Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Maine (& Nevada): Why Marriage Matters

OK, so the Yes on H8/Yes on 1 anti-equality forces are now saying they "don't oppose civil rights". Uh-huh. So they just want "equality by another name"?

Not really. After all, why did these same religious right forces fight SB 283 here in Nevada that isn't even marriage?

And by the way, Maine Domestic Partnerships are not even comprehensive like ours in Nevada. They're very limited to only a few medical decisions and property rights. Is this type of third-class (since it isn't even second-class) citizenship what Yes on 1 calls "equality"?

OK, so let's assume some of these Yes on 1 folks are serious about "changing" Maine's domestic partnership law to look more like Nevada's. I did my homework on SB 283, the domestic partner law that's now being practiced here in The Silver State. I did my homework and I know what's in the bill and what isn't. Let me give you the gist of SB 283.

[State Senator and SB 283 author] David Parks wasn't joking when he said that this is NOT marriage. While SB 283 provides for domestic partnerships (DPs) that are supposed to treat "domestic partnered" couples just like married spouses, let's remember that this theory doesn't always work out in practice. So while we celebrate the first major advance in civil rights in Nevada in decades, let's keep working toward the final goal of true civil marriage equality. [...]

But again, we must stress that DPs under SB 283 are not marriage and will not be treated by the federal government as such. Even if you and your partner file for a DP this fall, you will still not be able to file a joint federal tax return. You won't be able to receive any spousal benefits from the military or the VA. You won't be able to sponsor your partner for US citizenship or permanent residency if he/she is a foreign national. Unfortunately, DOMA still applies here as it does across the nation. This is why it's crucial that not only Nevada law change to give our families full equality, but that federal law change as well.

When it comes to federal law, marriage is marriage is marriage. And even if DOMA is repealed soon and same-sex marriages will be recognized by the federal government, comprehensive DPs and civil unions will still not be recognized by the feds and treated as "marriages". So all of us in Nevada will still be left in the cold and so will Mainers if Question 1 passes.

And even worse, comprehensive DPs and civil unions are not even treated equally when it comes to state law. That was the experience in Vermont until marriage equality was legalized there. That's what New Jersey is dealing with in regards to their civil unions. That's what California, Oregon, and Nevada are now facing with DPs. No matter how well intentioned the "separate but equal laws" are, separate is simply never equal.

Marriage equality is important because it gives LGBT families the same equal rights and responsibilities under the law as straight families. And even more so, civil marriage equality gives our families the same respect and dignity they deserve.

And again, I doubt the anti-equality folks will even allow DPs. After all, Richard Ziser is attacking us here in Nevada once again. DPs are under attack in Washington state this year. This is just another excuse for the anti-equality religious right to make LGBT families in Maine and elsewhere suffer. Don't believe them.

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