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The Benefits Of Being Gay
Gay couples get screwed out of benefits, thanks to the ban against gay marriage:

Same-sex couples face colossal fiscal burdens as they age -- including the potential loss of tens of thousands of dollars in taxes and an average of $5,000 in yearly Social Security survivor benefits -- due to the denial of their right to marry, according to new research by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC).

A report to be released on Monday by HRC and the Urban Institute reveals that "widows" and "widowers" are heavily taxed on any retirement plan like 401(k)s or IRAs inherited from their partners, while heterosexual spouses can inherit the plans tax-free. Homosexuals are also charged an estate tax on the inheritance of a residence even if it was jointly owned -- a burden inapplicable for straight couples.

I'm visiting a tragically ill friend in the hospital in Manhattan, who's in an intensive care room with two other beds. One of those beds was occupied by an elderly gay man, who was conscious, but clearly extremely ill. His...well, "boyfriend" -- which doesn't begin to describe the relationship of this man -- was with him, caressing his face, mopping his brow. You see few couples of any kind of sexuality with the love between these two. I asked the caretaking man how long they'd been together, and he told me "30 years." These men are being denied marriage? Sick.

But, this article I linked to above brings up another issue. I just wrote a column on how marriage, if you're not looking to have kids, doesn't make sense anymore. (My philosophy: If straight people are allowed to not make sense, gay people should be allowed to not make sense as well.) But why are Social Security survivor benefits and other benefits and rights allotted to married people alone? We need a registered partner agreement in this country (like the PACS, Le Pact Civil de Solidarit╚, in France), which can be broken more easily than a marriage (ie, isn't forever), but is not a marriage either. People just sign a PACs in a municipalityÝs city hall, and they are registered as partners. To break it, one of them just does the reverse -- declaring themselves out of the PACs. Marrying another person is another way to end a PACS.

More and more, people in this country are engaging in serial committed relationships. The way we distribute benefits should reflect that. If you're in a committed relationship (like these men were) for 30 years, and don't believe in marriage (as I don't), shouldn't you be recognized as a committed partner to another person in benefits you've paid in, just like everybody else, and in other important ways? Copying the PACS for use in this country -- which allows for one partner to continue renting the apartment after the other partner's death, and health insurance benefits, and the right to visit the other in the hospital, among other things -- seems most sensible, and the fair thing to do.

Posted by aalkon at January 31, 2004 5:49 AM

Comments

I don't see why Bush is so worried about gay marriage. I don't know of a single gay man who would want to marry him. The only one with looks in that family is Jeb.

Posted by: Patrick at January 31, 2004 7:42 PM

The eldest of Jeb's three children, George Prescott Bush, did duty in recent campaigns as latin hearthrob figure to attract interest from young votors. I think he made the cover of People. Hubba hubba!

Lauren Bush is daughter of Neil and niece of W. She's worked as a high-fashion model in the States and Europe for Hilfiger and others. Grrrrr!

But why pick favorites? The whole family is just DREAMY!

Posted by: Crid at February 1, 2004 11:39 AM

Yeah, Jeb is a looker. Too bad they have such a repulsive political agenda.

Posted by: Patrick at February 1, 2004 7:03 PM

With a lot of make-up and the right lighting, Ari Fliescher had a nice frat house Jewish boy look going on.

Posted by: Lena at February 2, 2004 7:41 AM