Tuesday, June 12, 2007

1324 Rights

One thousand three hundred and twenty four. That is the number of rights and duties that same-sex couples are denied by being barred from marrying in New York State.

The Pride Agenda and the New York City Bar Association released a report today that for the first time details every single right and responsibility that comes with marriage in New York State. This is the first-ever catalogue of marriage rights in New York, and it puts into stark perspective the significance of the inequality that same-sex couples and their families must endure on a day-to-day basis.

When combined with the estimated 1,138 federal rights granted through marriage, gay couples (and their children) are without a total of 2,462 rights and protections that are established to provide security and stability for families. The U.S. Government Accounting Office (GAO) in 1997 and 2004 documented which federal statutes confer rights through marriage.

An important point that the report brings up is that even if same-sex couples spend money to create as broad a legal framework for protection as possible, most rights still cannot be bought by contracts or other legal instruments because they are specifically confined to married people. (In fact, only about two dozen can be obtained outside of marriage, either through a lawyer or because of executive order/legislative action):

“Because the overwhelming majority of these rights and responsibilities have been created by statutes and regulations specifically for spouses, same-sex couples and their families are by definition denied most of the protections that other families take for granted, notwithstanding any private contractual agreements and other “work-arounds” these same-sex couples may endeavor to create. For example, Workers’ Compensation survivor benefits—like the vast majority of entitlement programs—are statutorily limited to spouses; they cannot be bequeathed to any other dependent, including a domestic partner, no matter what a will or other private legal agreement might say.”

The report also addresses the significant shortcomings of separate-and-unequal institutions such as civil unions and points out examples (New Jersey) of where attempts to create a parallel institution that isn’t full marriage equality are failing.

Marriage equality is the only way to overcome the 1000+ ways in which hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers are systemically treated as second class citizens.

1 comment:

Joshua said...

Damn you're good at what you do...