12 June 2009

Letter to the President

Mr. President,

Words can't adequately convey how disappointed I am by your decision to have the Justice Department file a brief opposing a challenge to the federal Defense of Marriage Amendment. Despite your stated opposition to DOMA during the campaign, it seems that you now feel that denying same-sex couples the same benefits as heterosexual couples is a legitimate means of "preserving scarce government resources".

In other words, equality is too expensive.

I have been with my partner for over six years. I am fortunate that my employer counts her as a "spousal equivalent" for the purposes of health insurance; however, unlike my straight married co-workers, the IRS considers this to be a taxable "fringe benefit". I also know that should my partner outlive me, she will not be eligible to receive my Social Security benefits; the same benefits that I've worked for all my life, just like any heterosexual person, would be denied to my spouse solely because we are both female.

How is it fair that I should be treated differently from any other taxpaying citizen based on my sexual orientation? How is this anything other than gross discrimination? Why is it acceptable to the U.S. Government to define my relationship as “less-than” because of my gender and my partner’s gender?

I was excited about your election. I honestly never thought that a family that looks like my family would ever be the First Family of the United States. I was also pleased that during the campaign, that you said you would be a "fierce advocate" for LGBT equality. However, since taking office, you have repeatedly and clearly sent the message that I am still a second-class citizen in the country of my birth, this time because of who I love rather than the color of my skin.

Fifty years ago, had either my partner or I of been male, we would still have been denied the right to have our marriage legally recognized in many states because I am black and she is white. Would the Justice Department have filed a similar brief to argue that interracial marriage should not be recognized by the Federal Government? Would you have argued that it’s more important that the government not spend tax money by denying benefits to taxpayers if they happen to fall in love with someone of another race?

If it’s not acceptable to tell me that I can’t marry the person I love because she’s white, why is it not only acceptable but desireable to tell me that I can’t marry the person I love because she’s a woman?

I truly did think better of you, Mr. President. I believed that you meant what you said. How sad to see that your words were empty. It seems that “change” and “hope” are only available for some Americans—not for all.


"The constitutional propriety of Congress's decision to decline to extend federal benefits immediately to newly recognized types of marriages is bolstered by Congress's articulated interest in preserving the scarce resources of both the federal and State governments. DOMA ensures that evolving understandings of the institution of marriage at the State level do not place greater financial and administrative obligations on federal and state benefits programs. Preserving scarce government resources — and deciding to extend benefits incrementally — are well-recognized legitimate interests under rational-basis review. See Butler, 144 F.3d at 625 ("There is nothing irrational about Congress's stated goal of conserving social security resources, and Congress can incrementally pursue that goal."); Hassan v. Wright, 45 F.3d 1063, 1069 (7th Cir. 1995) ("[P]rotecting the fisc provides a rational basis for Congress' line drawing in this instance."). Congress expressly relied on these interests in enacting DOMA: Government currently provides an array of material and other benefits to married couples in an effort to promote, protect, and prefer the institution of marriage. . . . If [a State] were to permit homosexuals to marry, these marital benefits would, absent some legislative response, presumably have to be made available to homosexual couples and surviving spouses of homosexual marriages on the same terms as they are now available to opposite-sex married couples and spouses. To deny federal recognition to same-sex marriages will thus preserve scarce government resources, surely a legitimate government purpose."

This is from the US Justice Department's filing in a challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act in California. This paragraph effectively says that it's okay for me to be taxed on Ruth's health benefits when my straight married co-workers spouses' benefits are tax-exempt--because there's only so much money, and the government has to preserve resources. If I die, Ruth doesn't get my Social Security benefits, and oh well, I guess that's the Gay Tax.

I distinctly remember Obama promising to work to repeal DOMA during the campaign. Yeah, only not so much.

10 June 2009

Simple Answers to Stupid Questions

First, a man kills 2 people and injures 6 others when he starts shooting up a children's musical performance at a Unitarian church. His motive? "Liberals are a pest like termites, millions of them...the only way we can rid ourselves of this evil is kill them in the streets, kill them where they gather." 

Then, someone else murders Dr. George Tiller in his church. Because for the people who think violence is the way to control women and their scary sexuality, life begins at conception and ends at birth.

So when do we start rounding up all the old white guys? Or is it only "terrorism" when it's Skeery Brown People doing the killing?

Don't answer that.