Archive for the ‘beyond same-sex marriage’ Category
Such sad news: Paula Ettelbrick died last week. She was a good friend to AtMP. Everyone in our community should learn about her wise work. Please take a few moments to read some of the widespread coverage, and join our heartfelt condolences to her family.
June was a great month for AtMP! Four members were published in the NY Times in an ongoing discussion of same-sex marriage.
- On June 23, Katherine M. Franke’s op-ed, “Marriage is A Mixed Blessing” was published. In the article, Franke voices her concerns about the pressure for same-sex couples to marry. She wonders whether these couples will be able to hold onto the rights and benefits they currently have even if they choose to stay unmarried. Franke also points out the reality that many same-sex couples have found and developed ‘nonmarital ways of loving’ and do not intend to abandon them now that same-sex marriage is legal in New York.
- On June 27th, Nancy D. Polikoff’s letter to the editor was released in response to the article “New York Opens Doors to Gay Weddings.” Polikoff was worried her employer would end domestic partner benefits once DC passed legislation allowing same-sex couples to marry. Since the state enables both same and different-sex couples to register as domestic partners, they are able to adequately care for one another. Financially intertwined partners are eligible for domestic partner benefits.
- Kevin Maillard’s opinion piece, “Are Religion and Marriage Indivisible?” presents slightly different concerns. He notes that the religious exemption regarding recognition of same-sex marriage has implications beyond the wedding day. Some religious traditions ignore the evolution of the modern family.
- And most recently, Judith Stacey’s opinion piece, “Unequal Opportunity,” counters the two main arguments about same-sex marriage in New York, 1) It “hammers the last nail in the coffin of an endangered, sacred institution” and 2) It is an “unadulterated victory for equality, democracy and human rights.” Instead, Stacey proposes it puts social pressure on more couples to marry and worsens discrimination against unmarried people. She concludes her article by urging the “need to develop family policies that give greater recognition and resources to the growing array of families formed.” *We urge all AtMPers to follow this article with Nancy Polikoff’s fantastic book, Beyond (Straight and Gay) Marriage.
The reality is clear, many families are still unable to care for one another despite same-sex marriage being legal in seven states.
What do YOU think?
The Alternatives to Marriage Project represents a broad coalition of individuals and families who believe in choice and fairness. Freedom to marry should be one of those choices – as should freedom not to marry yet still be treated fairly under the law.
And did you see bell hooks’s fabulous quotation about the importance of alternatives to marriage vs. “marriage equality” in the print edition of Ms. Magazine? It’s worth the cover price! Here’s another presentation of her wise words, from the Ms. Blog:
I think the emphasis should return to the core struggle, which is the struggle for civil rights, the protection of anybody in long-term partnerships, and that should include a friend. There’s just a whole world of need out there, and need for respect for caregiving, for who does the work.
Great news: the executive branch will stop defending the section of the Defense of Marriage Act that prevents the federal government from recognizing state-authorized marriages that are not configured as one man + one woman. Does this open the door to regulatory recognition of same- and different-sex domestic partnerships and civil unions, or only same-sex marriages? For example, does it obviate the need for legislative action to end taxation of DP benefits as income, or to give plus-one benefits to federal employees? Legal eagles, please advise!
Facebook will start letting users pick domestic partnership and civil union in its list of relationships.
Ever-single, 83-year old, non-violent intellectual Gene Sharp is credited with “inspir[ing] dissidents around the world, including in Burma, Bosnia, Estonia and Zimbabwe, and now Tunisia and Egypt.” I’m inspired, too!
Professor Nancy Polikoff’s blog Beyond Straight and Gay Marriage is always worth reading (and you can always find it here, lower right side of your screen). This week she posted big news that I know you care about. You simply must check it out!
- 35,000 Michigan state employees to gain “plus one” health benefits
- Illinois civil union law signed today — more equality yet more injustice
- Penn Law Review hosts debate on arguing for marriage
AtMP has seen important progress on unmarried people’s rights since its founding in 1998. But now I worry that the trend might be starting to slip into reverse. Two recent court decisions – both hailed as gay rights victories – actually highlight the dangers of using marriage as an exclusive public policy ideal, instead of valuing all individuals, caring relationships and families.
While celebrating that California’s Prop 8 was overturned and same-sex couples may regain the right to marry there, our friends Rachel and Bella DePaulo point out that the judge and the winning lawyers elevated marriage and disparaged alternatives to marriage, to an extraordinary and unnecessary extent.
The ruling does not affect unmarried heterosexual couples who also gained coverage as part of a change in state policy pushed through by the administration of former Gov. Janet Napolitano. Absent some change in policy — or a different lawsuit — they will lose their domestic partner benefits at the end of this year. Attorney Dan Barr said the lawsuit did not cover these “straight’’ unmarried workers because they are in a different legal situation: Unlike gays, they can get married to obtain benefits.
