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17 Aug
2013

Striking Down DOMA and Proposition Eight

Doma3The Supreme Court struck down DOMA, The Federal Defense of Marriage Act, and allowed the lower court ruling against Proposition 8 in California to stand!  I was surprised, thrilled and celebrated with my spouse in our Castro neighborhood in San Francisco.  It was a celebration marked by music, congratulatory speeches and the excitement of thousands who have advocated and hoped for this day.

“But, what does it mean?” many have asked.

There are many legal nuances in the complicated rulings.  However,  to simplify and personalize it, it means that my partner, now spouse, of over 35 years and I can now benefit from the over 1100 federal benefits granted to heterosexual married couples including social security and inheritance benefits.  We were married along with 18,000 other couples in California during the breathless few months when same sex marriage became legal because the California Supreme Court recognized our relationships as legal under the California Constitution, and the time when voters influenced by misleading ads voted in November 2008.  Passing Proposition Eight by a small majority limited marriage in the California Constitution to a man and a women.  Striking down Prop 8 now means equality among same sex couples in California who want to marry.  Many of our friends, denied the opportunity when Prop 8 passed, are now headed to the altar.

Wedding-B-C-440x320The rulings also mean filing taxes will be easier…a joint return filed with both the Feds and the state instead of the contortions of filing a joint return to the state tax board and separate returns to the US Department of Treasury…and potentially paying more.  It reinforces the right to visit and make health decisions for same sex spouses in medical facilities and the recognition of the non-biological spouse as a parent.  Many more benefits will come to light as the Federal Government works to clarify how those over 1100 benefits will be available to same sex couples.

Most important, the rulings mean acknowledgement of our full equality, rights and privileges under the law.  We are not “less than”, ignored or undeserving.   It means that our loving relationships deserve the same respect, recognition and appreciation that heterosexual couples are given.  I have been grateful for many years that my heterosexual married daughter readily acknowledged that her “moms” provided her a model of how to be in a long term committed relationship.

Wedding-HandsAlthough it is exciting to celebrate and to be swept along with the tide of this current civil rights movement, there is still a lot of work left to do to ensure that these rights and benefits are extended to couples in other states.  The Court did not give us a ruling that provides full equality to same sex couples in every state.  Only thirteen states currently allow same sex marriage and it appears that the ruling will require the Federal Government to recognize and provide benefits to those married couples.  But, thirty one states have passed constitutional bans against them.  The same sex couples in those states cannot marry or receive Federal benefits accorded either heterosexual couples in their states, nor same sex couples in the thirteen where same sex marriages are allowed.  Many who oppose same sex marriage believe that our love is immoral or goes against tradition or their religious beliefs.  However, I believe love ultimately transforms hatred, bigotry, intolerance, ignorance and even traditional beliefs.  One day our love, our relationships, our families will be equal, recognized and respected in every state not just thirteen.

(Note: This blog was originally posted in the Transition Network National Newsletter – August 2013 and the Vibrant Nation website).

8 May
2013
Posted in: Book Reviews
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Book Review: “Redemption” by Joe Prentis

RedemptionReviewed by Bev Scott

Based at the end of the Civil War, a time of turmoil, suspicion and great uncertainty, Sargent Oakley and Private McCade, who have been loyal Union soldiers fighting for and as aids to General McClellan, find themselves under the suspicion of participation in an assassination plot of high level government officials.   The author does a masterful job of describing the environment, the historical context, the politics and the personal qualities of his characters.  I felt I was there.  As a reader, I was drawn in immediately and the plot development kept me engaged to the end.    At times, I was a little confused regarding who might be part of the plot and who was not.  In a way that reinforces the story and the political chaos and complexity of the historical times.   I liked the redemption of Sargent Oakley, although I was disappointed in what seemed like a story brought too quickly to an end.

Author website: www.joeprentiswebsite.com

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