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Posts Tagged ‘Same-sex marriage’

Almost a decade ago, I read articles that piqued my interest in gay rights – specifically that gay couples do not have visitation rights when their partner is in the hospital nor can they make medical decisions on their behalf.  It was heartbreaking to read one particular story where a woman was on life support but the partner could not visit nor make any decisions for her.  The family, which had long disowned the woman on life support when she came out as a lesbian, could visit, make health decisions for her, even make funeral arrangements for her if she dies; the partner, who had been by her side for the past several years, could do none of those things.

Around the same time, I had a co-worker who is a lesbian, & she told me her frustration that she couldn’t add her partner to our employer sponsored health insurance.  They would have to get it separately through their own respective employers, which would be more expensive.  Her partner had just been hired elsewhere & would have to wait the three to six months before she could qualify for health insurance there.  In the meantime, my co-worker’s partner was without health insurance.

Since that day, I’ve been in favor of gay rights because, simply,  they are human rights.

Someone once posted on my fb wall  that in cases like the ones above, a gay couple can use a living will or some other legal document.  But for me, that’s beside the point.  A heterosexual couple in an emergency situation or a medical situation gone awry, the doctor isn’t going to ask for legal documents like that, it’s automatic that you can visit your spouse and make medical decisions for him/her.  Heck, you can simply say “I’m the spouse” & they’re not going to ask for a copy of your marriage license to prove you’re married.  But if you’re a same-sex couple & you say, “I’m his/her partner“, sorry, you’ll need documents to prove your relationship.

Fortunately, times have changed since the time I read those articles.  In January 2011, new hospital visitation regulations took effect that allow patients to decide who has visitation rights & who can make decisions on their behalf.  However, implementation of these rules are inconsistent, as proven by an email I received a few days ago from change.org which I read only now. The link is here.

After reading that, I went on google to look up a national gay rights organization & was led to this website, the Human Rights Campaign.  I sent them a question, & they replied back with this very informative link, the Answers to Questions about Marriage Equality.

A few things I learned:

Social Security benefits. Married people receive Social Security payments upon the death of a spouse. Despite paying payroll taxes, gay and lesbian partners receive no Social Security survivor benefits — resulting in an average annual income loss of $5,528 upon the death of a partner.

Family leave. Married workers are legally entitled to unpaid leave from their jobs to care for an ill spouse. Gay and lesbian workers are not entitled to family leave to care for their partners.

Estate taxes. A married person automatically inherits all the property of his or her deceased spouse without paying estate taxes. A gay or lesbian taxpayer is forced to pay estate taxes on property inherited from a deceased partner.

Plus there are more than 1,000 federal benefits & protections of marriage that are denied to gay couples as a result of the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines “marriage as only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife; and (2) “spouse” as only a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or wife.

So gay rights, yes, I’m all for it!  We still have a long, long way to go, but I’m confident we will move on the path towards equal rights for all, regardless of one’s sexual orientation.

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