By Suze Orman
That nine states and the District of Columbia have legalized same-sex marriage is encouraging progress for those of us who believe that everyone deserves to have basic civil rights. But, even if every state in the country could pass a similar legislation, it would not be enough. What we need is for our federal government to step up and make this basic right a law of the land. Beyond the social discrimination, the refusal of our federal government to legally recognize same-sex marriages imposes steep financial penalties on same-sex couples. That two of the most costly penalties are triggered upon the death of one partner just adds to the ache of the senseless discrimination.
I have been with my partner, Kathy Travis, for 12 years. If I am lucky I will spend the rest of my life living and sharing my joys and happiness with her. We have worked very hard as a team to save for our future together and consider everything we have as equally owned by the other. If the federal government recognized same-sex marriage, then when one of us dies our assets would seamlessly transfer free of tax to the survivor. That’s a basic right that every heterosexual married couple has. But because there is no federal recognition of same-sex marriage, if I die first, or vice versa, before either of us can inherit what is now jointly our assets, there would be a federal estate tax bill that one of us would currently have to pay. Again, to be clear: If we were a heterosexual married couple, there would be no estate tax regardless of the size of the estate or who died first.This spring, the Supreme Court will weigh in on the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. The Court needs to do the right thing and end discrimination against gay couples. We all have 83-year-old Edith Windsor to thank for in pushing the issue of same-sex marriage equality on to the national front. Edie and her partner Thea were together for 40 years. How many marriages do you know that have lasted that long? But when Thea died in 2009, Edie was hit with a $363,000 federal estate tax bill because as a same-sex couple they were not eligible for the unlimited marital deduction. Are we really a nation that says it is fair and just to demand Edie pay a $363,000 penalty because she is gay?
There’s another penalty that’s even worse. Regardless of the size of their estates, every gay couple is discriminated against when it comes to Social Security benefits. Married heterosexual couples can maximize their Social Security retirement benefits by taking advantage of the highest-earner’s benefit. When both spouses are alive, the lower earner can opt to collect a monthly benefit check that is equal to 50% of his or her spouse’s benefit. For many married couples, that 50% spousal benefit is often much higher than what the lower-wage-earning spouse could collect based on his or her own earnings record. Most important, when the high earner dies, the surviving spouse is allowed to collect 100% of the deceased’s higher benefit. Because same-sex marriages aren’t recognized on the federal level, gay and lesbian couples are not eligible for Social Security spousal benefits. The lower earner cannot claim any benefits based on the higher earner’s benefit. A heterosexual couple married for just a few months is able to collect a federal benefit that same-sex couples who have been together for decades can’t. Are we really a nation that says that is fair?
Beyond those two glaring death penalties, health insurance is another area of severe federal financial discrimination against gay couples. I am so glad to see more employers extending health insurance benefits to same-sex partners. But because same-sex couples are not considered legally married under the eyes of the federal government, the dollar value of the health coverage is considered taxable income. A 2007 study estimated that this gay health insurance penalty costs same-sex couples an aggregate $178 million ($1,069 per household), while employers paid an additional $57 million in payroll tax on that taxable income. No heterosexual married couple or their employers pay that penalty. Again, are we really a nation that says that is fair?
The social and civil discrimination that persists as long as our federal government does not recognize same-sex marriage is inexcusable. Add in the financial discrimination gay and lesbian couples face and the current policy becomes all the more indefensible.
Click the header link above to watch the video.
color me once photo shoot!
check it out, y’all <3
A couple of us met with Sharon Needles today to talk about her use of racist images and epithets
and, gurl, it did not go well. She said that she has stopped saying the n word(and bragged that her friend has a timer on his phone to count how long it’s been since she last said it[gag]), although she said it a handful of times during the meeting. She said, at least three times, “I apologize if I hurt your feelings,” but refused to apologize publicly or issue a statement.
During the conversation I was so nice that I wanted to fucking slap myself. I told her that a white person dressing up like a nazi and shouting racist slurs in a room full of white people isn’t shocking or transgressive(y’all, that’s just what nazis do). I told her that I believe she can actually be transgressive and challenge oppression from her position. For a second I believed that she wasn’t a monster, just a foolish person with tons of unchecked racism and privilege. She informed us that we’d have to agree to disagree about whether or not her actions are problematic, and that she wouldn’t apologize publicly because she’s “a clown.”
