Alex Blaze

Sympathy fatigue

Filed By Alex Blaze | November 25, 2009 12:00 PM | comments

Filed in: The Movement
Tags: ENDA, estate tax, LGBT, politically incorrect, protections, queer, rich gay, satire, transgender, wealthy

There are just so many divergent communities and interests waving the "LGBT" banner, ones that I personally have no reason to defend, interests that simply don't line up at all with my own, and people whose priorities are just far too different from my own for us to work together in one movement. I try my hardest to accept people who are different from me, but why should I have to share a movement with them? I'm not against them, just against them hijacking my liberation movement. Call it sympathy fatigue if you want, but I just can't bring myself to care about these folks:

If the estate tax penalty remains in effect, affected gay and lesbian couples will be subject to a total of $237 million in additional taxes in 2009 -- and more than $3.5 billion in added taxes over the decade by 2011, according to a study by the University ot California, Los Angeles, School of Law's Williams Institute.

Currently, taxpayers with estates valued at less than $3.5 million are exempted from federal estate taxes. The tax is scheduled to be repealed in 2010 but will resume in 2011 with a $1 million exemption.

If I more than a million dollars when I die, I'll come back to life so I can die of shock. These folks have nothing in common with me, so can we please start having endless discussions about cutting them out of "LGBT"?

I mean, these people aren't the most popular folks in the LGBT community. Whenever someone wants to scare-monger legislation that helps us, they drag out the "rich, powerful homosexual who wants to force his alternative life down your throat." It's a vicious stereotype, and us being associated with them perpetuates it.

Again, I have nothing against insanely rich gays, I'm just stating reality. I'm being pragmatic, and people don't like it when someone is pragmatic, I know. But I'm certain that everyone who reads this who doesn't leave a comment or email or in anyway expresses disagreement agrees with me.

The right, in both Maine and Washington, brought up how we raise more money for ballot initiatives and used it to make it seem like they were the oppressed minority. Do we really want to leave ourselves open to that kind of attack? More importantly, when we lost in California last year, it was because the wealthy of didn't give enough. Either way, no matter what happens, they're always holding us back.

And then there's ENDA.

Don't get me wrong; I believe in an ENDA that protects everyone in the LGBT community. But, let's be honest, some people are harder to get through than others, and people who are so-rich-it-make-us-all-projectile-vomit (no offense) are among the hardest. Consider how the stereotype that we're rich always gets brought up in the debate by the right. Even Antonin Scalia brought it up in his dissent in Romer v. Evans as a reason we're not oppressed enough to get job or Constitutional protections. People in America are OK with working class people having job protections from the government, but rich people? They're just not there yet.

Part of it is the fact that I don't really know how we all ended up in the same movement together. Being gay used to be subversive, about shaking up power structures, about challenging the system. Now these folks think that they can make it all about the estate tax and protecting their millions.

I have a theory about revolutions, and I just don't think they... take when they're imposed from high up on us, the normal human beings. And LGBT activists have, for reasons that completely escape me, fused our populist and radical movement with people who want DOMA repealed to escape the federal estate tax. It wasn't organic. It wasn't democratic. I don't ever remember being asked if I wanted to be lumped together with these people.

I know what I'm saying isn't the PC line, but sometimes we need to hear the hard truth. Sure, some people would argue that it's impossible to separate rich and poor gays when it comes to legislation, that legislators who won't vote for a bill that includes rich people probably wouldn't vote for us anyway, that most Americans don't even care about this line that I'm drawing between us, and that while our interests don't coincide entirely there's a lot of overlap. They might even go so far as to say that me firmly holding the opinion that they need to be dropped from the LGBT is more just a sign that I have a problem with the rich than anything else.

I'm sure plenty of people will resort to name-calling. But that and any disagreement with me proves what a courageous, free-thinking, and pragmatic person I am.


