The Connecticut House of Representatives passed a bill allowing civil unions for gay couples on an 85-63 vote and Governor Rell signed the bill less than an hour after it was passed. The final version contains language that says that "marriage" is still defined as the union of a man and a woman, but the bill itself affords equal legal protections to civil unions between gay couples. It may not be a complete victory, but it's a monumental step forward as the first time an elected legislature has granted such protections without court action first. The reaction by gay rights groups hits the perfect balance:
"Connecticut's legislature has recognized the existence and reality of same-sex families, and has stepped up to the plate to provide those families with much-needed protections," said Mary L. Bonauto, director of Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders Civil Rights Project.
"They have not chosen the simplest, fairest way to provide those protections - marriage - but we look forward to the time when Connecticut's same-sex couples will be able to legally wed."
Bingo. Now here will be the real proof that the arguments against gay marriage and how it will allegedly damage real marriages is nonsense - Connecticut currently has the second lowest divorce rate in the nation, behind only Massachusetts (the two of them combined don't equal the divorce rates in Georgia, Texas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Alabama, Wyoming, Indiana, Arizona, Kentucky or several other so-called "red states"). Shall we place bets on where those states will stand in, say, 5 years in terms of divorce rate? I bet they'll still be at the top of the list in terms of low divorce rates.
Incidentally, Spain's lower house also just passed a gay marriage bill in that country. It now moves on to the Spanish Senate, who are expected to pass it. Gay marriage will likely be legal in Spain by summer. They will join most of Northern Europe and Canada as nations recognizing gay marriage. The US will eventually join them as well, despite the fevered and irrational opposition.
I have lived in NY, CT, and MA - three states that are in various stages of acceptance of the idea that gays are entitled to equal rights. Most other states aren't. Does my acceptance of that notion mean that I was influenced by the culture of the places I've lived? Maybe it's just the water.
I was shocked when I read it passed in Spain this morning. Spain was a fascist state until the mid70s, yet still manages to pass up the US in progressive legislation.
Spain had been governed by a center-right government until about a year ago. That government was voted out in favor of a center-left government largely as a result of the center-right government's support of the US's war in Iraq and, to a lesser extent, the bombing in Madrid.
Quite frankly, Spain has not been all that conservative for some time, largely in reaction to the Franco. What passes for "center-right" in Europe would for the most part be considered liberal in the US.
Sorry, ...to the Franco regime...
raj, A simmilar reaction to the Bush regime? Now there's a pleasent thought.
Maybe same-sex marriage will spread west, the same way the USA expanded into the frontier. Gay couples from Massachusetts and Connecticut with pile into Conestoga wagons and ply the Oregon Trail, braving the wilderness of the Great Plains, the Rockies, and the untamed Pacific Shore.
Bill Ware at April 21, 2005 05:06 PM
Well, I'm not sure what you're getting at, but elsewhere, I've praised the Bush regime for eliminating the federal estate tax. That will help gay couples.
That's about the only thing that they've done that might help gay people. And I tend to believe that, if they could figure out a way to do it, they'd do an "except for gay people" exception to the elimination of the federal estate tax. So far, they haven't.
Grumpy at April 21, 2005 05:39 PM
We're heading east. We'll be in Munich (Germany, not North Dakota) in a couple of days.
We're reluctant to go west. (We live in MA). My parents summer in OH (where I grew up) and winter in FL. Both of which would not recognize my partner's and my relationship--we got married last June. We're old enough (55 and 53) that that could be a significant issue if either of us fell ill and had to go to a hospital.
[Eliminating the estate tax] is about the only thing that [the Bush administration has] done that might help gay people.
I disagree with Bush on nearly everything; he is a big-government conservative, while I am a small-government liberal. But private social security accounts would allow gay couples to designate one another as beneficiaries, something that the current system does not do. In practice, this would be just a short jump to a national domestic partnership registry.
Of course, I will continue to attack him where attacks are merited, but this should be pointed out.
Jason Kuznicki at April 21, 2005 10:37 PM
But private social security accounts would allow gay couples to designate one another as beneficiaries, something that the current system does not do.
Private accounts already exist. They're called IRAs (two types, regular and Roth), 401Ks, HR10s (at least, that's what they used to be called, for the self employed) and so forth. My partner and I have IRAs and HR10s (we're self-employed, so we don't have 401Ks). It seems strange to believe that there is a need for another type of account. The Bush administration could, if it wanted to, increase the contribution limits on those types of accounts. Why don't they?
As far as I can tell, The Bush administration's "private social security accounts" are nothing more than a subterfuge to gut the social security program, and, probably over time, eliminate the employer portion of the SS tax.
Private accounts already exist. They're called IRAs
Under the present system, there is no way that I can take the money removed from my paycheck for Social Security and do anything at all with it according to my own plans. If I die, that money goes to the government, since my same-sex marriage is not recognized by the feds.
Claiming that "private accounts already exist" because of IRAs is like a thief who steals ten dollars from you--and then says, when you protest, "You must still have ten dollars somewhere else, so I haven't really taken anything."
Jason Kuznicki at April 22, 2005 08:45 PM
Under the present system, there is no way that I can take the money removed from my paycheck for Social Security and do anything at all with it according to my own plans
Um, read what I said a little closer.
Private accounts already exist. So what is the need for establishing yet another kind of private account?
What you said
there is no way that I can take the money removed from my paycheck for Social Security and do anything at all with it according to my own plans
is precisely the same for any tax. And the SS tax is a tax. Understand?
You want to eliminate the SS tax? That's another issue. Try to eliminate the SS tax. If you want to do so, it would be intellectually honest for you to say so But don't pretend that you need to have merely another kind of account merely to eliminate the SS tax. Jason, that would be dumb.
The SS tax was hiked substantially at two points in time. In the early 1970s, and the early 1980s. Both increases were (as should be clear in retrospect) designed to mask looming increasing federal deficits. The first was under Nixon and the second under Reagan.
You complain that there's no way that you could take the money removed from your paycheck for income tax and do anything at all with it according to your plans. That's true of any tax. You could have donated the money removed from your paycheck to the cause of your choice. But you know full well that the government would tax you anyway to support the causes that they want to support. What's the difference?
I could (and was going to) say exactly the same thing about excise taxes and property taxes. Half of the property tax that we pay goes to government schools. We don't have any kids--why should we pay for them? But do we have an option--other than to move?
Look, I understand your issue. But you apparently do not understand what I am saying. Private accounts already exist, as I've pointed out. There isn't a need for yet another private account. Increase the contribution limits to the already-existing private accounts. My IRA and HR10 accounts will go to my spouse when I die (unless he pre-deceases me, of course). If you want to eliminate the SS tax, say so. But don't use the subterfuge of yet another "private account" to hide that fact.
RE: estate tax. Glad to know lots of gays have estates worth over $5.3 million. Congratulations! However, I'm a "deficit hawk" as you can see here. While tax reductions are nice, I'd rather our fiscal house be put in order first.
When I settled my aunt's estate in NJ, I noted that state estate taxes kick in at a much lesser amount. How does your state compare to others?
Higher IRA contributions are allowed for those over 50, I see.
Thanks, Bill. It's notable that Jason didn't respond to the point. Of course, he had no response.
He's a bright guy (I've read his blog), but he's apparently blinded by some rhetoric from somewhere.
Actually, I'd be interested in taking this elsewhere. If SS is done away with, what impetus do I have to spend umpteen thousands of dollars a year to educate other peoples' kids? I am quite serious about that.
Answer me that.