Saturday, September 23, 2006

What We Get For Marriage Equality

It’s probably not politically useful to go on about what you’d get for equal treatment, but, one on one, I think most people do care, and have a hard time keeping a hard heart :-). So, I’ll finish this up with our reasons as to why we want legal marriage.

1--Our home. We just built it, not by ourselves of course :-), but a lot of our work is in it, from the electrical to the many extra earthquake straps around the kid’s bedrooms. We built it to suite our family, to get the boys a bigger yard, and to keep near their grandparents.

We were almost done and ready to move in when I read this story (a follow-up article here, and a local angle here). A couple not allowed to use the home they own, because they aren’t legally married and have more than 1 child. I checked our zoning law ASAP. It turns out we’re in the same position; to the law, our type shouldn’t be here, in our own home, zoned for “single families”. It’s very worrying to think one grumpy neighbor could complain us out of our property, our home because we don’t have the right anatomy.

2--Health Insurance. Now I pay for two health plans, one for the children and I and another for their dad. It’s very expensive, and wastes time when R has to take the kids in on an emergency, but legal marriage would put us all on one plan, and save that money. Some may say this is a private businesses issue, and it is in part. But it wasn’t when I worked for the government, and the private insurance companies need to be able to know when people have these sorts of relationships and have made these legal commitments.

3-- Taxes. If we could file jointly we’d save money each year (not the case for all gay couples, though). More importantly to me is to know we’ve escaped the “death tax”, a thing that is up in the air with the current legislature. R is a stay at home dad, and if I die, our money is not freely his money, as it is in other marriages. The way our accountant explained it, I’m not even allowed to give him more than 10K/year without him having to pay an exorbitant “gift tax”. This also severely limits what we can leave our children without a high tax. Other children have parents that can shuttle cash between them effortlessly and therefore can easily get twice the tax-free inheritance. It’s near enough to make a guy use the welfare we could get as single.

Simply, if tax and marriage law makes it so that R can’t keep our home and remain a stay-at-home dad for our boys until they’ve grown, I’ll mercilessly haunt the homes of Chris Butters and Gayle Ruzicka :-).

4--Social Security. There are some tediously dry considerations here. Simply, I’d want R to have access to my SS. He works in our home and should have it if something happens to me. I know it could go to the kids, but they barely know what money is :-).

5--Give peace of mind in an emergency. There are the little things having to do with medical problems. But I worry about the big things. We have a huge binder giving us legal power to make many decisions (spent a good deal of money on it too), but it’s not what marriage gives in this area, and it’s not something we can keep with us both. Maybe we should, but it doesn’t, say, go with us on trips. Legal marriage best assures family will be treated like family, leaves the least legal ambiguity, and with relatively little trouble. No one wants to have to run home for papers if their spouse is in an accident, or be in a court battle following the death of their spouse, even if they win, but it happens to many gay couples.

6--Strengthen our will upon a death. Rare sure, but wills can be and are contested, and sometimes invalidated by judges. We’ve known a couple who’ve lost court battles with family, as a gay “lover” is not a spouse in the eyes of many judges, no matter how entangled their lives were. Even if you can afford a lawyer to write a strong will, as our estate planner constantly disclaims about all his work, “it’s not as certain as a legal marriage.” I do fear, at the very least, my will being contested because I’ve left near everything to my beloved, though near legal stranger. I’d like to have more assurance that when I leave my home in the morning things would be as tolerable as possible, if I should be killed; that my family would be treated like the family of any other citizen.

7--Protect them from everyone. For those not married, this may be difficult to understand, but when I think of the man that would hurt my family, I want him punished. I want him punished, even if it’s me. If I break my vows to my R and our children, divorce law should be there to make me pay up, to keep R’s current standard of living and keep the kids in their home. The law should not be on the side of the cad who, say, cheated on them and left for Providence Town and left R with next to no good way to keep up his income. I made promises that led him to be a stay-at-home dad and not pursue a career or higher education. Even if they’d deny ever worrying, I want R and all our family to have the peace of mind to know they had that recourse, if I did go completely insane.

To be honest, that’s unimaginable. Though I’m sure many a guy has said that just before his midlife crisis, I’m more certain than I am the sun will rise tomorrow. Nevertheless, I want them to have the ability to harm me if I don’t follow through, for psychological reasons, if nothing else.

8--Help our friends. We’ve got it good compared to many here in Utah. Some couples have a parent in Iraq with no chance of getting the benefits deserving of military families making such a sacrifice. Some can’t afford the legal counsel to make up the necessary legal documents to get the bare minimum. Some children can’t get health insurance because the marriage law only lets them have one of their parents be a legal parent. Legal marriage may help them more than us, but they are people we love and respect, and I’d considerate help for them something “we get”, in a way.

Well, that’s all I can think of. In 4 big blog posts, all my reasons for giving equal rights to people and couples regardless of the sexual anatomy, and not one counter argument; my reasoning must be unbeatable ;-). Now back to the less political…


santorio said...

in any pluristic society, when any one group is denied equal rights, the entire society is diminished.

Kengo Biddles said...

Some food for your thought, Scot.

Scot said...

Thanks for the link Kengo.