Monday, October 6, 2014

....I Now Pronounce You Mrs. and Mrs.....

Wonder Wo...whoever you wanna be! (image via)

If recent history has shown anything it's that times, they are a-changin'.  Marriage equality has seen its fair share of media attention with more and more states finding the ban on same sex marriage unconstitutional.  Every time I see a Facebook post or tweet about a recent development in a state's stance on marriage equality, I find the comments section to be the textual equivalent of a fatal car crash scene; I don't want to keep reading the horribly insensitive and judgmental opinions but I just can't look away.  I have completely shied away from joining the fray, restraining my support of marriage equality to a like or a favorite.  But I've had enough of the hate, pious percipience and discrimination.  So here are my two cents.

The focus in social media's response to marriage equality seems to be on the religious and social aspects of marriage, gay or otherwise.  Please don't forget that many financial and environmental aspects of people's lives can be impacted by the right to enter into a legally recognized marriage.

Joint tax returns, joint adoption of a child, life insurance beneficiary rights, being on a health insurance plan as a family...these are all examples of things that opposite sex married couples take for granted as entitlements, yet these same rights are often denied (based on state/local laws, company policy or legal intervention by a family member) to same sex couples.  Yes, there are many corporations that have broadened their benefit language to include "domestic partner", enabling you to opt for family insurance coverage....but that choice is currently left up to each individual company.  However, it needs to be duly noted that the "domestic partner clause" wasn't necessarily designed with same sex couples in mind.  It is fairly common for the definition of a "domestic partner" to include someone who is either the same -OR- the opposite sex.  What's the big deal, you ask?  Well, now opposite sex couples who don't want to be married can also have the benefit of a family insurance plan, provided they meet the defined criteria (typically defined as a person who shares a residence with a sexual partner, especially without a legally recognized union, residency must be proven and can often be challenged by the insurer, compromising eligibility).  So, to recap that business, it still winds up benefitting the heterosexual population.  And even with Health Care Reform, the tax laws governing the taxation of health care benefits paid by an employer for non-tax qualified partners is complicated, costly and discouraging.  This can lead to higher premiums for covering a "domestic partner" as opposed to a legal spouse.

These things have nothing to do with God or how someone personally feels about people who aren't heterosexual.  If two people wish to commit to one another for life, in making that vow, they should be afforded the same entitlements as anyone else making that same commitment....gender should not be a condition.

And for those who say the government should "stay out of it", please remember that it's the government that issues that piece of paper that makes a union between two people something that is legally recognized.  Even those who choose to marry in a church and "in the eyes of God" are required to apply for and obtain a marriage license from their local court clerk if they wish for their marriage to be legal.  If someone can interpret the legal definition of marriage to mean "only between a man and a woman", and in doing so create or uphold a ban on same sex marriage, then the only way to remove the ambiguity leaving it open to that interpretation is for the government to amend its definition once and for all.  Please spare me the "what's next, marrying your dog" rhetoric....simply defining marriage as a union between TWO PEOPLE will be sufficient to satisfy those who insist same sex marriage can only lead to people marrying their pets, trees or cars.

I try to live my life without judgment.  I do not consider myself a particularly religious person, baptized Catholic but never practicing.  I do not admonish or wish ill toward anyone who has rich religious or spiritual beliefs!  I do not subscribe to one particular political party, politics is not something that I find all that interesting in and of itself.  If something sparks my fancy, I'll read about it, maybe chat about it with Mom or the boy....but I shy away from political debates at all cost because frankly, I am quite ignorant in the differentiations between Republican, Democrat, Independent, Green.....are there more?  If politics is your thing, carry on, someone has to keep watch and hold the government officials accountable!  I was married and divorced, so I must have believed in the premise of marriage yet I have no interest in ever entering that union again.  If you are married, I wish you a long and happy marriage and if you are single and want nothing more than to take that walk down the aisle, I think that's great!  I generally fall somewhere between a 1 and 3 on the Kinsey Scale, meaning that typically associate as being a heterosexual person.  If your Kinsey Scale number trends more toward a 5 or 6, where you identify as mostly or exclusively attracted to people of the same sex, I truly hope you find your soul mate, whomever that is!

To each their own.  If your beliefs, lifestyle, values and actions don't infringe on my life, I wish you well in whatever you want out of life.  I only ask that you don't try and push your agenda on me....and I will grant you the same courtesy.  To each their own is easy to say but to truly live and want equality for everyone....that is a lofty goal that seems insurmountable but if people would just remember that we are all HUMAN and leave it at that...I think that would go a long way toward that goal.

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