Wednesday, November 04, 2009

"Why?"

This whole Maine voting to repeal gay marriage thing -- and by extension California -- has me thinking. And angry. Mostly angry. I know I'm preaching to the converted here, but one of the comments on my initial "Hey, I got married" post was "Why?" The answer relates so poignantly to Maine's decision to revoke the civil rights of some of its citizens.

Why?

I know that on one hand marriage in the West is a dead institution and when I say this I speak of the institution that our grandparents and countless generations knew before. Women are no longer chattel to be moved from one family to another. There are no more dowries. Women no longer have to love, honor, and obey. (Sorry, honey. I know you were whispering "obey" under your breath as we exchanged vows.) Women, as a whole, are equal partners.

What is marriage in 2009? Again, it's about equality. It's about two people coming together to form a lasting partnership. It's about taking care of the one you love and vice versa, whether you're 30 or 90, regardless of gender.

So I think the question isn't "why" but "why not"? Especially since the gay marriage gods apparently giveth and they taketh away. (I'm looking at you, California and Maine.)

I've learned to value things differently as I've gotten older. While I don't need a piece of paper to confirm what I already know in my heart, I do want the legal structure of a partnership. And yeah, I want my wife to have health care. I want her to make the tough decisions for me should I ever, God forbid, be incapacitated. I want my inalienable right to equal protection under the law. Why is that so threatening to a large swath of the population, especially the voters in California and Maine?

And for one final dose of moral outrage, let me outline for you what lopsided, second class rights I'm entitled to currently. While the State of New York doesn't allow gay marriage (Fuck you, Albany), it does recognize "marriages" performed in other states. Ergo, Ms. K and I went to Connecticut to get hitched, which does perform gay marriages (ie, not civil unions). I'm in negotiations at work over what benefits will extend to Ms. K, namely health care. While things look like they are a go, this is what will happen should Ms. K decide to use my health care.

She goes to the doctor.

She submits a claim to my insurance company.

They reimburse her.

The IRS, because the federal government does not recognize gay marriage, treats the money the insurance company reimburses her as taxable income. Taxable fucking income. Just let that sink in a moment. So if Ms. K spends the night in the ER, like I did back in 2008, receives a $5,000 bill, and it is covered by insurance, we have to pay a percentage to the IRS come April. If your tax rate is 15%, that's $750 that will have to be paid to the IRS. If we were a straight married couple, this would not be the case.

This is what it is like to be a second class citizen in your own country.

I recommend reading the New York Time's "The High Price of Being a Gay Couple."

4 comments:

Ms. Avarice said...

I think T-Mobile started doing that for employee phone benefits before I quit... your phone and your opposite-sex spouse was not taxable, but lines for anyone else on your account were taxable, even for a legal same-sex spouse. I never had a domestic partner, so I'm not aware of the details on health care benefits. It pretty much sucks :( Way to go America for raining on somebody's wedding. :(

LizW said...

I had to come out of the lurker's closet to tell you how badly I feel about the decision in Maine. I came to your blog today, pretty sure you'd have something to say about it - and also to double-check the state you got married in. Glad to see it wasn't Maine! You have educated me (a Canuck) on how your federal government screws over gays lucky enough to find a state in which to get married. That really does define the term second class citizen.

ToonCat said...

I think I get even angrier about it when the basic facts are laid out as simply as you've done here. There shouldn't need to be justifications - there should just be equality.

Congratulations though - have a fun and happy life together!

Beatrice said...

I had read the NYT article, but I somehow missed the part about insurance payments being treated as taxable income. That's ridiculous.