Lawrence has made an important step towards true equality by taking up the possibility of a local registry of domestic partnerships. This would allow a centralized place where companies that choose to provide partnership benefits to check the status of their employees, and would allow hospitals and other institutions to verify the relationships between people.
The city is limited in what it can do with this registry, since state law forbids granting anyone but one man and one woman the right to marry or even “the rights or incidents of
marriage.” No one seems quite sure how far that extends, but it is generally understood to have been an attempt to block civil unions. Civil unions confer all of the rights and incidents of marriage, without the name. Domestic partnerships allow a formal civil recognition that two people have chosen to act as partners in each others’ lives, but doesn’t generally place any obligations on anyone to do anything about it. A company or government can choose to grant certain benefits to domestic partners, for instance giving them health insurance. Domestic partners do not get Social Security survivor benefits, do not get an estate tax exemption, etc.
Unfortunately, there are bigots who think even that minimal recognition is too much. On the day when we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr.‘s birth, some jerk writes an angry letter defending discrimination:
Some of our city commissioners want Lawrence to be a progressive city, i.e., we need to recognize diversity and be tolerant of everyone. They suggest we can do this by having a registry of domestic partners, i.e., same-sex unions.
We have a problem already. As I’ve said, domestic partnerships are not same-sex unions in any way resembling marriage or civil union.
The citizens of Kansas decided in a state referendum that marriage is a union between a man and a woman. Now, how different can these two positions be? First, married same-sex unions are unlawful according to Kansas law. Secondly, it would seem that both married and unmarried same-sex unions want the same benefits as lawful married couples. The gays want someone else to pay for their choice to disobey the law.
This all flows from his first error – equating domestic partnership with gay marriage. The final sentence is particularly egregious because “the gays” are not asking for anyone to pay for anything. They are asking that they be allowed to pay for their own health insurance for their whole household. This registry would cost nothing to anyone but the people who take the time to formalize their relationships.
I’ll leave it as an exercise for the reader to figure out how a “married same sex union” could lack the benefits of a legally married couple.
Health benefits seem to be a big concern to gay couples and why not? AIDS statistics show that the gays are a major part of these national afflictions. I recall when the gays were fighting for Lawrence to include them in the nondiscrimination part of the local human rights ordinance, which eventually passed.
If anyone can explain how the last sentence relates to the first sentences, please do so. Yes, people who are discriminated against on the basis of sexuality fought to be protected from such discrimination. Is that surprising? Is it related to health at all?
What is not surprising, but is disappointing, is that the letter-writer thinks that the only health care anyone needs is treatment for AIDS. HIV infections among straight men and women are increasing more rapidly than rates of infection among gays and lesbians. The number of HIV+ Kansans is relatively small, and the number of people with AIDS is even smaller. It is distributed among men and women, gay and straight. Given the cost of antiretroviral therapy, the population most concerned about HIV/AIDS is the poor and uninsured, regardless of sexual orientation.
This obsession by gays to have everything that legally married couples have will never end unless the gays realize that they are seeking the wrong thing (actually, even many married couples are doing the same).
No. The obsession of one group of people to be treated equally with the rest of society will end when that discrimination ends. Dr. King taught us that many years ago.
Jesus said, “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul?” This rhetorical question followed His comments that “If we were to follow Him, we must take up our cross daily and deny ourselves.” This truth is the only way for everyone to enjoy the benefits God has provided through His salvation in Jesus Christ.
I’m sure Carl felt just great about the way that he denied himself and his own self interest in this letter. Wait, let me rephrase that. I’m sure he felt just great about the way he denied other people and their needs in that letter. Pretty much the same thing, right?