I’m going to ask you to take a moment and think about the following scenario:
You meet the love of your life in college and you spend nearly 25 years together in a committed relationship. Even though you can’t get married in your home state, you travel to another state that recognizes your relationship and you get married. Sadly, a couple years later, the love of your life passes away. Unfortunately, your home state doesn’t recognize your marriage and so your status is relegated to “roommate.”
Sounds horrible, doesn’t it?
Unfortunately, this is the the real-life story of James Morrison and Thomas Proehl. Proehl passed away last year and under Minnesota’s “Defense of Marriage Act,” their marriage wasn’t legally recognized. The result: $250,000 of assets and inheritance would have reverted to Proehl’s parents (even though they wanted the assets to go to Morrison).
According to Morrison:
I worked with everyone from the federal government to state government to try and find resolution. What I found was a great deal of sympathy and empathy, but the law just wouldn’t allow them to resolve our estate without having to go to court.
The courts agreed with Morrison. According to MPR:
Judge Jay Quam agreed that under the state’s probate laws, same-sex married couples “should be treated in death like any other married couple.”
One can barely even think about what it would be like to lose their other half, let alone having to fight to even defend that your love was real and mattered. Morrison shares:
My hope is this will at least make a small difference, and people hopefully begin to put a face to their neighbors and families and realize why this is so important.
If you’ve ever wondered why there is so much passion from those who oppose the mean-spirited marriage amendment, let this be just one of many examples. What happens if we amend the Minnesota state constitution to further limit the rights of committed same-sex couples? Hopefully, we won’t have to find out…
Gap Inc. officially jumped on the bandwagon opposing the Defense of Marriage Act (according to a Gap employee memo).
Vice President and Deputy General Counsel, Wilma Wallace had this to say about DOMA:
DOMA creates a distinction between our lawfully married employees that is inconsistent with our core values – inclusion and diversity. Although we are not a part of the court case… we are signing on to a supporitng court brief challenging the law because removing barriers to equitable treatment is important to us.
Gap signs onto to existing challenges of DOMA, not as a representative involved in the court case, but as a company that could be impacted by the ruling. Companies have the ability to do this to show that there is broader impact than just to the parties involved in the case.
I’ve been following some blogs from North Carolina as they fight the marriage amendment battle. In May, Amendment One will appear on North Carolinian’s ballots. Of course, NC state law already prohibits same-sex marriage, a constitutional amendment would just be an additional measure, I guess.
Anyway, even on the way to that constitutional amendment, it’s sad to see County Commissioners in parts of NC trying to pass resolutions to support the Defense of Marriage Act (US Federal Law defining marriage as one man and one woman).
Guess some folks in North Carolina just want to be super-duper sure that same-sex couples are very clear where their state stands on the matter of love. Sad.
To my friends in North Carolina: May hope carry you through.
The President has long believed that gay and lesbian couples deserve the same rights and legal protections as straight couples… That’s why he has called for repeal of the so-called ‘Defense of Marriage Act’ and determined that his Administration would no longer defend the constitutionality of DOMA in the courts.
Shin Inouye, White House spokesperson, June 25, 2011
Source: ABC News
Inouye made this statement after New York voted to legalize gay marriage last June.
Here’s a 4-minute clip from King5 News in Washington State that highlights the impacts of the Defense of Marriage Act and the fact that the Federal Government does not recognize same-sex marriages. The news story features 2 different couples in the state of Massachusetts and speaks to things like tax laws, social security and other inequities these married couples face from a federal perspective.
In the wake of Washington passing gay marriage, this is a good reminder that even with our wins, we still have a way to go.