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October 15th: 22 Years Together Without Rights

10/14/2011
by

Last year on our 21st Anniversary, someone asked Bob “how did you do it?”

It was one of those questions that you really don’t think about, but Bob thought for a minute and replied.

“You meet, you date, then later you move in together and one night you go to bed and you find yourself 20 some years later, waking up together.”

It just happened and in that happening, I found my “rock”, my mate, my partner and my best friend.

When we first met, I wrote a short poem and in it I stated about Bob, “You are the dawn of a day dream’t of but almost forgotten.”

I have another dream and that is the dream of our 22 year relationship being equal to our many married friends.

The dream that the Nation I served protecting and honoring during conflict, would also be the Nation who would protect my rights, my “family” and honor our relationship.

We struggle like our neighbors, paying a mortgage; insurances; taxes; working hard at our jobs; making the budget work and trying to be up-standing civic minded members of the community.

Yet, there is a BUT…

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 benefit

Here’s to the dream and that by next year, 23rd Anniversary, some of these inequalities might be remedied.

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