Commonwealth of Massachusetts refusing to recognize same-sex marriages and adoptions

On the state virtual gateway for getting info about our family's state health insurance, they have Spousal Unit and I listed as one another's spouse.

They also have me listed as our child's "mother" and spousal unit as child's "stepmother." "Stepparent," while often someone who provides amazing parenting to a child, is not someone who is fully a legal parent to said child.

We jointly adopted said child in Massachusetts, as a married couple. On our health insurance application, we listed ourselves as spouses and our child as our child.

Apparently the people who manage the healthcare benefits decided that the family relationships we have that are backed up by a bunch of legal paperwork aren't actually real.

Nice to see that the supposed equal rights laws haven't actually gotten us equal legal status.



EDITED 02/15/13:
They've now updated it so we are both the parents of our child. The computer had no problem allowing this. The person who entered our information did indeed change what we entered to match their homophobic assumptions.

Hey Commonwealth of Massachusetts! Your own Department of Public Health offers free trainings on providing appropriate customer service to LGBT folks. Maybe sign yourselves up for some?


3 comments:

Mark said...

So, while I have no doubt that the reason your wife is listed as "Stepmother" is discriminatory (ie, some bureaucrat just made assumptions) I'm also quite confident that it's an error, and not a policy decision. "Refusing to recognize" makes it sound like you've notified them of the error and received a discriminatory response.

realsupergirl said...

I am sure you already sent a note about this to all the appropriate officials. Grrrr.

eeka said...

I talked to a state supervisor, who wasn't sure what the system allowed, assured me that the way my family was entered couldn't have been because of lack of training or ignorance around different types of families, and said she'd send an e-mail to the regional people and ask them to change the relationship if possible.

Mark, "discriminatory" doesn't necessarily imply malice, and it usually doesn't involve malice. Sine 1990, Massachusetts has allowed a child to have two same-sex legal parents. I'm thinking the state isn't using a computer system that predates 1990. Even if they were, and even if same-sex parenting were new in this state, it's not OK for them to keep using a computer system that sends a discriminatory message or to continue to have staff who aren't properly trained as to which family relationships are legally permitted in the state.

These messages cause real harm. My child is harmed by the constant messages that a family has one male and one female biological parent, oh, but we didn't mean any harm, uh, and we'll just cross out the form so it works for you, and you can't possibly have been sent any sort of harmful message by the fact that the people in charge are clearly not thinking about your type of family when they make policies about families.

Imagine if the state were using a computer system that was, say, telling healthcare providers to administer twice as much of a childhood vaccine as is correct. Would we just say, well, it's an old computer system, and obviously no one intended to harm children, and the providers can just administer the right amount? Of course not. We'd immediately stop using the computer system and put something in place so that children aren't harmed. Discrimination is real, and it harms children. It's not an excuse to say that someone just made a mistake, and since it wasn't intentional, it's OK to continue to harm children and families.