Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Separate is NOT equal

Reports indicate that today President Obama, whose GLBT supporters have grown frustrated with his slow movement on their priorities, is extending benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees. Read the full story here.

So, basically the federal government is saying 'We will now recognize that GLBT employees have spouses/partners, and we will extend some benefits to them'.

"How nice!!" you might be thinking. But is it?

On the surface this sounds like a 'victory for the GLBT community'. But in reality it is little more than a benefits increase for federal employees, who already have better benefits than most, and a 'consolation prize' for the GLBT community by the Obama for not keeping his campaign promise to repeal DADT and DOMA.

Let's break this down a little bit.

By extending some benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees the administration has created yet another class within the benefits hierarchy.

Separate is NOT equal.
At the top of the food chain are married hetero federal employees. They get all benefits for themselves and their spouses. They get everything.

Following closely behind, but still not equal, are partnered GLBT federal employees. They'll be able to get some, but not all, benefits for their spouses.

Last and apparently least are partnered GLBT folks NOT employed by the government. Their spouses aren't even recognized by most of their employers. Those whose companies can still afford to provide employees with benefits do so, but employees are lucky to get even 1/2 the benefits of government employees, and still can not get them for their spouses.

And don't misunderstand the administration's granting of some benefits to mean all benefits. GLBT federal employees will still not be equal to their hetero counterparts. GLBT federal employees' pensions may not be transferable to their unmarried partners, while their hetero counterparts' pensions automatically transfer to their spouses. Surviving GLBT partners may still have to pay inheritance taxes on the property they co-own with their deceased partner, while hetero surviving spouses pay nothing because they're married.

Separate is NOT equal.
Its frustrating to think that all of this inequality could be eliminated if Obama's efforts were put toward marriage equality for all citizens, instead of added benefits for a portion of citizens.

And think about all the time and money that will be spent defining the benefits. Marriage automatically imparts over a thousand legal rights and responsibilities. They're already defined. Granting marriage equality would automatically make hetero and GLBT citizens equal under the law.
Civil unions create a separate and not equal class, and would allow the potential for only some (not all) benefits to be obtained.

Granting expanded benefits creates yet another separate and not equal class within the GLBT community itself, and suffers the same potential for only some benefits to be obtained.

The granting of benefits to same-sex partners of GLBT federal employees follows suspiciously close on the heels of Obama's recent support of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), itself a contrary act from his campaign promise. I wonder if he felt he needed a 'consolation prize' to appease the gays.

America did not grant Blacks 'separate' rights, nor did we call them anything other than 'married' when Blacks were granted the right to do so. So why should GLBT Americans settle for 'separate' rights and be called something other than 'married'?

Separate is NOT equal. Never has been; never will be.

Crush du Jour: Kellan Lutz


Bob said...

It's getting harder and harder to like that guy.
I want to have hope...........but.

Kailyn said...

OK. Let me first state that I am for equality.

The problem as I see it, when laws were first created in this country regarding the union of two people, they chose to use a religious term. Many other countries do not have this problem because marriages -- religious ceremonies -- and civil unions -- legal ceremonies -- are two separate and distinct things. As such, it is my opinion that all existing laws be rewritten so that ALL legal ceremonies are civil unions. Then again I also happen to be a big believer in separation of church and state.

wcs said...

hear, hear!

My word verification: comhomi. Strange.

Steven said...


I often wonder what the "flood gates" would be like if every person in this country was protected from every inequality, injustice, and discrimination...say on July 4th. The "number" could be much more than 10%. :-)

Perhaps the only thing someone would have to worry about is rejection by his/her own family. And while this is easier said than done, if they didn't love you enough to support your "coming out," are they worthy enough to be loved back?