Rights and benefits denied

by lestro

After reading this article in today’s New York Times, it is literally impossible to continue saying that marriage does not provide certain rights and benefits that are being denied to an entire class of people (to use the legal term) while being bestowed on another.

And that is wholly unamerican and unconstitutional.

Today’s article is about health care and how difficult it is for gay couples to get the same benefits married couples get simply by signing a legal contract denied to a certain percentage of the population:

Same-sex couples have been making headlines; Maine followed the lead of Iowa and Vermont this week in legalizing same-sex marriage, and several other state legislatures are now considering it. But Ms. Hudson says that fairer and more comprehensive health care coverage for partners — whether they are legally married or not — is not necessarily part of the package.

“For the vast majority of gay couples,” she said, “getting health insurance for a domestic partner is still a challenge.”

[…]

Even if the relationship is formalized with the state in a marriage or union, that does not always obligate the employer to cover a same-sex spouse. For one thing, self-insured employers are not regulated by the states.

And other benefit-providing employers that choose not to offer such coverage can sometimes use the Defense of Marriage Act — a law that forbids the federal government to recognize same-sex marriage — to trump state laws, said Ilse de Veer, a principal with Mercer.

Let’s review the 14th Amendment while we’re at it, just to make sure we understand why all this is illegal:

…No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws…

Without a doubt, gay people are not getting equal protection under the laws, especially in health care.

Let’s go back to the article and look at all the ways gay people are not provided the same equal protection under the law as straight people:

Many employers and insurance companies require proof of a domestic partnership before you can qualify for benefits. One of the most common documents is an affidavit signed by both partners, explaining the details of the relationship.

or this:

Unlike married couples, domestic partners must pay federal and sometimes state taxes on health care benefits. That’s because the Internal Revenue Service counts the value of the domestic partner’s benefit as income for the employee. What’s more, pretax dollars from an employee’s flexible spending accounts or health savings accounts cannot be used to cover the domestic partner’s benefits.

and this:

With individual policies, though, depending on the insurer, you may have to prove you are a legal custodian of your partner’s child, said Ms. Hudson.

this too:

Because Cobra is a federal law, employers are not obligated to offer this coverage to unmarried partners, but many do, says Ms. de Veer.

All of those things can be taken care of with a simple marriage license, which is a legal contract between two consenting adults and has not a goddamn thing to do with religion, something we do not allow this percentage of the population to sign simply because they are a minority.

This is America goddamn it and just because you don’t like something doesn’t mean you can outlaw it. Which is  basically what the Constitution and specifically the 14th Amendment says.

For example, I don’t like Fundamentalists and think they are a threat to America, but we can’t outlaw them either…

3 Responses to Rights and benefits denied

  1. awfrick says:

    I can’t believe people don’t get this.

    Marriage equality is a civil rights issue, and making the GBLT community second-class citizens helps no one.

  2. I agree completely. It hasn’t been that long since the USSC ruled in Lawrence v. Texas that it is no longer illegal to be gay, which made that pillar of anti-gay laws unavailable to those who seek to justify second-class citizenship for the GBLT community.

    In declaring same-sex relationships entitled to respect, Lawrence also has advanced courts’ views of the harms to couples denied the freedom to marry. In Massachusetts, the high court deployed Lawrence to explain that “[w]hether and whom to marry, how to express sexual intimacy, and whether and how to establish a family — these are among the most basic of every individual’s liberty and due process rights.”

    http://www.lambdalegal.org/our-work/publications/general/building-marriage-equality.html

    via http://apocalyptickiwi.wordpress.com/2008/12/29/it-is-no-longer-illegal-to-be-gay-in-america/

    It hasn’t been that long since Lawrence v. Texas, but it was been way too long for a country that prides itself on freedom and equality to continue to drag its feet on marriage equality.

  3. Pingback: Family friendly? « The Church of the Apocalyptic Kiwi

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