Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Flogging the Dead with DOMA

Even we can be flexible when it comes to same-sex-marriage coverage. We cite the Lowell Sun for an article that well illustrates the destructive pettiness of the federal DOMA.

The legal husband of the recently deceased U.S. Rep. Gary Studds, Dean Hara won't get any of the $114,337 annual pension that a surviving Congressman's spouse would get otherwise.

U.S. Office of Personnel Management Spokesman Chad Cowan said, "A gay spouse will not receive any sort of pension or annuity or anything like that. It's not anything that anybody in our office has seen before."

Studds died last week after service in Congreess from 1972 through 1997. He and Hara legally married here. Were Hara a woman and the wife, he could get $62,000 annually.

Instead, he gets zip, nada, nil, zero. The DOMA limits federal benefits of any type to "a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or wife."

GLAD's Legal Director Gary Buseck, legal director of Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders held out a slight hope that "at some point Congress would address the inequities" in the law. There are plenty of people being impacted. But this is the first time right in the congressional family a distinguished member is being treated differently than other members."

Another, if you pardon, queer aspect of the federal pension law is that convicted felons who serve time in prison get their money, automatically and not subject to challenge. That's true even for those who abused their office to enrich themselves. For example, Rep. Bob Ney awaits sentencing (up to 10 years plus fines) after pleading guilty to taking lobbyist bribes. He has a lifetime pension of about $29,000, including while he is in the slammer.

So pick your moral values. A loving legal marriage is unworthy of the benefits given to ex-Congress Reps who are felons.

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4 comments:

Laurel said...

I recently asked my dad, a retired American Baptist minister, how it was that the Am. Baptists ever came to sanction divorce. When he was in semenary, divorce was considered biblically forbidden. How is it, then, that there is a new reinterpretation of God's never-changing rules? According to dad, the theology changed simply when more clergy wanted divorces! Gary and Dean's situation is so unfair and unfortunate. However, it is perhaps an important first step towards change. As more legislators demand change and feel the sting of injustice (for themselves or their friends), the rules will magically change. We are fortunate that Gary & Dean were open about themselves and took the vital step towards legal equality: a civil marriage.

AliSue1958 said...

I am a federal worker. My partner is not. We have five children. The federal government would not have to pay a penny more to cover my spouse for medical insurance, because you have either a single or family plan. Obviously I have a family plan where our five children are all covered, but not my spouse. We were forced in an economic situation where my spouse had to go back to work, because of the medical insurance issue. She had taken off some time to help with one of our children that had special issues related to a disability. I attempted to fight this situation for her to get coverage. We have a legal domestic partnership. I contacted every single possible LGBT group in our nation. I even hired an attorney. The problem is not a single LGBT group and or attorney is willing to go up against the Federal government. We must be brave and fight this oppression from all and any means possible. The Dread Scott decision did not stop legal battles to win civil rights for African Americans. We need to go after the largest employer in the country the US government for its practises of discrimination. My co-workers realise the situation is unfair they certainly do not agree with it. The excuse the government gave me was the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Least we never forget that the definition of marriage is strictly human made.

AliSue1958 said...

I am a federal worker. My partner is not. We have five children. The federal government would not have to pay a penny more to cover my spouse for medical insurance, because you have either a single or family plan. Obviously I have a family plan where our five children are all covered, but not my spouse. We were forced in an economic situation where my spouse had to go back to work, because of the medical insurance issue. She had taken off some time to help with one of our children that had special issues related to a disability. I attempted to fight this situation for her to get coverage. We have a legal domestic partnership. I contacted every single possible LGBT group in our nation. I even hired an attorney. The problem is not a single LGBT group and or attorney is willing to go up against the Federal government. We must be brave and fight this oppression from all and any means possible. The Dread Scott decision did not stop legal battles to win civil rights for African Americans. We need to go after the largest employer in the country the US government for its practises of discrimination. My co-workers realise the situation is unfair they certainly do not agree with it. The excuse the government gave me was the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Least we never forget that the definition of marriage is strictly human made.

Mass Marrier said...

That's awful. Both federal agencies and states hide behind the federal DOMA. That was the intention after all. This gives far too many the I'm-only-following-orders excuse for discrimination.

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