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Thursday, January 11, 2007

Gray Rights

posted by on January 11 at 16:41 PM

Why does the domestic partnerships bill make a special category for seniors?

Indeed, in the list of requirements that must be met—like, “both persons share a common residence” and “neither person is married to someone other than the party to the domestic partnerhsip” —there’s this requirement: “Either (a) both persons are members of the same sex; or (b) one of the persons is at least sixty-two years of age.

Said Annie Wagner to me: “I’m confused about both the choice to include heterosexuals and to exclude heterosexuals under 62. whaa?”

Here’s what’s up with discriminating against young people: There are elderly couples that don’t get married because if they do marry, they may lose the pensions that their original spouse left them.

Meanwhile, since they aren’t married to their new partner, they don’t have any of the hospital visitation rights, funeral arrangment rights etc.. with that new partner. Getting a domestic partnership allows them to collect their previous spouse’s pension, while also being able to have rights regarding their new partner.

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sshh, it's a secret ...

Posted by Will in Seattle | January 11, 2007 5:06 PM

Really? You can lose a pension by getting remarried? Sounds like THAT'S the law that needs to be changed.

Posted by DOUG. | January 11, 2007 5:07 PM

Not that secret; Arizona was the one state that didn't pass a same-sex marriage ban in the last election because there was a strong campaign to publicize how a law that said there could be no marriage-esque treatment of unmarried couples (no hospital visitation, etc.) would screw over old couples who were staying unmarried to keep their benefits.

Posted by PG | January 11, 2007 5:11 PM

And it doesn't hurt to add in an extra bloc of voters and legislators who might not have supported the bill without that addition.

Arizona became the first state to defeat a marriage-inequality initiative partly because opponents convinced the many seniors there that their live-in arrangement could be harmed by its passage.

Posted by Robin | January 11, 2007 5:16 PM

DOUG: That isn't a feature of pension law. It's a feature of the employment contract into which the deceased spouse entered that provided him and his spouse with the pension benefit.

But don't worry, clearly the politicans are doing their best to subvert the intent of those contracts. God forbid that anyone have to make a trade-off or endure a negative consequence for any life decision.

Posted by David Wright | January 11, 2007 5:26 PM

Wow… so in the name of equality we are going to exclude “young” straight people who choose not to marry? That’s kinda screwed.

Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me | January 11, 2007 6:22 PM

You know, that's actually really smart. That gets a bunch of straight old people supporting our cause. Just think, we'll be harnessing the power of the AARP.

Posted by monkey | January 11, 2007 6:24 PM

why don't we just do what many european countries do? any two adults who want to share responsibility for one another can. elderly co-habitants, siblings that live together, same sex couples, straight couples, etc... makes sense, right? take the romantic aspect out of it all together. then lots of people could get behind it.

Posted by socialarsonist | January 11, 2007 6:51 PM


Oddly enough, a majority of AZ seniors voted in favor of the proposition you mention - denying themselves the same rights they were denying GBLT Arizonans. You can especially thank younger voters for the prop's defeat.

The discriminatory clause in the domestic partnerships bill regarding straight citizens 62 and older closes an ugly wound of inequity: where finding new love in later life can levy another lifetime's savings.

Posted by Laurence Ballard | January 11, 2007 7:16 PM

See, letting old people choose to stay unmarried but still have benefits of marriage just screws corporations. But letting young people do it would screw the government out of taxes. Can't have that.

This just goes to show that government should get the hell out of marriage altogether.

Posted by BC | January 11, 2007 8:40 PM

seriously, this stuff goes on all the time.

Posted by Will in Seattle | January 12, 2007 12:40 AM

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