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Domestic Partnership News Archive
May 14 - May 20, 2001




This page contains news for the period May 14, 2001 through May 20, 2001.





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Friday, May 18, 2001

Massachusetts bill targets domestic partner benefits

A story released today by the Boston Globe reports that Massachusetts's House Ways and Means chairman John H. Rogers has sponsored a bill that would limit marriage to heterosexual couples.

A close reading of the bill, however, reveals further language that takes aim  not only at same-sex marriage, but at any ''benefits exclusive to marriage in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as a matter of public policy.''

In other words, Rogers' bill also seeks to outlaw domestic partnership benefits for public employees. Those benefits have the support of many public officials, even those who won't go near same-sex marriage, including Acting Governor Jane Swift.

''If you start extending benefits like spousal testimonial privileges and health benefits into other relationships, you're going to create both legal and social confusion,'' said Bryan G. Rudnick, executive director of the Massachusetts Citizens Alliance, which supports Rogers' bill.

''It could possibly create a legal precedent, but more importantly it's about sending the right message to children.''

''That is an extreme change in the law,'' said Mary Bonauto, a lawyer with Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders. ''This is going out of their way to marginalize people, and it's a step back.''

Bonauto and others said the provision would not only bar future changes in the status and benefits accorded to same-sex couples, but it might even take away some of the rights some gay and lesbian public employees already have, such as bereavement leave, or visiting rights for partners in the hospital.

''It's a preemptive strike,'' said Senator Cheryl Jacques, a Needham Democrat. ''It's not enough to preclude gay couples from getting married. They want to ensure gay couples get no benefits and no protections.''

Rudnick's group and other opponents of same-sex marriage have launched an organizing drive this year. Rudnick said 22,000 people had signed the organization's petition opposing same-sex unions. And the Massachusetts Citizens Alliance mailed out tens of thousands of letters this year asking for donations for a $1.3 million fund ''for our emergency campaign to protect marriage from the assault it will face in coming months.'' Rudnick also commissioned a poll that showed that over 50 percent of respondents opposed same-sex marriages, while 39 percent supported them.

Several lawmakers have proposed domestic partnership legislation this session, including Representative Alice K. Wolf, a Cambridge Democrat. Her bill, co-sponsored by almost 50 other legislators, would give domestic partners of state, city, or county employees health benefits. The legislation extends benefits to unmarried heterosexual couples as well as gay couples.

Wednesday, May 16, 2001

Financial advice for same-sex partners

A story released today by Reuters reports that  for same-sex couples all over America who live and act as though they were married, saving, spending, or generally managing their finances like most married couples does not come as easy as it seems.

Same-sex partners may receive reduced retirement benefits, but can't receive survivor benefits from Social Security or pensions. They can't use most financial planning software and may not even be able to get access to their partner's financial information in the event of an emergency.

They have no legal protections and can't give each other more than $10,000 in assets in a given year without paying gift taxes. Oh, but they'll save on income taxes without that marriage penalty.

All of those complications have been brought to the forefront by Sharon Rich, Debra Neiman and Sandy Reynolds, three Boston area financial planners who are organizing an industry conference to educate other advisors about the special financial planning needs of gay and lesbian couples. Their group, Prideplanners, is focused on broadening the list of financial advisors who are well versed in issues affecting same-sex couples. The first conference takes place in mid-June.

According to Hayden Curry, Denis Clifford, Robin Leonard and Frederick Hertz, the four lawyers who wrote ``A Legal Guide for Lesbian and Gay Couples'', much of what married couples take for granted, same-sex couples can accomplish with a good lawyer and a sheaf of documents, including a health care power of attorney, a durable power of attorney for finances

Australian Anglican chief gives same-sex partners hope

A story published today by The Age, an Australian publication, reports that Anglican Church Primate Dr. Peter Carnley stated that homosexual relationships could be given the term of "friendship" and formally witnessed by the church.

In an advance on previous church pronouncements on the issue, he suggested that the church could bless such a friendship if publicly expressed through a covenant or formal life-long commitment.

This could be in the form of a solemn promise or contractual arrangement, that could be publicly registered that could allow  partners to qualify for social security benefits, pensions and rights to property inheritance.

Dr. Carnley said that the modern Anglican stance on sexual relations "seems to lead in the direction of accepting that some physical expression of the physical bond of friendship could be countenanced within same gender relationships as a degree of recreational sexual activity".

Dr. Carnley was expounding on the controversial issue in response to what he described as a generally favorable acceptance of society on homosexual relationships.

In witnessing a homosexual covenant, the church would be saying "no" to promiscuity and associated health risks, and making it more likely the relationship would last, he said.

Dr. Carnley also argued that "there is no clear biblical teaching about behavior that might be explicitly appropriate to homosexually oriented persons".

The church would do better to concentrate on the spiritual aspects of such relationships and leave other matters to individual choice, he said.



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