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So now you are against middle class or professional success for LGBT? I know you have said that you live in France, but here in major American cities, a fairly typical home in major metropolitan areas is around a million bucks. See NYC, Boston, DC, LA,San Farancisco, etc. Many LGBT couples easily accrue a million between their careers. If the home or combined net worth is not a million today, it will be in a few years, when you are interested in protecting your assets for retirement, since Social Security is nothing to bank on for our generation, and since the financial sector is not taking care of other means of saving for later years. Shouldn't we enourage protecting all LGBT assets equally, and encouraging even more contributions to LGBT causes, instead of toward taxes?
For too long, our opponents have argued that we are pervert loosers by their definitions. What is wrong with letting it be known that plenty of LGBT persons are financially successful and should be equally protected? One of the pioneers in telecommunications and financially successful, is a M2F married trans woman who used to be with Bell Laboratories. Lesbian Suze Orman is much loved by her huge audiences in America. I think many straights have been sympathetic to her appeal for financial equality for LGBT as well as for marriage equality because they like her so much.
Where do you think so much of the big donations to LGBT causes comes from? There were many LGBT's who contributed $500, $1500, $10,000 to the anti Prop 8 efforts, who give to Lambda Legal, HRC, and other LGBT causes.
It is a big mistake to add class warfare and class envy to the already existing divisions in the fragile LGBT amlgamation.

"class envy"? Them's fightin' words!

All the proof I need that it's really the rich gays who started this whole fight with their being all-so offended by the rest of us.

Jeez, people would listen to you if you'd just stop throwing around those insults, talking back, or disagreeing with brave and independent people like me.

Plus property value is pretty crazy out here in France, don't worry. But unless someone is paying a cold $79,835 a year for 30 years, they're not going to have a million dollar home. So, yeah, someone who can part with $80K a year, after their income taxes, food, utilities, other taxes, etc., does qualify as "rich."

You make a reasonable point concerning the fact that most LGBT folks aren't even close to having to worry about discriminatory treatment by the federal estate tax.

But some states, like Indiana, also impose an inheritance tax, which kicks in a lot lower and has kicked more than a small number of Hoosier same-sex couple survivors (and often their families) in the rear.

Property held jointly by a husband and wife get taxed not at all on the death of one; the survivor of a same-sex relationship gets a measly $ 100 exemption (same as if he/she were a total stranger), and then gets taxed on from 10 to 20 percent above that. And in a number of cases the survivor gets taxed on the half of the property that was already theirs.

THey don't have to be anywhere near the elite wealthy to get screwed just because of who they loved until death did they part.

I think the article was sticking to the DOMA and how the federal estate tax is unfair, not state-level estate taxes.

Gotta do my duty as a libertarian here...

I think it's unfair to stratify LGBT people based on "need" for their rights. Attempting to denigrate one LGBT's need in favor of another based on an unrelated facet -- in this case income -- is a real recipe for disaster.

To put things into an absurd metaphor (I love absurd metaphors!), consider this. If I were a survivor in the zombie apocalypse and needed to stop zombies from biting me, would I ignore zombies in three-piece suits and only focus on the ones in ratty t-shirts? After all, the zombie in the three-piece suit is probably rich enough to mail-order his brains from overseas, right?

I don't get the metaphor. Are the well-dressed zombies rich, the poorly-dressed ones poor, and the "I" who's shooting them a discriminatory straight boss? In that case, yes, you're going to go after the poorly-dressed zombies, so the well-dressed ones don't need space behind the ENDA Bullet Shield.

You are so right Alex, and don't let the PC brigade try to shame you into submission. These people's behavior and excesses are appalling, and if I were a straight person, I would rightly offended by attempts to push them on me. They were never part of the movement to begin with - who at Stonewall was stinkin' rich? They want to take advantage of all these years of lobbying on behalf of us, and come in with their whining of oppression and their money and jump in front of the line. I say let them form their own group, if they can. Don't get me wrong, I want freedom and rights for all, but you have to work for it. No freeriders.

