Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Why not Marriage Equality?

I think this ad says it all...

If you want a decrease in the "evil acts" some associate with homosexuality, let men marry other men! These boys seem too tired to be committing sodomy.

Also, these have been around for a little while. There are 4 versions that are worth a look-and-see on youtube, but the "taxes" one is my fav because I have been known to get a little enraged about our fake-legal-status every year at tax time.

Aside from the plucky music and the gentle, ironic tone which I think is very effective in these "Think Equal" ads, I love what they've done with the personifications. I like the non-plussed, relaxed "I'm okay with you- what's wrong with you?" self-entitled air about the "married" character while the "civil union" character is kind of tired as if to say, "I'm okay with you too, but I'm getting killed here."

Kt and I are Civil unionized and there are two huge issues that we seem to get all riled up about related to not being able to get "MARRIED". The biggest thing it means for us right now is that IN CONNECTICUT, we are considered legally similar to married couples; Except we can't leave the state and retain any protections. If we are travelling, we are not connected legally at all. If any distant, out of state relatives wanted to challenge our "arrangement" in their "out-of-state" courts they could. Even if they lost the court battle, a case could be brought in a place we never lived where our civil union (the only proof of our valid, legal relationship) is meaningless. The major downer, of course, is this only becomes an issue if something awful were to happen to one or both of us. While we are both standing here breathing air and mentating, we can fight off problems and challenges together. But if there is some kind of tragedy: illness, injury, loss of life, etc., our legal standing is a crap shoot.

The other issue we get infuriated about is the financial aspect. We are living an intertwined monetary existence (as most married couples are). All her assets are mine and mine hers. All our bank accounts are joint bank accounts. Every penny she earns, I can go out and spend. Our mortgage, our cars, our insurance... All under both of our names. But get this, if one of us dies, the government will try to figure out what is hers and tax me on it- as income; not HALF of it, all of it. (They don't do that for married couples.) We are not entitled to each other's social security benefits at all, or the non-taxed amounts of each other retirement funds. (Guess if that is the case for married couples???)

Also, the health benefits we are legally entitled to provide for one another are taxed (They are non-taxable for married couples). We are not allowed to share our resources in non-taxed health care savings accounts (as are married couples.) We have to annually make an imaginary division of our assets instead of filing income taxes as a family (as most married couples do.)

This is a hassle and an insult. And also this costs us money! Money in the form of not getting the tax and monetary benefits of marriage, and Money in the form of having to hire accountants and lawyers to make sure that we are not breaking the law when we file and are legally protected "kin" to one another.

But much worse, THIS is the government's way of forcing us to lie. We are not "single, married, divorced or widowed. " If you make us choose, we are forced to check off the "single" box. If we are "single" than you are saying that all gay parents are single parents (the societal implication of this is worthy of it's own post.) If you make us check off the "single" box, you essentially delete our family... you erase homosexual couples from the numbers... according to the US government, we don't even even exist!

Isn't that convenient.

If you are straight and you wanna know what you can do... Read below this line i've drawn in the sand.


If you don't want to be subjected to my little civic lesson, stop reading now.

It's not too late.

You can

Okay, I'm glad you joined us:

If you are straight and you wanna know what you can do...
I'll tell you:

1. OWN THIS ISSUE A LITTLE... GET A LITTLE OUTRAGED. Then SPEAK UP in your own quiet way...

Know that your place in society includes speaking out for a minority that is being denied civil rights. The loudest (allegedly) heterosexual voices on this issue are against equal rights. I often wonder, "why do they care so much, that they devote all this energy to trying to keep kt and i from getting married?" It turns out that the loud ones are in the minority. Take solace and strength, my friends, in the knowledge that the majority of Hets are like you... You have a few gays that you love, that you know are productive members of society, and you're too busy living your everyday life to be all that politically active. You don't give a rat's ass whether or not I get an equal tax relief on my employer-offered, health care benefits. (In fact, you probably think I should get equal benefits,) but you don't know all the talking points and don't want to get into some major debate with an Evangelical wingnut shouting out about "Special rights."

2: Don't believe the lie that gay people are asking for "Special rights" when we are asking for equal, civil rights. People that say this, that talk about a "gay agenda" and the "gays trying to take away your rights..." Their arguments are usually compelling because those people are so convinced of the truth of their opinion. But really, does this make sense to you? Even if marriage is being redefined (as it has been redefined many times throughout history) how does that really negatively affect you??? Think of those dad's in the ad, just making dinner for and putting their two children to bed. Why shouldn't those dudes be allowed to get married?

By the way, the government has never been able to tell churches who they can and can't marry. To this day, the Catholic church will refuse to marry couples who are interfaith, who are divorced, who don't attend mass regularly, or who are not members of the church community. It is a scare tactic to pretend that legalizing same sex marriage will mean that churches will have to change their laws. (Incidentally, the law states you can't use gender to discriminate in employment practices, but that doesn't mean that the RCC has opened up the priesthood to women.)

3. Vote. You'd be hard pressed to find a mainstream candidate who states their support for same sex marriage. Trust me when I tell you that will change in 10-20 years. But for now, Vote for candidates that want to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. Vote for candidates that don't think the federal government should limit the definition of marriage to a union between a man and a woman. Vote for candidates that promise to repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell. Vote for candidates that say "Federal protections should be offered to gay and lesbian couples."

4. Find your voice and speak up in small groups.
- Walk away when gay jokes are told.
- Stop calling strange things "gay," and "queer."
- If you have no problem with Jake's mom's getting married, say so when you are in a group of (alleged) straights and someone is going off about how marriage needs to be protected from the gays. It's as simple as saying, "I have no problem with same sex marriage." And if someone wants to debate it and you don't feel like it, you can say, "I'm not going to debate you, I'm just saying, I have no problem with same sex marriage." That type of comment goes a long way- especially if there might be a man or woman in your circle of friends who is in the closet and listening...

Chances are good, you are not the only one in that group who wants that guy to shut the eff up.

5. Give money to Love Makes a family (In CT) or other groups that support the legal challenges facing GLBT families. Even if you give $5, $10, $20 a year, your name goes on their roles. The numbers of supporters increase. Numbers matter where these issues are concerned. Numbers matter when the federal government can "erase" me and my family by refusing to acknowledge us or provide a box for us to check that accurately defines our existance...

That's all. Not too much to ask, right?
Let me just say, to all you who read below the line,
I love you, peeps!

1 comment:

C-LO said...

Very well said. It seems like the most common reaction is, "It's fine with me. You can marry whomever you want." but fine is different from, "I'm going to call my congresswoman about it and let my views be known..."