Column One:
Eye on Unmarried America

October 9,  2006  



Readers react to previous Column One commentaries

Below are letters from readers sharing their reactions to issues which have been raised in this column.  The date and name of the column are in bold (with hyperlink to the commentary) and the readers comments follow.  Send us your comments on a particular column and we will consider publishing them.


Hi, I found your column on the Boston Globe's plan to eliminate domestic partner benefits. I think your argument is spelled out quite nicely. I'm a Massachusetts resident in a legal same-gender marriage, and I think there are a couple other points that are important to mention, and that many (even very progressive) people aren't aware of.

First of all, not every same-sex couple in Massachusetts is eligible to become married in the state. There are quite a few enlisted military members who could be discharged, charged with treason, and forced to pay back school loans and so forth if they were to legally marry a person of the same sex. Couples who are pursuing international adoption also can be in situations in which they would be penalized for creating any legal proof of their sexual orientation. Individuals who work for employers who are legally permitted to discriminate against GLBT folks (some churches, some hospitals, organizations like the Boy Scouts) could also be fired for marrying. I think it's really important to make sure that people know that not all of us can marry.
This seems to be one of the more logic-driven talking points when discussing the issue with people who are not homophobic, but still view domestic partner rights as "special rights." To my knowledge, there are not any situations in which legal marriage is denied to different-sex couples.

It is also important to point out that while we can marry in Massachusetts, our marriage is not federally recognized. Some of the "special rights" we have include not being able to get passports if we change our name when we marry, having to spend money in probate court for a legal name change if we work for a federal agency, having to file federal taxes as a single person, having to pay a tax preparer twice as much because our state and federal status are different, having to declare healthcare and other benefits from our spouses'
employers as federal taxable income, and having to hire lawyers to deal with situations that are automatic for hetero couples. The cost of all these things adds up. The domestic partner benefits we may receive do not come close to balancing out the ways we are penalized by the IRS and other agencies that don't recognize our marriage.
Pointing this out can often help people to see that there are no "special rights" involved by giving us health insurance.

Keep up the fabulous columns!

Erika Shira

July 24, 2006
Anti-cohabitation law bites the dust

I read your article on the North Carolina anti-cohabitation law and it got me thinking.

I have been wondering about the foundation for bigamy laws. I know numerous people who are in ‘triads’ where there are three people living together helping make ends meet, raising children, etc. All the prima-facie activities of a married couple, except there are 3 of them. I do have some trouble trying to understand the authority to pass laws making this illegal. At least it is specifically illegal in Utah, but I suspect in other states as well.  

My difficulty is understanding how it should be illegal if the three wish to have an agreement intended to last for a significant amount of time (ie a marriage) vs roommates going to school. There seems to be a discrepancy that I am unable to resolve based upon the best interest of society (which is my general rule of thumb for the source of governmental authority). Granted, I am not an expert in law by any means, but it does seem that in today’s society where one’s sexual preference has protection that such an arrangement between consenting adults should not in itself be illegal. I would concur that if it occurred under forcible circumstances, or via deception or such, that it should be illegal. I believe that such behavior would be considered unlawful under other statutes in most cases.

If possible, I would be very interested in your and others’ opinions on whether such behavior should be found reprehensible and punishable or if it should be found protected as we see more alternatives to the nuclear family ideas when our citizens exercise their rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in new ways.

Brian Andrus

August 7, 2006
Looking 'beyond marriage' for equal rights

I was reading an article on your website from South Bend Tribute by Ed Ronco and I highlighted the paragraph that was of interest to me at the bottom of this email. I have a thought for since they are trying to "cross borders" and reach a broader ideology, to which I agree is a good idea.

Having a very conservative father I can tell you that the one thing he hates is paying taxes and the second thing he hates is the idea of Gay people getting married. He probably hates taxes more though. It seems to me that the only way for opposite sex domestic partners to get ERISA benefits such as FLMA, Workers Compensation, Social Security benefits, Cobra and employee benefits like a HSA and flexible spending accounts ( is to get married. By getting married the IRS makes more money on people that combined make more than $100,000. Hmmm… that is interesting and something I don't think most people know. Federal government makes more money if people get married and by making more money the status quo continues which is the discrimination of those that choose not to get married or those that don't fall within the legal definition of "spouse".   

I read in your web page that the US census shows more people are not getting married. I see this in my office and another thing I see is that they don't care that they don't have Federal benefits ( hmm, sounds like a study in the making). If they don't care then why are supporting this huge government to protect ERISA rights and Social Security that are only protecting the minority, according to the new census? Its seems that the only reason to have ERISA is to discriminate, i.e.. if you are not married but have a partner you have no rights to FMLA leave.  So why are we supporting the salary out of our taxes for all of these government employees to protect our rights if the minority that are single or unmarried people don't have access to those rights?

I think America has to rethink a lot of things. I think we should focus on our children and their children how are we helping them and the financial legacy we are leaving. If social security isn't going to be there for them then why support that huge government venture out of our pocket?

Again, I think that and your organization are great but we need to reach the common people in Oklahoma that really believe that the defense of marriage act is just keeping gay people from getting married. Sadly that is not the case, but human rights groups have done nothing to educate at a basic level. Single moms would have access to government sponsored babysitter if we didn't waste so much money supporting archaic government department that take out 28% from her paycheck for many government benefits that she is not entitled to anyway. Wouldn't it be nice for her instead to be the beneficiary of her dead parents social security check?

Where is the outrage? I don't see any political organization defending the minority. I don't see commercials I don't read about it in any news organization, I never hear any Democrat or Republican talk about it. All I ever hear is how America needs to protect itself from the Gay people that want to destroy marriage.  

"Filing your tax return jointly can save money, unless you're combined income exceeds $100,000 a year, Renshaw said. Then, you get bumped up into a new tax bracket and, presto, it's not any cheaper than being single."

Silvia C. Morales


December 26, 2005
Anti-cohabitation laws are unconstitutional

I AGREE with your Internet article and think it was well written and well done. I imagine you must be an attorney.

I believe the legislatures of America should not even try to proscribe what happens in the bedrooms of America.

Though I agree with the institution of marriage, cohabitation has been so widespread in last several decades attorneys have drawn up contracts as to who gets what in the event of a cohabital split.

Lawrence v. Texas makes it obvious the Supreme Court is staying out of the issue of morality. Yet, to me, odd as it may be, prostitution is still proscribed except in a select few places in Nevada.

Some Women's Harvard Law Reviews have been brilliantly written about being FOR decriminalization of prostitution. They claim women sell everything else, why not sex?

I, personally, believe prostitution should be limitedly permitted in certain sections of towns where it is well lighted and patrolled, for the safety of patrons and the sex workers (they don't like to be called prostitutes) medically checked. I think it would be the lesser of two evils. I believe the incident of rape is just too high in America. Limited and controlled prostitution would have an effect on the decline of rape I do believe though I doubt it would ever be eradicated. 

That's my opinion but, thus far, efforts to decriminalize prostitution in America have fallen flat on their faces. Hum...

Paul Price

© Unmarried America 2006

Thomas F. Coleman, Executive Director of Unmarried America, is an attorney with 33 years of experience in singles' rights, family diversity, domestic partner benefits, and marital status discrimination.  Each week he adds a new commentary to Column One: Eye on Unmarried America. E-mail: Unmarried America is a nonprofit information service for unmarried employees, consumers, taxpayers, and voters.