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Posts Tagged ‘Marriage Equality’

1,000+ Reasons for Marriage Equality

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

“What are we really protecting? We have a wedding channel. We are giving away husbands on a game show.” – Senator Savino

1000 reasons for marriage equalityThere is a list of more than 1,049 benefits and protections available to heterosexual married couples. These range from federal benefits, such as survivor benefits through Social Security, sick leave to care for an ailing partner, and tax breaks. They also include things like family discounts, obtaining family insurance through your employer, visiting your spouse in the hospital and making medical decisions if your partner is unable to. Civil Unions protect some of these rights, but not all of them.  If you receive a marriage license, it is recognized in any state. If you want to have a Civil Union, then it will only be honored in the state that provided it and does not hold the same protections.

The United States Constitution guarantees equality for all. Marriage and civil unions are not the same. Creating equal access to marriage is the only fair way to ensure equality for gay and straight couples alike.

According to Lambda Legal Defense, more than 1,400 legal rights are conferred upon heterosexual married couples in the United States. On the website, http://lesbianlife.about.com/od/wedding/f/MarriageBenefit.htm, they list twenty-five:

1.   Joint parental rights of children
2.   Joint adoption
3.   Status as “next-of-kin” for hospital visits and medical decisions
4.   Right to make a decision about the disposal of loved ones remains
5.   Immigration and residency for partners from other countries
6.   Crime victims recovery benefits
7.   Domestic violence protection orders
8.   Judicial protections and immunity
9.   Automatic inheritance in the absence of a will
10. Public safety officers death benefits
11. Spousal veterans benefits
12. Social Security
13. Medicare
14. Joint filing of tax returns
15. Wrongful death benefits for surviving partner and children
16. Bereavement or sick leave to care for partner or children
17. Child support
18. Joint Insurance Plans
19. Tax credits including: Child tax credit, Hope & lifetime learning credits
20. Deferred Compensation for pension and IRAs
21. Estate and gift tax benefits
22. Welfare and public assistance
23. Joint housing for elderly
24. Credit protection
25. Medical care for survivors and dependents of certain veterans

Just last week, my home state of New York, denied Marriage Equality by a vote of 38-24. It seems strange that after 15 years of being in a loving relationship with my partner, I am denied the rights of someone who could apply for a marriage license without hesitation as long as they are heterosexual. Senator Savino said it best in her testimony, We have nothing to fear from love and commitment.”  

Many of us have been made to feel less than at one point in our life because of the color of our skin, because we are women, because of our age. We all have a voice. Now is the time to speak up for Marriage Equality. I am committed to my life partner through sickness and health, for richer and poorer, until death do us part. How committed are you to equality?

If you were denied your right to collect your spouse’s social security benefits, would you sit and do nothing? If you had to pay taxes on your spouse’s health insurance benefits, would you sit and do nothing? If your spouse lay gravely ill in the hospital and the hospital denied you rights to make medical decisions, would you sit and do nothing? If you and your spouse adopted a child, but you were denied joint adoption rights, would you sit and do nothing?

Would you say it was just not the right time for these basic rights to be given to you? Tell me what date, day, and time will be the right time and I will be there. In the meantime, now is my time.

Mary Anne

For a clear picture of Marriage Equality, please listen to New York State Senator Savino testimony.

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The Gifts of Stonewall – 40 Years Later

Friday, June 26th, 2009

It was the evening of June 27, 1969 – the NYC Police Department raided the Stonewall Inn – and Greenwich Village was turned upside down. These raids were common and people were arrested for being homosexual. Gay men were beaten, dragged onto the streets, and arrested because of their sexuality. But on this night, gays had enough, and fought back in what has been called the Stonewall Riots. For many nights, protestors stood outside the Stonewall Inn and fought off the cops. This is what history has deemed as the beginning of the Gay Movement. And, yes, we have moved forward in so many ways, and yet, not enough in some areas.

This weekend marks the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. This is an opportunity to look back with gratitude for all who stood outside the Stonewall Inn and stood up for GLBT rights and say thank you. It is also an opportunity to make sure that all the sacrifices by those who came before us were not made in vain. They prepared the way for greater liberation for all. We can thank them by our continued efforts to educate, advocate, and bring our ideas and visions forward.

At a time when our President announces benefits for same-sex federal employees, we still have a military policy of, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” At a time when couples are rushing to Iowa (yes, Iowa!) to get married, many states are telling us that civil unions are enough or worse yet, reversing same-sex marriage.

People have told me to wait until the right time to speak about marriage equality, adoptions, and medical protections. “When is the right time for civil rights?” asked Lance Black, screen writer for the movie Milk. He went on to say that this country historically has worked on civil rights issues during times of unrest. Was it good timing when Rosa Parks sat at the front of the bus? Every movement has its time and I believe this is our time to open up the conversation for equality for the GLBT community. If we think back to the time of prosperity during the Clinton presidency, we walked away with two terrible policies, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act).

Everyone has their views and I respect that. What I really desire is a society that honors love between adults. I dream of a day when it is not a matter of straight marriage and gay marriage, but honoring love. I have been with my partner for 15 wonderful years. We are present in the lives of our families during both times of joy and pain. We have lost loved ones and have been there for each other through sickness and health. Yet, I have to consciously decide when and to whom to share my life’s story and how. I have to choose how to answer medical forms which often leave my relationship out when I am asked to circle, “married, single or divorced.” I have had to accept being introduced (after 15 years) as my partners “friend.” I accept that change is slow and I accept that change is possible – because on a personal level, I have changed how I show up in the world and live my life with openness and vulnerability.

The best part of my life is the fact that I share it with everyone – men, women, gay, straight, bi-sexual, African American, Indian, white, social workers, city workers, life coaches, shamans, writers, nuns, nurses, business owners etc…I love that we are all of it. We are woven into the fabric of society.

The gift of Stonewall is that we stood up and said we are here – see us. I didn’t “come out” because I wanted people to tolerate me. I came out because I wanted folks to know I love and hurt like everyone else. This is a time of celebrating 40 years of a rich and diverse community. This year, I invite you to stand alongside a gay or lesbian friend or family member. Stand alongside and thank them for the gift of love and courage they give to the world. Stonewall lives on.

I am grateful for all the men and women who went before me and stood up for their right to be loved and love others – no matter their sexual orientation. I am grateful for all those in the Stonewall Rebellion. I am grateful for my loving life partner, Lorene, for 15 wonderful years.

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