Friday, August 6, 2010

prop 8 and a few (more) things I need to get off my chest

Earlier today on Facebook, I came across a friend of a friend's post regarding Prop 8:
People voted, activist Judge went against the wishes of the people, time to boycott California. Why vote for anything when activist Judges can overrule any vote. Why, give the people the right to decide on what they want, not what a court wants you to have. That smacks of Socialism, oh, wait that's what Libs want.
I usually don't get into Facebook squabbles, but I couldn't resist. My reply:
As a California resident, property owner, taxpayer, and gay man (phew!), I think it is pretty safe to say where I stand on this issue. When I hear people throw terms around like Socialism to discuss same sex marriage, I can’t keep my mouth shut because in essence they are reducing my life to an economic system (and political philosophy), which I’ve learned more often than not that they don’t actually understand what the term means...but that’s a whole other issue. While we are on the topic of economics, I’ll give you some economic facts about my life. My partner and I have been together for almost 25 years, during which we have owned 2 houses, 4 cars, and 2 cats. We pay obnoxious amounts in property taxes on a modest condo in SF, because paradise ain’t free (California has some of the highest property taxes in the country). Before Prop 8, my partner and I were married, we still are married – Prop 8’s passage didn’t nullify the existing marriages even though the other side tried to do that too. BUT we are in limbo land as far as the Federal Government is concerned. If something happens to one of us, the surviving partner will be denied Social Security benefits from the deceased one. Are you paying attention to the economics of this situation? My ‘gay’ FICA is just as good as ‘straight’ FICA, or so I thought. The reality is the surviving partner will most likely lose the property because they won’t be able to afford it - and one might argue that even with Social Security benefits ends still may not be met and the property would have to be sold anyway. This is simply and issue that straight married couples will never have to face (Social Security benefits not economic hardship caused by deceased spouse). In contrast, in Australia where we currently live they have a separate but equal (as of this year) system. Gays cannot get married, but they enjoy the same benefits as married couples do through domestic partnerships. Australia is a more secular country than the United States and many straight folk go the domestic partnership route instead of marriage as it is mostly associated with religion...many straight folk in the US would do the same, but domestic partnerships are denied benefits at the federal level – so guess why people go for marriage more often than not? Back in the 90s the separate but equal thing was tossed around at the federal level, but the religious right put a stop to that. I think most gays would have been happy with that (myself included), but it turned a different way, thus we are going through the current agony of state by state. Plus separate but equal has a bitter history in the US because of slavery, couple that with judicial precedent and you have our culture developing along a different path than Australia’s. The point here is that do you know how odd it is to have more freedom and benefit access in another country than you have in your own (especially if you are an American, because we are taught from birth that we are the freest nation on earth)? Let me tell you, it’s pretty fucking odd. The Aussie superannuation funds (sorta like Social Security) that we have contributed to while working here allows either of us to have access to the other’s should something happen to one of us. I apologise for being pedantic (and over sharing personal minutiae), but just wanted to set a little context for my point, which is the overturn of Prop 8 is about recognising gay people as a class and our right to self determination. As I have outlined above, it does have much to do with economics, but I assure you it has absolutely nothing to do with Socialism.
For your reading pleasure, here is my other rant on Prop 8 from March 2009.

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