Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Obama's brief for DOMA support, and Same-Sex benefits for Federal employees

This week has already been quite controversial with the Obama administration.
First, hundreds of news stories on the net showed criticism for Obama's Justice Department's brief supporting DOMA - the Defense of Marriage Act that defines a marriage to be only between a man and a woman.

Many LGBT advocate groups, as well as local governments and mayors, consider this move to be a big step backwards for equal rights.

Also this week, the Obama administration is also starting to extend benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees. This tactic is probably in line with Obama's intent to gradually provide same or similar benefits to same-sex couples, even though there may be marriage parity.

With the fight on marriage equality continuing, getting equal benefits is just a piece of the overall equality pie. Marriage comes with over 1000 legal rights automatically granted to the couple - the right to inherit a partner's savings and estate upon death, the right to make medical decisions for a partner in critical situations, the right to take care and custody of their children when the partner is not available, etc. This is on top of the fiscal $4000-$6000 tax deduction difference of a Married taxpayer vs. Single taxpayer (Married same-sex couples are recognized as Single by the IRS, even for states that legally grant same-sex marriage.) All these basic human rights do not exist for same-sex partners even though they also strive to have a prosperous family, sometimes even if legally married from a state.

It's these basic rights that the public, and our federal government, is still missing out on, as the majority (as determined by votes) is still trying to preserve traditional marriage defined by the image of a man and a woman. It seems that the image is still more important to the public vs. the real persons underneath.

What if we defined laws based on perceived or expected images of people???

Thursday, June 4, 2009

New Hampshire Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage

Yesterday the big news was around New Hampshire being the sixth state to legalize same-sex, marriage, after the legislature passed the bill, and Governor John Lynch signed.   However, careful language was inserted to give religious institutions the right to not perform same-sex marriages if they did not want to.   I think that is OK, to give people and organizations the right to act according to their own beliefs.   People can always change their religious faiths if they choose to do so too.