Gosh, Alex, you are a genius, and thank goodness someone had the courage to say what I always thought.

I don't know why you think you're misunderstood. I read you loud and clear. And I'm sure there are many others there with us. They're just too confused by the rhetoric to take a stand. No one ever lost money underestimating the intelligence of the people.

Come on, people! Think!

I knew you'd see it my way, Jillian!

Re Stonewall: I know. What do these people think, that there were closeted Wall Street bankers who used to frequent that bar? That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard of.

I mean, we used to all be radical. Then at some point we had to accept more diversity, and now people like us are dumbfounded and asking who let these people in the movement anyway. Why should I waste my time caring about their interests?

We're so brave and independent, Jillian!

Yes, and you are so Swift. We should start a club.

I don't know about a club. I think my proposal is too modest for that.

Oh sarcastic rejoinder, how I love thee. Let me worship before thy satirical visage.

;)

Right there with ya!
We need to have cold water thrown on us now and then. Personally, I LIKE to have intelligent debate with thoughtful discussion that borders on the patently offensive-but I LOVE the sound of an ideology smacking soundly into reality!
What many people are going to forget to take into account here are the LGBT poor- and we are. Kids sleeping on the streets, addicts, jobless, mentally ill- all the unsexy realities that aren't easily reconciled with an Gay Cruise, a party or a parade.
Way to go.

Mid-level government workers here in the Washington area are frequently worth a million dollars after about 15 years in the civil service. Especially if you are not favoring LGBT marriage, it is even more important to protect all assets of both partners individually, so that the survivor does not have to sell everything to just pay all the death taxes to the feds and local govt, and end up loosing the house. It is the same argument that midwestern farm families have always had about the death taxes pushing them off the farm.

You wrote last week about your age. Although this may not apply to you, LGBT who are under the age of about 45, that is sons and daughters of baby boomers, are about to receive the largest transfer of wealth in American history as the boomer parents die off. The recipients will include a huge number of LGBT who should not be disenfranchised from the larger LGBT community because of their good luck.

Willian G. Tice | November 25, 2009 2:37 PM

I'm so with you, Pete. We must be concerned with rich GLBT people, because we all might one day find ourselves rich. This is why the Domestic Partner Benefits and Obligations law, HR 2517, is so important. It would protect those mid-level government workers. Though they're perhaps not rich, they obviously have a lot of money, but that should not be held against them. HR 2517 is going ahead of ENDA, which might make it more difficult or impossible to pass ENDA, but I say don't forget about the rich, because you might buy a lottery ticket and be rich yourself one day.

Being an openly Gay couple, I had some "discomfort"
with the concerns of "wealthy" members of the
LBGT community. In my opinion, most people (LBGT or
straight) do not/will not have a million dollars
in assets. Yes, I do appreciate the fact that alot
of "wealthy" individuals donate to LGBT causes.

Now for the point I am taking to make: one only
needs a certain amount of money/wealth to have a good life. For many members of the LGBT community
they live from paycheck to paycheck or retirement
check to retirement check. Guess because Thanksgiving is tomorrow and so many are in need,
I wonder how much alot of the so-called "wealthy"
members of the LBGT community have given to food
banks and the likes. Remember homeless also affects LBGT individuals and there is, in my opinion, a reason issue of homeless LBGT youth.
Finally, why does or would anyone want to have
such wealth when others have so little.

Sorry, for getting alittle off topic but when one dies: they can not take it with them!!

