Monday, March 17, 2008

None Of The Above

Married, single, divorced or widowed.

We've all seen those options on various forms for classifying our status. And while it's not surprising in states like Texas where recognition of same sex relationships is about as likely as a tax on the Southern Baptist Church, I think we expected a bit more from states such as Connecticut which do, in theory, recognize civil unions. It's actually not such a surprise that it is not working. Separate but equal just doesn't cut it.
Eager to celebrate their partnership, Tracy and Katy Weber Tierney were among the first in line when Connecticut created civil unions three years ago as a way to formalize same-sex relationships without using the word “marriage.”

But when Tracy was giving birth to their son, Jake, five months ago, a hospital employee inquired whether she was “married, single, divorced or widowed.”

“I’m in a civil union,” she replied. When the employee checked “single,” Tracy protested. “I’m actually more married than single,” she said, leaving the employee flustered about how to proceed.

And the case made by the states against same sex marriage is infuriating.
The state also argues that the plaintiffs have no case because they are free to marry, just not to someone of the same sex, and that there is no gender discrimination because men and women are equally constrained.

Nice logic. We have the right to marry -- it just can't be the one we love.

Frankly, until the playing field is level and there's full equality, I have no interest whatsoever in participating. I probably can't afford it.
For Jean Csvihinka, 48, who works at a bank in Milford, getting a civil union meant paying tax on an additional $6,000 a year. Ms. Csvihinka said that adding her partner, Gina Bonfietti, 43, a self-employed piano technician, to her health insurance obligated her to pay a federal tax on the value of the additional coverage that married couples would not owe, and that since the civil union she has also had to pay tax on her daughters’ coverage even though the girls were on her plan, tax-free, before. She said she was told that “it’s a systems issue.”

Experts blame some of these problems on the disconnect between state taxes, which civil union couples can file jointly, and federal taxes, which they cannot because of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act that defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

Since we obviously cannot rely on the states or voters to rectify this problem, we are probably at the mercy of the judges.
Amy Pear, a 39-year-old police captain in Middletown, said she was reminded again this month of her own murky legal status when she returned home from an overseas trip with June Lockert, 46, her better half for the last 14 years.

Arriving at Kennedy International Airport, the couple were asked whether they were one household. Captain Pear said she explained that they were, in Connecticut, because of their civil union. She said the customs officer sent them back to be processed separately since the federal government took a different view, and remarked “Welcome home” as she passed.

Welcome home, my ass! If there is one thing I expect (or demand) to see happen during the next administration, it would be to resolve this absurd discrimination and let us have the basic human dignity of our relationship being recognized and putting an end to the second tier status. The current murky waters are completely unacceptable.

Crossposted at Big Brass Blog

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