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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Why Yes, I'll Legally Discriminate Against You

Disclaimer: I am not trying to be funny, snarky or offensive with this post.

As most of you know, either on this blog or on Facebook, I have no problem shooting my mouth off on things that bug the crap out of me. One of the things that has been bugging me and fact, always bugs me, is a silent side issue when the hot button topic of gay marriage rears its non-ugly head.

For those of you who may have been unconscious or been preparing for the apocalypse, this week the Supreme Court has taken up the thorny issue of gay marriage. While I have a basic idea of where everyone in my blog world and/or Facebook stands and everyone has a basic idea on where I stand (fence straddler, my main beef now is the word "marriage", and it took a lot of years to get to this point), this point isn't about that.

It's about the one last legal form of discrimination that is tolerated: discrimination against single hetero couples.

I won't go into the history of gay marriage and/or civil rights for gays because you already know what they can and can't legally do. However, what is being battled for by the gay community seems to disappear under the water when it comes to others.

For example: gays/lesbians in a civil union/domestic partnership in this state were always able to put their partner on their health insurance. That has changed slightly as in this state gays/lesbians can now get married. Of course, the state put the caveat in that in if you are gay and were in a civil union/domestic partnership and you wanted to keep your partner on your health insurance, you had to get married. No marriage, no insurance. Come to think of it, isn't this exactly what gay people are telling the guv'ment NOT TO DO: INTERFERING WITH THEIR PERSONAL LIFE.

However, because we don't have the concept of common-law marriage in Connecticut, a hetero man or woman who wanted to put their boyfriend or girlfriend on their health insurance can't. Even if they're in a long term committed relationship (just like gays/lesbians could be) and don't want to get married (just like some gays/lesbians might choose), they can't.

So explain to me, without using the tired cliche (at least to me) of  "well, they can always get married"*, why it's okay to discriminate and treat hetero non-married couples in long term relationships like second class citizens. If it's illegal to discriminate against married couples for certain things and it's growing increasingly illegal to discriminate against gay married couples/gay non-married couples, why is it legal to discriminate against non-married couples?

*No, they don't have to get married. If it's not right for the guv'ment or anyone else to tell the gay community that they can't get married, then it's not right for you or anyone else to tell a hetero couple that they have to get married.

9 comments:

  1. I can see why the government might require some kind of signed document before allowing one person to put another on their insurance. However, it seems to me that signed document wouldn't have to be a marriage certificate. Sounds like someone needs to take up the torch for this. I've never been in this situation long enough to worry about it.

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  2. I'm surprised to hear that common-law relationships aren't recognized in Connecticut. I thought they were universally acknowledged across the U.S.

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  3. I agree. Opposite sex couples who aren't married should have common law relationship rights too. That's generally the case in Canada (except for Quebec, oddly enough -- left over Catholic influence? Yet Quebec has the highest number of CL relationships in the country. Their marriage rate has plummeted.)

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  4. Charles: In almost all cases, in order to put a new spouse on your health insurance, gay or straight, you need a marriage certificate. Same goes if you're putting a new child on, you need a birth certificate. If for instance, you're already married and applying for insurance for the first time at a new job, then a marriage certificte or a piece of paper stating you're married is not needed.

    S.R.: In my home state (Connecticut) they will recognize a common-law marriage for state tax purposes only if the couple came from a state that recognizes that type of marriage. That is the only exception to the rule.

    Debra: It does make sense. After all, if you can have rights as a married couple (gay or straight) then why not as a couple in a long term committed relationship.

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  5. This is a really interesting point... you can't even say that marriage is an assurance of absolute stability, since half of marriages end in divorce. So really, there's not much difference between a couple who chooses to marry and a couple who chooses to maintain a long-term relationship. Definitely something to ponder... :)

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  6. I agree. I don't understand why the marriage thing is a prerequisite for more rights or benefits, it's ridiculous.

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  7. Lisa: Technically, no, there isn't that much difference between a long term relationship (straight or not) and a marriage (again, straight or not).

    But the guv'met, whether on the federal level (which really isn't worth diddly) or on the state level (which is where everything truly comes to rest), does make that distinction, and does create harsher penalities and restrictions for those who choose not to get married.

    M: It's the way things have worked out over the past few centuries. Being married allows you a slew of benefits, while being single does not.

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  8. It seems to take decades for the laws to change in order to catch up to what is now considered the "norm". Here each province has various laws about common-law relationships and how long it is before the living-together-in-a-committed-relationship couple are allowed the same privileges (if that's even the right word) as a married couple. And these laws are changing rapidly. I think, though, if a couple really wanted to take advantage of the benefits of marriage, they should get married. Why not? It doesn't mean anything to some people, so why not take advantage of what is available? I know - I'm crazy! :)

    Happy Easter, G!

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  9. Talon: It does make sense on the surface to take advantage of the marriage option in order to get the most that you can get.

    But marriage isn't for everyone, and in all honesty, if someone doesn't want to get married the traditional way yet are very happy being married the non-traditional (common-law) way, why shouldn't we make it easier to do it?

    It seems to me, if you're going to give the option to those who sincerely want it, then you should give the option to those who do not want to take that last step.

    And you have a happy Easter as well. :D

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G. B. Miller

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