Sympathy Fatigue? Pragmatic? Is that what you call it Alex? I wholeheartedly disagree on principle. I understand your argument about the privilege of the rich and all that. Your pragmatic approach is reminiscent of a time when our community decided to cut the "T" out of the LGBT soup for purposes of "pragmatic and incremental" gain mentality. That's bullshit. You're causing more division with this contrived little post than anything else. The "We" in us includes the "All" of us. How can we as a community go advocate for equality for all when we actively cut the nose of part of our community off because they're rich? That would smack of hypocrisy, don't you think? I'm a poor, unemployed, struggling actor/activist and I find your post very distasteful. For your information, the Log Cabin Republicans (and I'm an independent), the rich gay boys that you're bashing are the ones who came to our rescue during the No on 8 Campaign. They helped us raised $1 million per day. Christian Berle, the executive director of Log Cabin Republicans was fighting with us side-by-side and shoulder-to-shoulder, plugging away at the computer doing data entry. He stayed up until 1 to 2 am most nights leading up to the election. Where were you, Mr. Armchair critic? I didn't see you doing anything for our community but critique. It's absurd that you and Jillian are even advocating we what round up our rich just like cattle much like the internment of the Japanese and send them off to another camp? As much as I used to despise gay republicans, but after seeing how they stepped up in such a huge way and even Charles Moran, their Finance Director, gave us trianing at the Boot Camp in Los Angeles, it made me realized, even though I don't agree with their political philosophy, they're still part of my community and they're working alongside me to work toward equality for all of us. Believe you me when the religious bigots come for us and strip away our rights, they don't give a shit about what class you're in, what color you are and what sex you are or where you come from, all they see us as are an abomination to their Lord, Jessuss Christ. Your reference to your fear of us being branded as rich people and that we're oppressing them is a valid argument. However, we can find creative ways to get around that. Our side has been taking the moral high ground while they lied, manipulated, used scare tactics (which you now are using as well with this post so you should be able to get a job with them) and deceived. Try again!

For your information, the Log Cabin Republicans (and I'm an independent), the rich gay boys that you're bashing are the ones who came to our rescue during the No on 8 Campaign.

Bravo and congrats on the win.

BTW, what's the deal with the Republicans? I said rich gays, not Republicans. Republicans, for no reason at all, are cool in my book.

It's absurd that you and Jillian are even advocating we what round up our rich just like cattle much like the internment of the Japanese and send them off to another camp?

No, that reference isn't over the top at all.

Believe you me when the religious bigots come for us and strip away our rights, they don't give a shit about what class you're in, what color you are and what sex you are or where you come from, all they see us as are an abomination to their Lord, Jessuss Christ.

Except they do. And they say so, like, all the time. At what point do we believe them and stop putting our fingers in our ears and shouting "lalalala"?

Your reference to your fear of us being branded as rich people and that we're oppressing them is a valid argument. However, we can find creative ways to get around that.

When? We still haven't yet. At some point we have to realize that we'll never get around that stereotype as long as those people are allowed to share the same movement.

Our side has been taking the moral high ground while they lied, manipulated, used scare tactics (which you now are using as well with this post so you should be able to get a job with them) and deceived.

So now I've rounded up the Japanese and put them in internment camps, and I'm the same as the Religious Right? I knew insults would come dribbling down on me from the PC crowd when I wrote this. But I'm far too courageous and free-thinking to be taken in by that. Every insult you fling at me proves me more and more right, somehow. If people can't freely debate at topic as important as how we define our movement without insults, then it's anyone who feels offended by my free-thinking ways that's already lost, because I know a silent majority of people agree with me.

Or something. I'm always right!

Your pragmatic approach is reminiscent of a time when our community decided to cut the "T" out of the LGBT soup for purposes of "pragmatic and incremental" gain mentality.

Yes. Funny. How. That. Happened.

I'd be careful calling upon the silent majority. That was Richard Nixon's big line all through Watergate.

It's hard to deny Alex's point that some people aren't part of the movement. It's right there in the definition. Don't get me wrong, I support the rights of these non-movement people. But they just can't expect to come in here at the last minute after we've been working for decades on equality and hold the rest of us back. Why should the rights of millions be tied to the rights of thousands? It's immoral.

Besides, Non-movement types and Republicans strongly support means testing.

You know, Nakhone, your point about this post's reasoning seeming similar to when our community decided to cut the "T" out of ENDA does seem to ring a bell. I'm not sure, but maybe it would be illogical and wrong to single out rich people. Maybe it would be equally illogical and wrong to single out trans people.

