Bay Area Reporter misquotes eeka

This article about the pros and cons of continuing to have domestic partner systems quotes me throughout. The direct quotes are all things I said, and the article is pretty nicely done overall.

Just to clarify, I definitely didn't say I think it's fair for the Boston Globe to stop providing domestic partnernship benefits. I said quite the opposite regarding entire companies taking away domestic partner benefits.

I did say something during the interview about how I don't think it's particularly fair for couples who can marry to do things like get domestic partner health insurance at work but then use "single" status in order to get low-income status. Couples in different-sex marriages don't have that right to have it both ways.

I absolutely think the Globe (and every other company) needs to continue providing domestic partner coverage until all people are allowed to marry. I did point out that marriage isn't an option for everyone, since a person in the military can be discharged and require to pay back their education costs for marrying a person of the same sex. Same thing with someone who works for an organization such as the Boy Scouts, where they can legally be fired if they marry. I do think that domestic partner benefits aren't necessary for different-sex couples, because they have the option of legally marrying.


Jodie said...

I understand the issue for those who can't marry; but why should a same sex couple who can get married (or plans to) get domestic partnership benefits during an engagement period but a different sex couple not? I realize that different sex couple has other benefits that they can take advantage of when they do get married, as same sex marriage is not recognized federally, but access to health care is an issue for everyone, regardless of who they spend their life with. That a different sex couple may save extra money on their taxes federally is often not going to offset the cost of health insurance. (And of course, an unmarried different sex couple would still have to claim it as income for one). I don't really see what makes that fair.

eeka said...

Well, there are thousands more benefits than the tax benefits, and for some families, the amount of money they lose by not being able to marry is considerably more than the cost of health insurance.

One thought is that instead of getting rid of DP benefits entirely, an employer could have a policy for giving DP benefits to couples who can't marry. This isn't really feasible though, because it would require an attorney who's really well-versed in such things to determine whether an employee was eligible for "can't marry" status, and this would cost most companies even more unless they're a huge company. It also could open the doors to huge lawsuits, because it would mean the place would have an HR person on staff who's aware that someone has "can't marry" status, and that person could become disgruntled and use that information to harm people. This isn't nearly as likely when DP benefits are given to everyone, because then there's a whole huge file of papers just stating that people are a couple, without the additional documentation that such-and-so's partner is in the military, essentially redflagging that person as sabotageable.

So it's not fair, but it seems to be the most humane thing that can be done until there's federal marriage. If anyone has a problem with it being unfair (which is totally legitimate), then this should be an incentive for them to campaign for federal marriage.

Another thought though...a couple can go get married and instantly get benefits within a few days. DP status requires between 6 months and 1 year (depending on the company and on state laws) of living together, proof of joint financial obligations, and various types of proof that it's a legitimate relationship. It's a lot easier to marry someone to get benefits than to satisfy DP status to do so.

Jodie said...

Oh, I wouldn't suggest that anyone just become a DP only to get benefits. That's not really such a great idea. But if they go back to the original intention of DPs being a family of any gender that isn't married, it would balance the scales a little better, and for same sex-couples that can't marry, it doesn't become a "well, they must be gay if they have a domestic partner," cause if different-sex couples are domestic partners in some situations too...

An individual insurace policy comperable to the one that I have through work would cost over $7000 per year if one had to pay that on their own. I don't think my parents ever saved that kind of money by being married vs. not... and that includes the extra benefit my mom still gets on her house taxes for being the widow of a veteran.

federal marraige would be the best way to go, of course.