In essence, both court cases say “if you can get married, you should, and the burden’s on you if you don’t.” We see parallels in the private sector: both Google and Syracuse University are reimbursing income taxes their employees pay on health benefits for same-sex but not different-sex partners.
Today I had a very pleasant and helpful conversation with an attorney at Lambda Legal. I learned that lawyers have a hard time making an equal protection claim for different-sex couples. To paraphrase, at least two courts have ruled that ‘choosing not to drive a Cadillac does not give someone the right to drive a Pinto.’
I’m not a lawyer, but my instinct says that a winning case would have to demonstrate that being domestic partners or staying single are better options than marriage for a significant group of people. We’d have to prove that marriage is the Pinto, not the Cadillac. Obviously, many AtMP members believe this is true for themselves. Can we build a legal argument to that effect? Can we build one that overcomes the lens of traditionalism through which judges and business leaders see the world?
Well it’s about time! The Unmarried Blog has finally started a blogroll (at right). The handful of blogs listed today are those that I have personally followed for quite a while. Please suggest others via comments.
You’ll also notice a list of editors. We’ll soon be introducing several new editors who have joined our team in order to bring you more and better posts about alternatives to marriage. And, we’ll soon post guidelines for writing guest posts.
What does the Alternatives to Marriage Project have to do with Prop 8? Very little! But we were mentioned during cross-examination anyway, so let’s clear up some misunderstandings and provide some context here.
One live-blogger described it like this:
Thompson begins making the case that because Cott supported an organization called Alternatives to Marriage, started by a heterosexual couple to validate cohabitation as a valid choice, that this implies she is also a proponent of poly-amorous relationships.
Cott –“I don’t support poly-amorous marriages.”
The tension is thick. Cott is clearly annoyed by Thompson who is firing off question after question with smug intent to make her look stupid.
The San Francisco Chronicle heard it a little differently:
In cross-examination, David Thompson, lawyer for the Prop. 8 campaign committee, sought to portray Cott as a biased advocate who had once endorsed a statement by a group advocating “alternatives to marriage,” which he said included multiple partners.
Cott said she had only been endorsing the right not to marry.
Thompson’s attempt to make something good sound bad revives the attacks that Professor Cott and other withstood many years ago, for signing AtMP’s 2000 Affirmation of Family Diversity. It is similar to the attacks withstood by Professor Chai Feldblum for signing the 2006 Beyond Marriage statement, before her Senate confirmation to serve on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in late 2009.
Many AtMP members are uncomfortable with the idea of polyamory, while some see it as not only a valid but their own alternative to marriage. Similarly, many AtMP members are uncomfortable with the idea that couples are treated differently than individuals, while some would never question that.
Our official practice, like that of many of our members, is to use the term different-sex instead of heterosexual (or straight), recognizing that one can’t tell a couple’s sexuality by their sex (picture a lesbian legally married to a gay man).
Finally, AtMP does not advocate any particular lifestyle or relationship structure. We advocate fairness and equality for all, whether or not people are married or in romantic relationships.
Anyway, we’re delighted to be connected (if only very minimally very long ago) to Professor Cott and highly recommend her book Public Vows: A History of Marriage and the Nation.
The topic of same-sex marriage has been covered so many times, there’s not much more to say. But I do like the way AtMP supporter and Columbia Law professor Katherine Franke puts it.
If you live in Washington DC you probably know this already, but it’s worth celebrating the fact that the DC Council decided not to shut down its domestic partnership registry. Congratulations and thank you to all the AtMP members who emailed the Council, and especially to Board Chair Meaghan Lamarre for testifying at the Council hearing.
If you follow health care reform, you might have heard that the House bill would end taxation of DP benefits (making them the cost equivalent of spousal benefits). Several news reports made it sound like this would apply only to same-sex domestic partners. This is a BIG peeve of mine. Why does the media (and the LBGT rights movement) consistently ignore people in different-sex partnerships (many of whom identify as B and T!)? Rest assured, the law applies equally to all partners. Many thanks to Pablo the intern for fact checking!
And thanks to Bruce and Marshall for bringing to my attention that domestic partners lost a legislative battle in Rhode Island. They sought the right to make funeral arrangements without being designated in writing in advance.
[Jan. 12, 2010 - a quick update: the RI legislature overrode the governor's veto on funeral arrangements.]
Totally aside, I’m fascinated that the phrase for ‘two steps forward, one step back’ in Afganistan is “Ten times we fought, two times we laughed.” Seems to me, 2-1 = 1, but 2-10= (-8). Another reason I’m grateful not to be in Afganistan.