I know there are plenty of people in this world who think that giving gays domestic partner health benefits results from us asking for “special treatment.” Really, this could not be farther from the truth. Unnamed Partner and I would give just about anything to be treated equally with my straight, married co-workers. Instead, we are being asked to jump through endless hoops to “prove” ourselves and document our relationship.
This is “special treatment” we can do without.
You see, I work for the state of Maryland, and early last spring our governor announced that he wanted to begin offering health benefits to lgbt domestic partners of state employees, beginning July 1. Governor O’Malley gets a lot of grief for a lot of things (and rightfully so), but on this he was a leader. Of course, the logistics of it all seems to have been an afterthought. When open benefits season came in May, we signed U.P. on, and the forms simply said “you will be asked for documentation at a later date.”
After July 1, we received a letter stating the various ways we could “prove” our relationship. Thus begins the running around looking for documents older than 12 months to show we “Have been in a committed relationship of mutual interdependence for at least 12 consecutive months in which each individual contributes to some extent to the other individual’s maintenance and support with the intention of remaining in the relationship indefinitely.”
What the what? First of all, remaining in the relationship indefinitely? How about a little respect for our 11 years together this fall, and our commitment to remain in the relationship permanently.
Indefinite: “not clearly defined or determined; not precise or exact”
Second of all, do straight people have to show a history of financial interdependence? Or do they just check a box that says “married”? I mean, for example, one of the acceptable items of proof is a bank statement from more than 12 months ago. I don’t know about you, but we don’t keep bank statements for that long — not unless we have a reason to, like planning to buy a house or something. So we scrambled around to get copies of primary beneficiary forms — which has meant phone calls and emails and a lot of time spent to prove ourselves. Again, do married couples have to document a history together? Of course not.
So if you think lgbt domestic partners are getting “special treatment,” it seems you are correct. And that is special treament we can do without, thank you very much.