It's Only Civil

Location: Wisconsin, United States

I'm an ex-fundamentalist PK (Preacher's Kid) gone good. I live in Wisconsin with my partner of almost 5 years. We hope to be adding to our family in the near future. Currently, my hot topic of interest is the proposed constitutional ban on civil unions and marriage for gay and lesbian folks in Wisconsin. I love Wisconsin and have no interest in living anywhere else, but I feel slapped in the face almost daily by those who are pushing this amendment that could threaten all legal protections for gay families and which will affect my family personally. My blog will likely be focused on this issue - might throw in a bit of other things just for kicks though.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Coretta Scott King

This morning I heard of the death of Coretta Scott King.

The gay and lesbian community has lost a friend, to be sure. (quote on It's Only Civil)

But the greater loss, besides to her family and close friends, is to the larger quest for equality for all. King served our country and world well and with grace. She brought us closer to where we should be in our move toward peace and equality.

I hope those of us who do the work now will make her proud.

Thank you, Coretta. We will miss your presence.

Friday, January 06, 2006

The threat revealed...

It's been said over at No On the Amendment and on Marc Pocan's site, but it bears repeating - the evidence is clear that this is no mere "defense of marriage" amendment - this is a move to permanently deny legal protections and other benefits of any type to gay and lesbian families - it's not about marriage, it's about gay people and some folks who don't like who we are or who we love.

Appling, the director of Family Research Institute of Wisconsin, may couch her support of the amendment in language of defense of an institution and tradition and say that it's not about denying gay people rights, but it is. And she made that clear in a recent State Journal article when she came out as opposed to the dental insurance program for state employees being opened to domestic partners - at absolutely zero cost to the taxpayer.

The program as it stands allows an employee to purchase - completely at their own expense and with no tax benefit whatsoever - dental insurance for their partner.

The comments by Appling and by Rep. Gottlieb make it the intent behind the amendment clear:

If they can't even sit still for gay couples being allowed to purchase dental insurance out of their own pockets for their families, then this is about more than a "defense of marriage". I hope they at least have the integrity to drop the evasive language and be honest about what they know to be a threat to all current and potential future protections for gay families...

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

So not single...

There are several things in the Appling interview over at WisPolitics that I’d like to respond to – this is the first.

Do you think this amendment - at all - would infringe on the civil rights of gays?

Well, first of all, they have the same civil rights as I have, same civil rights as you have, the same civil rights that every other citizen of the state has. The right for them to marry has never been there, because they're choosing not to meet the criteria of the law because our law says, not in clear enough terms but by current interpretation, you need to be of the opposite sex and the right age and all of that.
So, they haven't, just like I as a single person, don't have the hospital visitation rights, the inheritance law rights, all those benefits. I don't have those any more than they do as a same-sex couple. So, it's hard for me to understand how we are denying rights that they never had. It seems to me that to deny someone (rights) you have to have had them at some point. But there are legal means very readily available for people to get the benefits that they think they want with inheritance and hospital visitation and real estate transactions and all of that. (italics added)

Besides my cringing at language that sounds very similar to "they have the right to an education - it just happens at a different school", this is my response Appling's comments:

I actually had this discussion with my mother when she finally said "you're single" and I said "no, I'm not" (there was more to it...) -

The point is, I'm NOT single. I am in a committed, long term,loving, devoted, monogamous relationship with the love of my life. I made that commitment publicly in front of my family, my friends and my God. It is only the state that doesn't get it. And as a non-single person, I need the right to hospital visitation with my partner. I need the right to co-own property and to not have that threatened if one of us dies. I need the right to share in the benefits provided other couples in order to have some stability for my family. I'd like to have a 401K rollover to my partner rather than having her lose a good portion of what I worked for just because somebody doesn’t agree with who I love. I'd like to have equal shared health benefits (the benefits that my company provides us are not equal because the IRS and federal law requires that they not be equal).

Appling claims I can get these things from legal contracts - but that is either an outright lie, or a huge misunderstanding. I cannot get these things from a legal contract. (nor should I have to, I don't believe, spend thousands of dollars to acquire simple family benefits that others take for granted) If I were single, like Appling, I wouldn't need these things - because I would not be part of a unit. But I am. I have devoted my life to my partner and my family and in all these little ways and many more, the current law fights our stability and well-being. When we have a child, it will affect her or him also.

Since we don't already have these rights, Appling is right in that this amendment won't take them away - but she misses (deliberately?) two things:

1 - some of us have some of these rights and those will be threatened or taken away by this amendment and
2 - the amendment does something never before done - it uses the constitution to make sure that I and my family and other gay people and their families can never get these rights and will always be required to be treated unequally.

But it's far easier from her campaign perspective to de-emphasize or neglect or mislead about these things... far easier to not look at how this amendment will truly affect real people here in Wisconsin.

For other folks' experiences with the I'm NOT single issue, see Action Wisconsin's NoOnTheAmendment blog. (this link added 2/14/06)