But now our community is solidly behind trans inclusion, so why worry?

Meanwhile, why not do the fun poll that The Advocate put up yesterday, "Would you support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act if gender identity protections were again taken out of the bill?" Now there's a question that needs voting on. Good one, Advocate!

Just for clarification, Christian Berle and I worked together on No on 1 in Maine. And, one more thing, Alex, you're using the same argument that the Log Cabin Republicans, those that I had run ins with used, which is that "sexuality is the only thing I have in common with them so why should I even march in step with them on other issues." Just sayin...

*bwahahahahahahahaha*

Not merely Swift, but downright Carlylesque -- perhaps a bit of the ever popular Wildesque, as well...

Mine's coming up, though it will lack the particular talent shown here, lol

Bashing ones own team is not the way to win the struggle. You really do not seem to realize that the so-called rich against who you vent are not all Hollywood moguls. Anyone with a moderately successful small business built over many years may show a worth of a million or more. This can be a deli, small real estate office,dry cleaner, or a travel agency. That million is a capitalized value. It is not a million in profits every year. Example 2: It can be a school teacher who bought her house 30 years ago, for $50,000.00 and it has now appreciated beyond her dreams, and it is valued well over a million. This kind of appreciation has happened all over the place. Her partner then can not stay living there because she has to sell it and pay all the taxes. I just worked with a woman who lost her lesbian partner of many years, to cancer, and had lots of medical bills. They had pooled all their resources, and had a common account for finances. Since the IRS does not recognize their relationship, in an audit, the survivor was told that all money that the deceased partner paid for her over the years on various things would be taxable as gifts. It was a big long and unpleasant demeaning situation for this elderly lesbian to be literally fighting for her dignity and to avoid having to pay all these alleged back taxes for the "gifts" from her partner. Are you saying that you do not think that DOMA should be repealed? The estate tax issue is only one aspect of DOMA repeal.
Too many of the arguments here on Bilerico involve disagreement over the sequencing of the matters on the LGBT agenda, and looking for the boogeyman (boogeyperson?) within our own community.
In the meantime, Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.

I'm in the same boat as far as having no worries about having millions to worry about, ever.

My question, Alex, is whether you're arguing with a straw man. The Advocate article doesn't name anyone who is fighting for a change in estate tax law or vying for attention, action, or dollars from LGBT folks; it just cites a report which quantifies one aspect of marriage discrimination.

Terrance Heath has written about the apparent impact estate taxes have had on Annie Leibovitz.

The folks most at risk are families in which one spouse is wealthy and the other is not, or they share ownership of a business or farm at which the spouse and/or adult kids are employed. Surviving family members can be thrust into debt or forced to sell off part or all of their livelihood.

So, in 2011, you're running a business with 20 employees worth $10 million on paper, and your husband dies. If he owned it and left it to you, you'll need to write a check for close to $5 million to keep it, or $2 million and change if you were equal owners. Not the straight widow or widower running the business next door, just you.

Or, again in 2011 (the estate tax goes away temporarily in 2010), you're living in your husband's $2 million house when he dies. (He bought it cheap 30 years ago.) The straight widow next door is staying put, but you're either selling or writing a check for $350K.

The scale is larger than a friend mine, whose partner's daughter gave him 30 days after the funeral to clear out of his home of 22 years, but the principle is the same.

No sympathy required from us, just the ongoing work for equality.

Um, about that Terrance Heahth post regarding Annie Liebovitz: it was based on a flawed premise. Terrance posted that piece on Bilerico as well, and I pointed out that Liebovitz never suffered in the way he asserted.

