We stand on the brink of a new era, an inclusion in daily life for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people that is unprecedented. In the United States, the past two decades have produced remarkable gains in the recognition of same-sex families.
The most pervasive type of recognition has been through domestic partnership status in the workplace. This has allowed thousands of same-sex couples to get medical insurance for their partners and for their children. In many cases, this insurance would otherwise be too costly or not available at all.
One reason why medical benefits and insurance is so import is because the U.S. is the only industrial nation in the world that does not have universal health care.
While the benefit has been provided to offer equal pay for equal work to attract and keep high caliber workers, far greater numbers of non-gay couples have actually benefited. Of those businesses that offer to all kinds of couples, opposite-sex couples avail themselves of this benefit on the order of two-to-one of every same-sex couple.
Because the struggle for equality has made the greatest showing in workplace benefits, one wonders if this sign of equal treatment would have even happened if there had been universal health care.
Other than workplace benefits, the other area of gaining same-sex family recognition has been that of the “domestic partner registration.” While most state and city registrations provide no benefits at all, Vermont’s stands far ahead. This state offers “Civil Union,” a full-blown, next-of-kin status.
At the same time these “Unions” protect same-sex families and their children, it stands as one of the most striking examples of apartheid in the U.S.
While offering all the same laws triggered by legal marriage in Vermont, it is not recognized by the federal system. Hence no social security benefits for a same-sex spouse.
Nor is it portable to any other state. One toe across the state line and - SHAZAM – your relationship is transformed back to that of legal strangers.
“Where there’s life, there’s hope” - Dr. Who (the 3rd one)
Traveling back in time and space, we note that the first municipality offering domestic partner benefits - in Berkeley in 1984 - had the radical right proclaiming that domestic partner benefits were a wedge to get legal marriage. This was a total shock to those domestic partners just wanting to get time off to take care of an ill partner.
After Berkeley, right-wing folks started their campaign to wear out the usefulness of the term “slippery slope.” They warned that it was very bad to offer gay couples equal treatment, which they labeled “special rights.” They reasoned that items such as the right to medical benefits for a partner and for a partners kids, would only make them want even more benefits, such as the right to inherit from a partner without a will.
Give those uppity gay men and lesbians an inch and …
Now in the present, we note the Supreme Court of Massachusetts has ruled that legal marriage must be available to same-sex couples. However, this gain was not because of domestic partner workplace benefits, it was because of the state guarantee of equal treatment for all citizens:
“The Massachusetts Constitution affirms the dignity and equality of all individuals. It forbids the creation of second-class citizens. In reaching our conclusion we have given full deference to the arguments made by the Commonwealth. But it has failed to identify any constitutionally adequate reason for denying civil marriage to same-sex couples.” – Judge C.J. Marshall in the November 18, 2003 ruling
The court gave the legislature 180 days to make it so. Result: the radical right-wing folks have gone ballistic. While not obtained quite the way they thought it would be, this was the day they had forecast: the end of civilization, as we know it.
“It’s a free cosmos.” - Dr. Who (the 4th one)
More time travel here: Of the 20 or more suits for legal marriage that have been launched since 1971, Massachusetts is actually the fourth suit to win.
The Hawaii and Alaska legislatures re-wrote their state constitutions, depriving citizens of equal rights, rather than allow legal marriage. The Vermont court ruled that the legislature could provide either legal marriage, or some sort of an equal status. It opted for the separate-but-not-really-equal “Civil Union.”
The Massachusetts court allowed no such wiggle room. Legal marriage _must_ be available.
Where is the sin in sincere?
Anyone who has lived on a farm knows that all creatures, great and small, engage in homosexual activity. Some even bond for life. Scientists have documented homosexual activity among nearly all animal life forms. “Natural” means “what is found in nature.” It is clear that there is an important place for all forms of orientation in nature’s grand scheme.
However, for some in the radical right, using science to explain natural phenomena is simply not done. They hold the opinion that gay and lesbian people are, intrinsically, _un_natural. And further, because of that, they are sinful. Fortunately, their opinion is not shared by everyone.
Yet if one believes that being gay or lesbian automatically makes that person a sinner, it is good to remember that some who are held to be very sinful - such as murderers, adulterers, abusers, and those in prison – are, in fact, allowed by the state the right to marry. This is because, marriage has been understood to be a most personal right, and part of the heritage of the pursuit of happiness.
Those who work in the churches and temples decide what constitutes a sin. States do not.
Conversely, state law - including marriage laws - have never been defined by any church. And if it did, which of the hundreds of church denominations would make the rules?
Many churches offer same-sex marriage ceremonies. It is doubtful that the radical right would stand still and allow the many welcoming congregations set state policy.
a mini-movie script by Demian
Ext. Crossroads with traffic lights.
It’s a dark and stormy night.
Gene and Roger are in their car waiting at the stoplight. Roger is at the wheel.
Well, I thought the movie was great. I’d give it a thumbs up.
No way. Thumbs down. The set was sooo tacky.
A second car weaves toward the intersection where Gene and Roger’s car sits.
The light for Gene and Roger turns green. They start to drive into the intersection.
The second car gets a yellow, then red light. The driver hits the gas, running through the light.
Sound: Faint beep - beep - beep of a life sign monitor.
Int. Hospital Reception.
Sound: Ticking clock.
Gene, banged up and bandaged, walks unsteadily to the nurse on duty at the hospital reception desk.
Has there been any word on the operation, how is Roger doing?
I’m very sorry, Gene, but it’s come to my attention that you are not related to Roger.
I’m his partner.
Are you related by blood? (beat)
State law forbids us giving out any personal information.
Is he alive?
The sympathetic nurse remains silent.
Int. Small space.
Warm lighting in an ambiguous space with a plain background.
Camera moves in on a Large Glass Milk Bottle.
Once close enough, clearly visible inside the bottle, is a Marriage License.