20 August 2009

The Fruits of "Defending Marriage"

All of you sincere, family-oriented folks who walked neighborhoods and staffed phone banks and chatted up your neighbors last fall to pass Prop 8 and defend traditional marriage, and who support the Federal Defense of Marriage Act, please read this. It's a snapshot of the results your efforts have produced.

The following is from Frank and Joe Capley-Alfano, witnesses for AJR 19, the Resolution in Support of Repealing the Defense of Marriage Act. AJR 19 recently passed the California Assembly Judiciary Committee along with two other EQCA sponsored resolutions. All three pieces of legislation now move to the Senate and Assembly floors to await an official vote.

"Hello, my name is Frank Capley-Alfano, and I am here with my husband Joe Capley-Alfano. We have been together for nine years. We have been registered as California Domestic Partners for five years, and we have been legally married for a little more than 1 year.

My spouse Joe is disabled, and he can only physically work part time. As a result, he doesn’t qualify for healthcare through his employer, and private healthcare policies cost too much for our working class family, because of his pre-existing condition.

The situation is devastating to me, because I am watching my husband slowly lose his ability to walk, and I can’t do anything about it. I work for the International Union of Elevator Constructors and my union refuses to recognize my legal civil marriage. They cite the Employees Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) using the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) to justify their denial of equal treatment to my family.

All of the heterosexual guys that I work with can add their spouses to their health plan, and I want to be treated equally! I work just as hard as my co-workers, and I pay my union dues just like they do.

Like many couples, we recently filed our taxes. Unfortunately, we couldn’t file a joint Federal tax return, because the IRS also uses the Defense of Marriage Act to deny treating our family fairly. We would have saved $4,570 on our 2007 taxes, and last year in 2008, we would have saved $3,071 had we been handled the same as opposite-gendered married couples, and we are angry that just because of our genders, we have been relegated to second class status. We could have used that money. It would have paid for nearly 5 and 1/2 months worth of premiums for the private healthcare plan that my husband Joe went without during the last two years.

It is time for the US Government to treat all citizens equally. Same gendered married couples want and deserve to be treated with the same dignity and respect that others expect. We want nothing more and nothing less than to be treated fairly by our government. It’s that simple. We call on Congress and President Obama to repeal DOMA."

Refusing the legal benefits of marriage to loving, committed couples like this isn't going to "defend marriage," folks. It's not going to prevent the formation of these partnerships either. It's just going to perpetuate this kind of unfairness and hurt. WWJD?

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