Here's the article which completely disputes that argument:

http://nymag.com/fashion/09/fall/58346/

And here's a link to Terrance's post, which engendered an interesting conversation:

http://www.bilerico.com/2009/09/leaving_out_part_of_the_liebovitz_story.php

I've tried to go over to Terrance's post and post a comment, but I notice that he has closed it to comments. So, here goes, the comment I left on his blog:

"Terrance,

You're repeating a popular canard that you were partly responsible for, judging from your Republic of T post. The melodramatic story that Liebovitz's financial situation is due to her supposed inability to marry Sontag has been disputed by now. For a more up to date version of why Liebovitz is in the state she's in, see New York magazine's extremely illuminating piece here:

http://nymag.com/fashion/09/fall/58346/

For the specific paragraph on Sontag's estate, see this:

"When the state of Leibovitz’s finances later became public, outlets like Salon trumpeted the “gay tax” theory, the idea that Leibovitz’s finances had been depleted by the taxes she’d had to pay on her inheritance from Sontag. That wasn’t true. With the exception of four items of only sentimental value, the bulk of Sontag’s estate went to David Rieff, Sontag’s only child. Leibovitz’s relationship with Sontag was not mentioned in Sontag’s New York Times obituary, and Leibovitz did not speak at Sontag’s memorial service."

If Sontag had wanted to leave more to Liebovitz, she could have and would have. Liebovitz was not financially broken by Sontag's estate simply because she did not inherit vast amounts of property to begin with. The fact that she didn't doesn't imply any love lost between them (even if that were the case). Here's the point: Lovers don't have to leave things to each other to prove anything to the world. Their relationships can operate outside the box of wealth and possessions. They might, horrors, be content to simply have sustained bonds of love. Yes, imagine that, love without marriage! Shocking concept, but let's remember that our ties to each other don't need marriage to justify them.

Let's all remember that Sontag and Liebovitz had a complicated relationship, not one easily defined by the usual gay-lesbian rhetoric around everlasting love and couples sworn to be attached at the hip. What, pray tell, is disrespectful about describing two people as lovers, especially since the two women seemed to have preferred that term? The word "lovers" is in quotation marks, yes, but it's preceded by the word "self-described." Hence, "lovers" is how they described themselves. It's also the word a lot of us prefer. Believe it or not, not every queer relationship is about marriage or about being defined as partners in conventional ways.

By the way, Liebovitz just got some breathing space: http://tinyurl.com/r3r5dc

The lesson to be taken from Liebovitz's woes is not that lesbians ought to be able to marry (and Sontag was never comfortable with that word, for a myriad reasons). The lesson is: hold on to your assets, and try not to believe that present prosperity will last for ever. In that, the Times Online piece and the New York piece provide more illumination."

With regard to this estate tax, I think it's worth noting part of Nancy Polikoff's response to Terrance's blog (and I recommend that everyone read her comment in its entirety):

"I think everyone knows that I don't believe marriage deserves "special rights" -- gay or straight. But somehow no one has mentioned what I consider the most important point (aside from not spreading untruths): THE ONLY TIME AN ESTATE TAX IS LEVIED IS WHEN THE DECEDENT HAS MORE THAN $3.5 MILLION (It was $2 million, I believe, when Sontag died). As far as I am concerned NO ONE should be able to leave ANYONE more money than that without paying taxes. Including spouses."

Well put, I think.

Also, in addition, with regard to those rich, rich gays, here are some sobering facts:

"The wealthiest 10 percent of Americans — those making more than $138,000 each year — earned 11.4 times the roughly $12,000 made by those living near or below the poverty line in 2008, according to newly released census figures. That ratio was an increase from 11.2 in 2007 and the previous high of 11.22 in 2003."

http://tinyurl.com/y9cphgc

I think we have a lot more to worry about with the state of our economy and the enormous gap between the rich and the poor, than with the imagined or wished-for lives of rich gay men and women that some or many of us might like to attain.

I too think that rich gays and lesbians need to be ignored, but I don't see that as a politically pragmatic move. I see it as a way for us to get out of the neoliberal politics of marriage and towards a larger discussion of the horrifying inequality in which we, in the most industrialised nation, live.

