Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Different View of Civility

I very rarely delve into political matters on this blog, leaving those comments to other blogs and places that I consider to be more appropriate for a discussion of that nature.

Let me make it clear, though:  I am a gay man and I am in a relationship with another gay man who I consider to be my partner/husband/spouse. We have been together now for almost 18 years in a dedicated, supportive, monogamous relationship which we want to be recognized by our state through a marriage. Yes, marriage.

Why marriage?  It's a matter of fairness to me.

Why should my partner have to have a copy of a full Power of Attorney in hand when I go into a hospital for surgery? While my state has a provision in the law that specifically allows same-sex partners to be involved in decision-making in medical affairs should his partner be hospitalized due to an accident or injury, there are still some places where same-sex partners are not consulted and estranged parents of the injured partner are asked important medical questions. This is absolutely unfair, and the horror stories about this issue abound.

It's also a matter of fairness in economics, as well.  There are hundreds of laws and rules that provide tax and survivor benefits to married couples that we can't get, even though our relationship is the same (except that it's same-sex.)

Some specific legislation has been passed in our state that allows us to pass certain, but not all, of our estate to our partner without tax consequences -- such as our house which we own JTWROS.  But there are many other things that we cannot pass to the other without the other incurring huge tax burdens.  For example, I own eight properties that I rent as affordable housing.  I own those properties under an LLC (small business).  My partner cannot inherit that business (and the value of its holdings) without humongous tax consequences -- which wouldn't apply if we were recognized as being legally married in our state.  My problem is that I set up the LLC before I met my partner, and adding him on later would be equivalent only to something like any other third party whereas if he were female and I claimed him as a wife, he could come on as a legitimate partner in the business and receive ownership of its property upon my death without having to pay taxes and transfer fees for each holding within it immediately upon receipt (that is, upon my death.)

We have had to engage the services of an attorney to prepare documents related to our relationship and our respective "estates" to minimize the tax consequences when the other dies.  However, we shouldn't have to do that ... but we have had to because we are a same-sex couple.  To us, that's fundamentally unfair.

Some people who are against gay marriage get all a-dither about children and raising children by a man and a woman.  They say stupid, unfounded, emotional things about how badly children turn out when raised by same-sex couples.  There are as many proofs that children raised by same-sex couples turn out fine as they are proofs that children raised by opposite-sex couples turn out badly and become criminals, sex offenders, and such.  But that issue doesn't apply to my partner and to me, as we do not have children and do not plan to adopt any.  I have adopted enough in my nieces, nephews, and greats, thanks.

Marriage is NOT a religious institution.  It is a civil institution.  There is nothing in state law that says that one must be married by a member of the clergy and have the marriage recognized by a religious institution (church, mosque, synagogue, etc.)  I don't want the Pope's blessing.  I want my state, simply, to afford us (my partner and me) the same civil status as my neighbors.

I do not feel that this is too much to ask.  As my state's legislature ponders a bill before it that may, this year, afford us the ability to get the civil recognition that we want, I remain steadfast in sharing personal stories to educate my elected officials about how their actions impact the residents (and taxpayers) of our state.  I feel that it is my civic duty, as well as my personal quest, to do that.

... and don't get me started about DOMA and how it affects U.S. federal government employees in same-sex relationships. If you don't know what DOMA is, don't ask. It's awful and will be faced in another fight on another battlefield but not anytime soon, especially in the current political environment.

'Nuf said.  Let us marry.

Life is short:  civil marriage is a civil right.

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