Tuesday, March 3, 2009

It's about time

One thing I have never been able to figure out about the gay-marriage issue is why no one has sued state or federal governments over policies that confer benefits based on being married. In California, I think (but someone please correct me if I'm wrong!) that almost any policy that applies to spouses also applies to domestic partners (and I'm talking legally, setting aside whether hospitals or other institutions actually make it equally easy for partners to exercise those rights). But in other states, and in federal policies, there are all kinds of things that give benefits to married couples that are not available to 'domestic partners'. It has always seemed so strange to me that you could have one law that says "Group X gets this benefit", another law that says, "You are not allowed to be part of Group X", and not have the first law considered discriminatory. I assume it has to do with some legal issue about 'protected class' or appropriate grounds for 'discrimination', but it just seems wrong.

So I was really happy to hear that a group of same-sex couples and gay widowers in Massachusetts have finally filed a discrimination suit against the federal government over the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). I think the likelihood that they prevail is probably pretty low but I'll certainly be rooting for them...

3 comments:

Andrew Lightheart said...

Right on.

Change is coming...

onely.org said...

Wow, I've gotta admit, I'm stunned that no one has filed a discrimination suit yet. I don't follow legal issues as often as I should, so I think I must have just assumed it was being done/had been done and somehow failed (or whatever) already.

Go Massachusetts and all of those progressive folk.

(and I think you're right about the CA/domestic partner qualifications, but that is just my hunch, so I could very well be wrong!)

Thanks for the alert :)

-- Lisa at Onely

Clever Elsie said...

See, this is what is known as "singlism." (I have sociology expert Dr. Bella DePaulo to thank for that term!) It truly is the last accepted form of discrimination. And just about everyone accepts it. It's legally condoned because encouraging marriage encourages reproduction, and the government wants to encourage the birth of as many worker bees as possible. (Yes, that sounds cynical, but I hardly think it's because Capitol Hill finds marriage romantic.) The result is that we face discrimination whenever we pay our taxes, take out insurance, rent a car, book a hotel, and, in some states, interview for a job or apply for an apartment. Yep, marital status discrimination is perfectly legal in all those circumstances and many others.

Now that singles are edging out marrieds for the majority, I hope we'll finally see some change! It's not that I have anything against marriage. I think a lifetime commitment to another person is the most stable and beautiful basis for a relationship. But it's a personal matter, and I don't think those who can't or won't make such a commitment should be seen any differently in the eyes of the law.