With momentum for marriage equality rolling ahead and acceptance of LGBT issues at an all time high in polls, it can be sometimes be easy to forget just how pervasive institutional discrimination against LGBT people can be.
And then you get a letter in the mail reminding you of just that.
My husband, who I legally wed in California prior to Proposition 8 passing (thereby being grandfathered in to a state of pseudo-marriage equality limbo), got a letter from TIAA-CREF Financial Services in the mail entitled "Notice Regarding Civil Unions in the State of Illinois." The letter, like a slap in the face, laid out in stark terms exactly how the patchwork of rights created by the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) impacts same-sex couples in ways many don't even consider.
The letter states:
"Pursuant to Section 3 of the Federal Defense of Marriage Act ("DOMA"), same-sex couples and civil unions are not recognized for the purposes of federal law. Therefore, the favorable income-deferral options afforded by federal tax law to an opposite-sex spouse under Internal Revenue Code sections 72(s) and 401(a)(9) and "spousal continuation" rights are currently not available to a party in a civil union."
This is what discrimination looks like, even when it comes in a form letter. There on a page, in black and white, is a reminder to same-sex couples that their relationships aren't viewed as equal in the eyes of their government. I'm not sure many heterosexual couples can imagine what it's like to open your mail and get a letter like this out of the blue - a written dig at your life and family.
Copy of the letter and more after the break.