Not only are we not likely to end up rich, we should not be aspiring to be part of a society with such a gap between the rich and the poor. In other words, we should not *have* to be rich, or married, in order to get basic human rights like health care. Or a good education for our kids. Clean water. Nutritious food. You know, all the things that so many of us are lacking today. In the U.S.

Hey Yasmin... OK, I hadn't seen the additional info on the Sontag/Liebovitz relationship.

I support keeping an estate tax, by the way; I just think it should be done fairly. Unless changed by Congress, in 2011 it will go back to where it was at in 2002, and that's a good thing in my book.

My core point stands, though: I don't see anybody working to change estate tax law. All we've got is a report of the impact of existing law on gay couples, and knowledge that marriage equality will fix the discrepancy.

No, the question isn't at all whether I'm arguing with a straw man (or woman!). If you think that's the question, then I think you've missed the point (hint: check the tags).

OK, so now I'm feeling like I'm back in 8th grade... a little self-conscious about being dorky, yet a hair self-righteous about nailing the truth quicker than some of the smart kids.

It's safe to say, Alex, that I'll check the tags before responding to your future posts!

This is great, Alex! Thanks for posting it; I needed a laugh after seeing the Advocate's stupid little poll.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | November 25, 2009 8:05 PM

It would be far more interesting to have a concise list of those things for which you find sympathy. If you go through an endless search for absolute purity of motive of *every thing* before you can endorse equality of civil rights before the law you accomplish nothing. I think that has to be weighed in with "courageous, free thinking and pragmatic" discussions.

You will be a millionaire many times over when you die Alex. It is called inflation. These laws need to be attended to because the longer they remain the greater the imbalance for those who elect to exercise their freedom to have a family.

Like you, I chose to leave Indiana, because of it's jerkwater backwardness. Perhaps we both should have stayed there and exercised our "free thinking" and seen how far we would have gotten.

I see where your piece is coming from, but speaking ill of any of our own builds nothing. Advocate those things for which you have "sympathy" and build alliances.

Word! Robert, are you married? Better yet, are you rich? I'm looking to marry rich! :=)

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | November 26, 2009 6:03 AM

Good luck with that Haknone.

Equality means same. It would be helpful if we a;; understood that. Especially a self-proclaimed "advocate" of LGBT Equality.

Amy McDonald | November 26, 2009 2:06 AM

"Part of it is the fact that I don't really know how we all ended up in the same movement together. Being gay used to be subversive, about shaking up power structures, about challenging the system. Now these folks think that they can make it all about the estate tax and protecting their millions".
Geez and here I thought it meant having an attraction to the same sex.That description makes the attraction to same sex sound like a choice and that it's really all about being a radical outcast.
Amy without a choice

Alex & Dr.Jillian

My first reaction to this post was to start dying with laughter! Then I read Dr. Jillian's response and was laughing even harder! I read the rest of the responses and started to cry. Alex & Dr. Jillian one word.... Awesome!

There's obviously going to be a part 2 coming. I'm non-ironically appalled by the level of discussion here.

of course! I mean, everyone knows, that when a gay person gets rich, they stop being gay, there's no discrimination anymore, and life is just perfect! Thank goodness we have such people like you here to tell us these things!

Seriously, it's people like YOU that should be kicked out of the movement.

of course! I mean, everyone knows, that when a gay person gets rich, they stop being gay, there's no discrimination anymore, and life is just perfect! Thank goodness we have such people like you here to tell us these things!

I'm going to take that literally, because I've clicked to follow the jump on this post and for some reason I can't recognize sarcasm, irony, or satire anymore.

So you think that rich gays stop being gay? That's so weird and incorrect! Let me write 8 paragraphs explaining why that's wrong!

