Saturday, February 21, 2009

Heartbreaking

I don't know why, but right now I am more affected emotionally by the Prop 8 goings-on than I have been at least since the election.

There's so much anger on the other side about the possibility of an overturn, and I feel that so much of this anger comes from misinformation and ignorance... People don't understand how our political system works, people don't understand that gay people are just like everyone else, people don't understand that same-sex-headed families deserve access to the same civil protections as others.

This just breaks my heart. It is sometimes very difficult to feel happy about any little thing when there are whole segments of society operating to deny me and mine rights that they believe are fundamental and innate! By that kind of logic, yes, we are second-class citizens. I try very hard not to feel victimized by any of this nonsense, and just to live my life, but some days it's really hard, and today is one of those days.

I'm sure some people are thinking, "Hey, you're in Massachusetts now, so why not go ahead and get married?" And I do want to speak to that... We really do want to, but it's just so complicated! The only way I think it makes sense for us to do it is if we stay here in MA for school. Even so, despite the fact that there is full equal marriage here, it will be very, very complicated. We will have to file our state taxes as "Married filing separately", but our federal taxes will still be filed under "Single". For the purposes of anything administered by the state, we will be a married couple; for all federal purposes, we will have no legal standing whatsoever towards each other... Additionally, it will be our responsibility to keep track of what's what, and where.

We would also lose the opportunity to draw up the kinds of legal contracts that would protect us more generally, since those contracts are filed with localities and would be redundant to the marriage compact. However, it is the practice of most other localities and states to honor those kinds of general civil agreements, such as power of attorney or medical-decision agency, no matter which state they originate in. Many states either have laws specifically preventing the recognition of gay marriages from other states, or no specific legal obligation to uphold them. Technically speaking, standard contracts would protect us better in these cases than a proper marriage would, since there are few standing legal precedents for denying the validity of civil contracts on account of the sexuality of the people involved. Unless, of course, there are children involved, in which case lots and lots of places will deny the validity of legal same-sex civil agreements.

So as a married couple in Massachusetts, all our legal rights and obligations toward each other will dissolve every time we leave the state. For example, here in MA, our health insurance would be administered based on our status as a married couple; due to that, there's really no guarantee that it would have to be recognized as valid in other states. Just one example. Say we had kids... here in MA, our kids would belong to both of us under our marriage. Every damn time we left the state, say we wanted to take our kids to Disney World, we'd have to worry about whether the place we traveled to would recognize our shared parentage. People who are parents should consider this.... it hits home. And the opposition says that they want to protect families?

Even worse would be if we get married here and end up moving elsewhere for school. New York's public entities are under executive order to recognize gay marriages from other locales, but private entities (like some insurers, for example, but not others-it depends on how much New York state law regulates their business) are under no such obligation. That seems like a whole new can of worms. And DC has pretty strong domestic partnership law, but it's possible we'd have to dissolve our marriage (i.e. get a divorce!) in order to register as domestic partners in DC. It's also possible that we'd have to live in Maryland, where the domestic partner laws are very limited and where gay marriages from other places are expressly not recognized.

So, I'm just so disheartened about this today. Which is sad, because the opportunity to be legally married to my wife should be a thing of happiness, not sorrow.

1 comment:

  1. I always wondered how that worked... being married in one state and how other states would handle it. Thanks for filling me in :)
    I'm so sorry about all of this. I don't think the government (local or federal) should have the right to decide who can and cannot get married. It sucks that while you and I live in the same country we aren't afforded the same rights nor governed by the same laws.

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