This commentary is the opinion of the author and may not reflect that of other authors at Box Turtle Bulletin
April 9th, 2009
The Human Rights Campaign is reporting that HB 1260 Designated Beneficiary Act has been signed by Colorado Governor Bill Ritter.
The new law, which will take effect on July 1, will permit any two people – regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity – to enter into designated beneficiary agreements that confer specific legal rights and responsibilities, including the right to receive state employee pension benefits, the right to make medical decisions for an incapacitated partner, and the right to inherit if a partner dies without a will.
These rights will undoubtedly benefit sets of individuals, including same-sex couples, and for them I am appreciative. The opposition to this bill derided it as “marriage light” and clearly objected to the fact that it would make the lives of gay people easier.
However, I find reciprocal beneficiary plans troubling.
I believe that there is a benefit to society for intertwining romantic relationships and social obligations and that such relationships are not comparable to roommates or poker buddies. And one core purpose of reciprocal beneficiaries is to make darn sure that those eligible for them know that their relationships are legally devoid of love and romance. You may have some selected rights – but only as a set of individuals, not as a family.
And, looking at Hawaii as an illustration, it seems that providing for some few rights to any designated beneficiaries can create a legal limbo from which it is difficult to emerge.
In California and other states, couples were recognized first. They became families. And then succeeding legislatures could argue over exactly which benefits should be denied some families based solely on the gender of those comprising them. Over time, it became obvious that denial of specific benefits to same-sex couples that were granted to opposite-sex couples seemed based on arbitrary distinctions or bigotry and gradually the state benefits and obligations granted became identical.
In Hawaii, however, there are no same-sex couples – only individual persons who have some reciprocal benefits. And it is easy to argue that there should be benefits granted to couples that are denied to roommates; surely we would not grant joint custody or apply community property, for example.
So it’s not surprising that rather than a gradually increasing bundle of rights and obligations, over time Hawaii has actually removed benefits leaving them of little value. Which may well be why less than a tenth of one percent of Hawaiians even bothered to sign up.
But having “granted rights to those who can’t marry”, the otherwise liberal legislature of Hawaii feels content denying marriage rights to same-sex couples.
I do see this as an improvement for Coloradans; and likely this will not be the stopping point. So I am celebratory of this victory – especially for those who now will find their lives easier.
But it’s a very minor celebration.
In this original BTB Investigation, we unveil the tragic story of Kirk Murphy, a four-year-old boy who was treated for “cross-gender disturbance” in 1970 by a young grad student by the name of George Rekers. This story is a stark reminder that there are severe and damaging consequences when therapists try to ensure that boys will be boys.
When we first reported on three American anti-gay activists traveling to Kampala for a three-day conference, we had no idea that it would be the first report of a long string of events leading to a proposal to institute the death penalty for LGBT people. But that is exactly what happened. In this report, we review our collection of more than 500 posts to tell the story of one nation’s embrace of hatred toward gay people. This report will be updated continuously as events continue to unfold. Check here for the latest updates.
In 2005, the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote that “[Paul] Cameron’s ‘science’ echoes Nazi Germany.” What the SPLC didn”t know was Cameron doesn’t just “echo” Nazi Germany. He quoted extensively from one of the Final Solution’s architects. This puts his fascination with quarantines, mandatory tattoos, and extermination being a “plausible idea” in a whole new and deeply disturbing light.
On February 10, I attended an all-day “Love Won Out” ex-gay conference in Phoenix, put on by Focus on the Family and Exodus International. In this series of reports, I talk about what I learned there: the people who go to these conferences, the things that they hear, and what this all means for them, their families and for the rest of us.
Prologue: Why I Went To “Love Won Out”
Part 1: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Part 2: Parents Struggle With “No Exceptions”
Part 3: A Whole New Dialect
Part 4: It Depends On How The Meaning of the Word "Change" Changes
Part 5: A Candid Explanation For "Change"
Using the same research methods employed by most anti-gay political pressure groups, we examine the statistics and the case studies that dispel many of the myths about heterosexuality. Download your copy today!
And don‘t miss our companion report, How To Write An Anti-Gay Tract In Fifteen Easy Steps.
Anti-gay activists often charge that gay men and women pose a threat to children. In this report, we explore the supposed connection between homosexuality and child sexual abuse, the conclusions reached by the most knowledgeable professionals in the field, and how anti-gay activists continue to ignore their findings. This has tremendous consequences, not just for gay men and women, but more importantly for the safety of all our children.
Anti-gay activists often cite the “Dutch Study” to claim that gay unions last only about 1½ years and that the these men have an average of eight additional partners per year outside of their steady relationship. In this report, we will take you step by step into the study to see whether the claims are true.
Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council submitted an Amicus Brief to the Maryland Court of Appeals as that court prepared to consider the issue of gay marriage. We examine just one small section of that brief to reveal the junk science and fraudulent claims of the Family “Research” Council.
The FBI’s annual Hate Crime Statistics aren’t as complete as they ought to be, and their report for 2004 was no exception. In fact, their most recent report has quite a few glaring holes. Holes big enough for Daniel Fetty to fall through.