20 Years Together And We Don’t Count In The Declaration Of Independance’s “All” And The 2010 Census
As I was growing up, there was a plaque that always hung by the front door for all those who visited our house to see. It had a simple message, “A family is a circle of caring: strong and eternal, perfect unto itself.”
Today, my life partner and myself celebrate our 20th Anniversary together and that same plaque hangs by our front door.
Bob and I have always felt that we are a family. Maybe not in society’s “traditional” definition but as a “circle of caring” and I might add full of love.
We have a house, jobs and pets. Of course our pets to us are family members, but we do believe that every family feels the same connection with their “pets”, making us no different than our neighbors.
Our struggles, during these bad economic times, are the same as everyone else.
Taxes, food prices, gas prices, utilities and mortgage affects us like all our neighbors, but the difference is that we do not have the “rights” that those other “families” have.
During the 2004 17th Ohio Congressional Democrat Caucus, that elected me as an Alternate-Delegate to the Convention, I asked a simple question, “I stand before you as an openly gay male who served four years in the military during Viet Nam defending this nation and it’s citizens rights, who is defending mine?”
I have been very blessed that Bob has, for 20 years, been my “rock.” Stood by me in good times but most of all he has stood by me, even closer, in the bad ones.
I jokingly have told political friends that “Bob may not always see my dream, or vision, but he supports me through the fog.” His wise consul through all our struggles has been invaluable, and the perfect “mate” for this “Irish Rough” and “Child of the Sixties.”
As I was preparing to write this post I suggested to Bob a title, he paused, and then gave me “Twenty Years Together and We Still Don’t Count.” This of course in reference to the upcoming 2010 census which will not count same-sex couples living together. Just another example of how LGBT couples, and the community in general, are relegated to second class citizens.
The joy of our 20th Anniversary is dampened with the loss of our dear Sofia over a year ago. She weather’d the storms with Bob and myself through 16 years. She is sorely missed, but with year old Shadow, plus cats Snowball, Moses and Teatro, the family is completed, “A family is a circle of caring: strong and eternal, perfect unto itself.”
On a personal note from myself to Bob:
No matter if the sun don't shine Or if the skies are blue No matter what the end is My life began with you
*[This post was written (then stored as a draft until today) before the untimely death of Boyzone singer Stephen Gately. Our condolences are sent to Stephen’s life partner, Andrew Cowles, and to the other members of Boyzone.]
Some Facts You Should Know:
*There are an estimated 3.1 million people living together in a same-sex relationships in the United States.
*Fifteen percent of these same-sex couples live in rural settings.
*One out of three lesbian couples is raising children. One out of five gay male couples is raising children.
*Between 1 million and 9 million children are being raised by gay, lesbian and bi-sexual parents in the United States.
*At least one same-sex couple is raising children in 96 percent of all counties nationwide.
*Same-sex couples live in 99.3 percent of all counties nationwide.
*The highest percentage of same-sex couples raising children live in the South.
*Nearly one in four same-sex couples include a partner 55 years old or older, and nearly one in five same-sex couples is composed of two people 55 or older.
*More than one in 10 same-sex couples include a partner 65 years old or older and nearly one in 10 same-sex couples is composed of two people 65 or older.
*The states with the highest numbers of same-sex senior couples are also the most popular for heterosexual senior couples: California, New York and Florida.
Currently in the United States, same-sex couples in long-term, committed relationships pay higher taxes and are denied basic protection and rights granted to married heterosexual couples. Among them:
*Hospital visitation. Married couples have the automatic right to visit each other in the hospital and make medical decisions. Same-sex couples can be denied the right to visit a sick or injured loved one in the hospital.
*Social Security benefits. Married people receive Social Security payments upon the death of a spouse. Despite paying payroll taxes, gay and lesbian partners receive no Social Security survivor benefits resulting in an average annual income loss of $5,528 upon the death of a partner.
*Immigration. Americans in bi-national relationship are not permitted to petition for their same-sex partners to immigrate. As a result, they are often forced to separate or move to another country.
*Health Insurance. Many public and private employers provide medical coverage to the spouses of their employees, but most employers do not provide coverage to the life partners of gay and lesbian employees. Gay employees who do receive health coverage for their partners must pay federal income taxes on the value of the insurance.
*Estate taxes. A married person automatically inherits all the property of his or her deceased spouse without paying estate taxes. A gay or lesbian taxpayer is forced to pay estate taxes on property inherited from a deceased partner.
*Retirement savings. While a married person can roll a deceased spouse’s 401 (k) funds into an IRA without paying taxes, a gay or lesbian American who inherits a 401 (k) can end up paying up to 70 percent of it in taxes and penalties.
*Family leave. Married workers are legally entitled to unpaid leave from their job to care for an ill spouse. Gay and lesbian workers are not entitled to family leave to care for their partners.
*Nursing homes. Married couple have a legal right to live together in nursing homes. Because they are not legal souses, elderly gay or lesbian couples do not have the right to spend their last days living together in nursing homes.
*Home protection. Laws protect married seniors from being forced to sell their homes to pay high nursing home bills; gay and lesbian seniors have no such protection.
*Pensions. After the death of a worker, most pension plans pay survivor benefits only to a legal spouse of the participant. Gay and lesbian partners are excluded from such pension benefits.