.

  9. I looked up every single news article i could find and there is not one mention of his husband and child.. this just makes me vomit.. its hard enough being gay but even more difficult being gay and in a long term loving relationship (at least where I am at).. i can't imagine ... i just cant..

  10. You know what Bryan I don't think that we are the best.

    I think it is just common decency to abhor the treatment of this man's child.

    It shows just how sick some sections of society are that they think it is acceptable to ignore them.

    I think the people on here are just normal human beings!

  11. Missouri is in the middle of the bible belt. To me..this is so "un Christian."
    The check is in the mail Bryan.
    Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

  12. Unfortunately I am living a paycheck-to-paycheck life right now and so unfortunately I can't help in this, which makes me sad because this is the type of thing that needs to be done. My prayers go out to the family of Officer Engelhard and I hope that they know that we are hoping that they have the support to see them through these hard times. And to the spirit of Dennis, we thank you for all that you did to protect us in your life.

  13. Wow.... I'm from St. Louis, and followed this story closely. My brother is a police officer and was on the scene after this accident. It was never once mentioned in the news that he had a family. Learning this a month later makes me sick to my stomach!

    Katie in STL

  14. @comixbear Prayers can be just as valuable as money :)

  15. Here is an interesting article from the St. Louis Post Dispatch. It details the inequality for the family of Officer Engelhard; however there is a chance the the Justice Dept. may pay out $311,000 to Kelly Glossip.

  16. just a few weeks back I started to watch your videos on YT and I get hooked, really hooked. I wanted to watch them all before make my first comment, but i couldn’t help to wonder if you have had talk to your kids what would happen if Jay gets hurt or (God forbid) something worse in the line of duty. I was saving this for your "ask a gay familly" series but again couldn't help. I really look up to you guys, I wish you the best and hope you never have to live something like this. I'm sorry for Englehard's family's loss.