We’re done begging for scraps of community. We’re calling for a national protest of Sharon Needles and the clubs who host her. We’ve created a tumblr for the purposes of organizing these protests.
Hey, white tumblr queers! Remember that time you reblogged our announcement about the protest in Atlanta and said, “Aw, shucks! Too far!” Well, she’s likely coming to your town so you need to get your shit together and join us.
Follow Hell No, Sharon Needles for updates!
Also, here’s an article about today’s conversation.
in which we talk about our respective first coming-outs
Also watch the video at the end.
I say it doesn’t matter if we flew here or we swam here, it matters that we are here and we are one group and let us stop trying to make a litmus test for who is considered gay and who is not.
“I’ve had enough of being a gay icon! I’ve had enough of all this hard work, because, since I came out, I keep getting all these parts, and my career’s taken off. I want a quiet life. I’m going back into the closet. But I can’t get back into the closet, because it’s absolutely jam-packed full of other actors.”
Femme is playing the original right now, so I had to share this.
HARRY POTTER: IT’S OKAY TO BE GAY
tw for slurs, specifically transphobic ones
I’m the co-chair, and organizer for a local outreach program that was just started in my town to help queer kids and allies.
I put together some “info handouts” and we’re all really excited about them.
Please let me know if you have ideas for more, or how we should change them to be even more inclusive.
Except for the definition of transgender on the fifth one, THESE ARE AWESOME. I kind of want to send that first one to my parents and my sisters.
The most well-funded organizations in the gay and lesbian movement do not provide direct legal services to low-income people, but instead focus their resources on high-profile impact litigation cases and policy efforts. Most of these efforts have traditionally focused on concerns central to the lives of nonpoor lesbian and gay people and have ignored the most pressing issues in the lives of poor people, people of color, and transgender people.
The “gay agenda” has been about passing our apartments to each other when we die, not about increasing affordable housing or opposing illegal eviction. It has been about getting our partnerships recognized so our partners can share our private health benefits, not about defending Medicaid rights or demanding universal health care. It has been about getting our young sons into Boy Scouts, not about advocating for the countless/uncounted queer and trans youth struggling against a growing industry of youth incarceration. It has been about working to put more punishment power in the hands of an overtly racist criminal system with passage of hate crimes laws, not about opposing the mass incarceration of a generation of men of color, or fighting the abuse of queer and trans people in adult and juvenile justice settings.
OMG YOU GUYS, WESTBORO BAPTIST CHURCH IS COMING TO MADISON ON SATURDAY! I AM EXCITE!
Got any brilliant recommendations for signs?
I feel that gay people not being able to get married for generations, forever, meant that we came up with alternative ways of recognizing relationships. And I worry that if everybody has access to the same institutions that we lose the creativity of subcultures having to make it on their own. And I like gay culture.
Introducing We’re Queer Out Here: Stories from small town and rural LGBT
Far too often, the narratives of small town and rural LGBT life have taken a back seat to the vision of urban queerness, in cities where spaces of acceptance, community, and organization are much more accessible. Those of us who grew up or currently live in small towns frequently do not have access to the same level of resources, organization, and community. Our stories, our difficulties, are often met with dismissive attitudes by our urban counterparts, who assure us that once we leave and make it to the city life will be different. What about those of us for whom such an exodus isn’t financially, socially, or otherwise materially accessible? What do we do? How do we organize? How do we ensure that we not only create a space and change for ourselves but for the next generation?
Let’s talk about it. Let’s share our stories, our strategies, our histories, our hopes for the future. Let’s talk about the ways that the urban vision of queer life doesn’t fit us, and about the ways that maybe we don’t want it to fit.
We’re Queer Out Here is a submission based Tumblr created specifically to highlight the stories and experiences of rural and small town lesbian, gay, bisexual/pansexual, transgender, and genderqueer people. No matter where your small town or rural community is in the world, your story, your voice, and your experience matters and we want to hear from you.