I don't believe the Williams Institute study was trying to argue that DOMA hurts only rich gays. There are lots of adverse impacts on us ordinary couples, too. For example, if your partner ends up in a nursing home, spends all his savings on care and then is forced onto Medicaid, the government can force you out of your house. If you were a different-gender legal spouse, that wouldn't happen. Take a look at Social Security. If your partner had low-wage jobs before he retired, chances are his SS pension check is just a pittance. But if he could claim your work record in his entitlement formula -- as different-gender legal spouses can -- he probably could add several hundred dollars a month to his check. Yes, I get your point that it's hard to feel sympathy for rich gays having to pay more in inheritance tax. But let's remember that all of us in coupled relationships are treated unfairly because of DOMA.

I think Alex has made the intentions and genre of his post amply clear by now. Perhaps a closer perusal of the language of his original post and his comments is in order.

That being said, it's useful to remember that instead of simply advocating for same-sex and opposite-sex coupled relationships to be treated similarly, we might remember that not everyone *is* in a coupled relationship and that, in fact, marriage is generally on the decline in the U.S (and in many parts of the world). Our goal ought to be make tax laws and social security more equitable for everyone, not just for married couples.

If tax reform is to be a crucible for social change, it's worth considering the facts over fiction. Here's Bella DePaulo dismantling the NYT story that so many have been quoting:

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/living-single/200910/the-high-price-being-single

"In every category that the reporters analyze, singles are shortchanged. They do not have access to health insurance through a partner's plan. They don't have access to anyone else's Social Security benefits. Singles cannot even give their own benefits to any survivor in their own generation, even though they may have worked for those benefits for the same number of years and the same level of accomplishment as a married colleague (whose benefits do go to the surviving spouse). Singles cannot transfer unlimited assets without paying estate taxes. They do not receive pension benefits from anyone else and no one else can contribute to their I.R.A. And on and on."


And here's Nancy Polikoff on the same NYT piece:

http://beyondstraightandgaymarriage.blogspot.com/2009/10/cost-of-being-gay-couple-new-york-times.html

"The article posits the hypothetical couple having a joint income of $140,000 a year. This perpetuates the myth of gay affluence, something roundly debunked by the careful research of the Williams Institute. And for poor same-sex couples, they are, like different-sex unmarried couples, sometimes better off not being married (the Earned Income Tax Credit is one example.) ...lawyers who specialize in elder law often advise their heterosexual couple clients not to marry...But no partner in the hypothetical couples used as examples in the Times article needs nursing home care. Lucky them."

I think it's interesting that the Williams Institute report, which highlights the fact that gays and lesbians actually do live in poverty, is being used to further the argument for gay marriage when it actually indicates that marriage is not the solution. When two poor people marry, they double their chances of financial insecurity and even bankruptcy; marriage is not a part of economic justice under any circumstance.


And that was response to Tom's comment, btw. Although it seems applicable to a lot of what's being said in this thread.

My apology to Alex for not catching his satiric drift on first reading. Re tax policy, I think any individual who supports a dependent -- whether that's a child, nonworking partner, elderly parent or disabled non-relative -- deserves preferential tax treatment compared to that of a self-supporting individual who does not take on those obligations. Marital status, gender and sexual identity should be irrelevant to your tax bill. But the DINKs don't deserve any tax breaks, imho, and the whole tax system should be progressive in structure, rather than flat-rate.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | November 28, 2009 8:13 AM

When the phrase "when two poor people marry" is used, and points to poverty as the result, I flinch.

How about: When two people commit to one another and the other person's lifetime betterment? This is regardless of orientation.

Those people will not have financial insecurity in the United States. They will have a purpose, share a plan and life's goal to do better in all areas of their lives. I would wish this good luck upon you. Just the ability to commit, not any institution. May "Goddess" bless America and her imperfect financial systems that often allow people who strive to thrive. Ask an Asian, Indian, or Hispanic immigrant. In comparison to the 95% of countries in the world that do not allow for such good luck the socialist agenda of Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe speaks volumes. Once the breadbasket of Southern Africa, now the basement. This, the chances of success of the hungry socialist alternative.