How Gay Is This?

May 25, 2007

by alice

I was recently at a business dinner in Atlanta. After the usual business chatter, the three of us—a woman I’ve worked with on and off over the last few years, a woman I was meeting for the first time, and myself—moved the conversation from business to much more personal aspects of our lives. I’m not sure if this was because much of our conference focused on creating more meaningful business relationships, or if it was because the business dinner consisted only of women, but for whatever reason, by the end of the evening I had learned more about these women than I currently know about some of my close friends.

One of the women, we’ll call her Jane, lives in San Francisco with her partner and their 7 year-old son. I had known her before the dinner, so none of this was new information for me, but learning that her parents had disowned her because she is a lesbian and learning that more than half of her paycheck goes to different payments for her son because she and her partner are not recognized under the law as a married couple, meaning that she isn’t even recognized as one of her son’s parents, was new to me.

I’ve always felt that denying individuals from the gay community the right to marry their partners is discrimination. Now, however, after listening to Jane’s story, this form of discrimination enrages me.

I don’t understand why the law defines “marriage” as between a man and a woman. It isn’t like men and women are all that successful at it, so why make it an exclusive activity? We allow rotten people who are going to do horrible things to their significant other and future children to get married all of the time, but we put a caveat on marriage based on someone’s sexual orientation? This is backwards. If we are going to put a caveat on marriage, it shouldn’t have anything to do with one’s sexual activities, but whether or not they are in it for the right reasons, whether or not they are going to make good parents, etc.

Gays, lesbians, and transgenders are going to continue to be gay, lesbian, and transgender, continue to fall in love, and continue to create families together. None of this is going to change, in fact, it is only going to increase, regardless of the laws that are in place. We are doing more damage to our communities by making these individuals lives more difficult than for other individuals. It is all so 1950’s, it is discrimination.


  1. Alice,

    It’s unclear why your colleague is spending half her paycheck because of non-parent status. However, if she believes this is because she is not recognized as a parent, she may be misunderstanding California law.

    California recognizes domestic partnerships. A registered domestic partnership carries most of the same rights as marriage. There are areas where the overlap is less than complete. However, most of the state-related financial benefits of marriage — healthcare decisionmaking ability, community property, insurance access — are fully available to domestic partners in California. (However, this applies to state benefits only — Federal benefits such as Social Security follow federal law.)

    See also here for more details: http://nclrights.org/publications/ab205faq.htm

    If your colleague is in a long-term relationship with a 7-year-old son, and has not registered as a domestic partner, she should probably talk to an attorney about the potential benefits and consequences of registering.

  2. In response to Kaimi, I’ve asked for some clarification from my friend:

    When we spoke, my friend was referring to imputed income and the additional taxes she has to pay. California has strong domestic partner regulations but it won’t be until next year that domestic partners can file joint taxes and they still won’t be able to file federal taxes jointly because of the Federal Defense of Marriage Act (aka DOMA).California also has a DOMA but has strong Domestic Partnership laws- its sort of weird because instead of agreeing to find a solution to marriage- voters have decided against allowing gays to get married but are in favor of allowing gays (and unmarried heterosexuals) similar benefits to marriage- it’s the whole thing about the difference between civil and religious marriage- the government acts as if they are the same thing.

    My friend IS considered her son’s full and complete parent under California law and her partner’s full and complete partner under California law (My Mistake) BUT the Federal Government considers them legal strangers for the most part, she can’t apply for grants for her son or list him as a dependent on her Federal Taxes, to name two examples.

    She also provided me with language re: imputed income and the deductions. I did not include it because it didn’t seem necessary, however, if interested I can provide this language as well.

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