This post is the first of three suggested to me by my good friend Griff, who admirably answered my S.O.S. call for topics to write about in my blog.
Since this is one of my Anger Management Issues posts, I will be giving the disclaimer in modified form, which is due to the sensitive (and perpetually misconstrued) topic I'll be talking about: health benefits for gay couples.
The disclaimer: There will be very minimal foul language contained in this post. However, please keep in mind the following facts about me.
1) I have absolutely no problems with a person's sexual orientation. I don't ask because it's none of my business, and I believe a person should be accepted for who they are, not what they are.
2) I have co-workers who pursue the alternative lifestyle.
3) I work for a progressive state agency that I believe is in the forefront for helping children/teenagers tackle head on whatever GLBT issues they may be facing in their lives.
4) I still have some lingering issues about gay marriage, but I'm always respectful of other people's viewpoints.
5) This may sound self-serving and a waste of space, but I have been hammered so many times in chat rooms for my viewpoints that it has become necessary for me to state these particular things about myself right up front.
Now, to elaborate about the title of the post. Why is it that in order to correct one perceived inequality in one particular segment of life, we have to punish another segment?
Take for instance health insurance. A basic and necessary commodity that politicians and state governments are trying mandate and legislate to death on. A commodity that is very much a premium when one goes job hunting.
Why is it okay to offer it to married straight couples, to unmarried homosexual partners who participate in an officially recognized civil union/domestic partnerships, but not offer it to unmarried straight couples who are in the equivalent of a civil union/domestic partnership (called "common law marriage" in most states, but not universally recognized by most states)?
They meet all of the criteria as homosexual couples. Are they monogamous? Check. In a long term relationship? Double check. Unmarried? Triple check.
So why do we as a country, in order to end a particular type of discrimination against one segment of society (homosexuals), discriminate against another segment of society (heterosexuals)?
I have asked this particular question in the chat room forums on and off for about a year and a half, and most of the time I get a long-winded answer that can be boiled down to this sentence:
"Because if they want insurance, all they have to do is get married."
To which I usually reply, "Bullshit. If a person is in a long-term monogamous relationship and doesn't want to get married, why shouldn't they be able to get it?"
After all, as it's so derisively pointed out to me when I disagree about gay marriage, it's only a piece of paper so why get your panties in a bunch? yes, this has been said to me on numerous occasions.
And on numerous occasions, the following conversation is one that I would really like to have had with someone.
While yes it may be a piece of paper, why should the both of you who are single and unrelated, who don't really have that particular piece of paper and have been fighting for that particular piece of paper for the past decade, be singled out for special treatment?
"Because we don't have the same basic rights as married couples."
But you aren't married.
"Because we are gay/lesbian and have been discriminated against on slew of issues that married couples don't face because they're married."
But you aren't. For that matter, neither are straight couples, and they don't have the same rights that you're clamoring for, that married couples have.
"But we're partners in a loving and committed relationship."
So are unmarried straight couples. What makes theirs so different from yours?
If you strip it down to the nitty gritty, this is what you have at one end of the spectrum: two unrelated individuals, who because of their sexual orientations, are eligible for health insurance. All they have to do is prove that theirs is a civil union (unmarried straights can't really do that, if they did it would be called MARRIAGE) or a domestic partnership (again, unmarried straights can't do that either, because it would be called MARRIAGE), and they're eligible for health benefits.
At the other end of the spectrum, you have this: two unrelated individuals, who because of their sexual orientation, aren't eligible for health insurance. Unless they get married.
Why should we now show special favoritism towards one group in regards to health insurance, simply because of their sexual orientation? Why is it allowed for them to be able to simply show that they're in a monogamous long term unmarried relationship, yet for the same straight couple who chooses not to get married, be told, "Sorry, you don't get."?
Why? Can someone please tell me that?
And if you can, please try to tell me with an answer that doesn't use the following themes:
"Straights can get married" and "We are denied a slew of rights that married couples get (i.e. decisions about life or death for their partner)".
I've heard about one and half years of variations of those two themes in the chat rooms, and quite frankly, it does not do it for me.
On that note, all I ask is that you keep it clean and respectable. I don't moderate comments in this blog and I would like to keep that record intact.