Tuesday, January 27, 2004

And, Up on the Hill...

Things were wonderful. A packed rotunda spoke out against Senate Bill 24, Marriage Defined as discriminatory, selective and prejudiced against all Utahns, not just the GLBT community. We had 5 speakers, attorneys who specify the actual legality and how against our civil liberties this bill is... a social worker (who in my opinion was the most effective speaker) who quoted 8 research studies showing that A: Gay parents DON'T raise gay children; B: Gay parents raise, on average, children of higher social, political and intellectual abilities, who tend to be more loving and open; and C: in the hundreds of cases of child abuse, neglect, molestation and sex abuse, spousal abuse, poverty, homelessness, teenage pregnancy and drug abuse that has walked through her door, not ONE of these people were the result of a gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered household - all of their parents were heterosexual.

We heard from Jackie Biskupski, (seen here with Unity Utah's Executive Director Michael Mitchell) a legislator elected to 3 terms in the Utah House of Representatives, from Salt Lake, openly lesbian, and her stance on this amendment, as well as the Constitutional Amendment. In her speech she ephasized the fact that we ALL need to let our legislators know WHO we are, put faces with this issue, because unless they "look into our eyes" and know we are human beings, most of them will never get it. Another speaker emphasized her testimony at the Capitol, and one of the facts she raised regarding Senate Bill 24 and it's legality. "If we have to change our Constitution to make a bill legal, then you ought to recognize that SOMETHING IS WRONG WITH THE BILL TO BEGIN WITH!" Go, girl.

It was energizing and powerful and I feel a renewed strength in coming out of the proverbial political closet. I really feel this new bill would strip away our rights and pose us as lesser citizens in the eyes of the law.

This is why.

Lindi and I are married, well, at least to us. For us to have the same property, legal, guardianship, inheritance and power of attorney rights as legally married heterosexual couples, we have to go to an attorney to file the following:

Power of Medical Attorney
Power of Legal Attorney
Last Will and Testament with provisions for Guardianship (and PRAY it isn't contested if the time comes)
affidavits for any and all companies to certify that we are able to speak for one another in business matters

On average, an attorney costs about $150/hr to draw up these legal documents. Conservatively, to produce all of this paperwork and file it with a county clerk, we will be looking at $750 - $1,500.

A marriage license that grants most of that? $50

Tell me all Utahn's are equal.

Now, I am not saying that straight couples don't have to have a will. Most should. But, legally, the property of one passes to the other as default. One can claim the other's body for burial, make funeral arrangements, request copies of death certificates, etc, without one iota of problem. A spouse can claim their departed loved one's Social Security benefits and receive them without issue. Why? They paid $50.

If a husband died, would the State take their children away immediately until a hearing to decide if the step-mother is a suitable parent, and then more often than not, grant custody of the children to grandparents, aunts, cousins or anyone else besides the step-parent? Not likely. Why? They paid $50.

Something as simple as changing your calling plan on your home phone can't be done by a partner without the "proper documentation", but can be done by a spouse. Why? Well, you know the rest.

That is why I am fighting. And I hope you will, too.


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