Contrary to these arguments are supporters of same sex marriages who argue that anti-discrimination laws did not go far enough in creating equality among different sexual orientations. By not allowing gay men and women to enter same sex marriages the government is denying them rights given to heterosexual couples. Even in states which allow same sex marriages, discrimination will not be eliminated until the federal government acknowledges those marriages.
The lack of federal acknowledgment is discriminatory because it prevents married gay men and women from having the 1,138 federal rights given to heterosexual marriages including:
Social Security benefits upon death, disability or retirement of spouse, as well as benefits for minor children.
Family and Medical Leave protections to care for a new child or sick/ injured family member.
Workers’ Compensation protections for the family of a worker injured on the job.
Access to COBRA insurance benefits so the family doesn’t lose health insurance when one spouse is laid off.
Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) protections such as the ability to leave a pension, other than Social Security, to your spouse.
Exemptions from penalties on IRA and pension rollovers.
Exemptions from estate taxes when a spouse dies.
Exemptions from federal income taxes on spouse’s health insurance.
The right to visit a sick or injured loved one, have a say in life and death matters during hospitalization 11
Even state level civil unions fail to recreate these rights to any extent because there is no state level equivalent. Social Security benefits, tax exemptions, shared property rights, and decision making/ visitation rights during hospitalization are real consequences of federally recognized marriage. These inequalities affect the quality of life of same sex families by preventing children and spouses from having access to extended healthcare insurance provided by the other spouse’s employment, a right protected for heterosexual marriages. Continue reading →
For twenty years The Little North Pole in Rockaway, NYC celebrated with Santa, presents, music, and the most spectacular Christmas lights display this side of the East River. There’s a carousel, rotating figurines, and greater than life-size dancing animatronics all in one backyard.
Every year this party and the lasting December display raises money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and local hospitals. Past years have been known to raise as much as $175,000. In addition to the good work The Little North Pole does supporting research to cure and treat juvenile diabetes, it also unites the community in a time when Rockaway is still rebuilding after hurricane Sandy.
If you live in the Rockaways you know the extent to which this celebration has become essential to the community’s holiday traditions. Please spare some time and check out the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
Everyone experiences life changing heartbreaks, disappointments, and tragedy. We lose a loved one or have our own futures snatched from us. Our lives are turned upside down.
But people are resilient. Out of the Holocaust came newly forged families. Countries rebuild following civil wars, genocides, and natural disasters. The past tragedies become our new normal. We live and adapt. There is substantial research on grief and our ability to move on.
So what if our lives were literally turned upside down? In 1950, Ivo Kohler and Theodor Erismann documented their experiments in human perception at the university of Innsbruck, Austria. Kohler wore a unique pair of glasses that used mirrors to make the world appear upside down. At first he had difficulty with everything from pouring tea to grabbing a pen. Up was down and down was up. He found it very difficult to function.
However as time went on Kohler adapted. At first it took work and practice. He had to get out of bed and try really hard just to complete everyday tasks that had been second nature before. It was frustrating. But every day became a little easier. Every day had a new accomplishment. And after two weeks his life was normal again.
When we face personal tragedy it feels as though our world is turned upside down. We lose our ability to function. Daily activities become a struggle and we just want to give up. But research and personal experience has shown me that people are resilient. The kids and adults I have worked with in shelters and respite centers evidence the fact that terrible things happen that completely change every aspect of our lives. But everyone can regain control of their life.
Two weeks – and the world will start to turn right side up.
Kohler, I. (1964). The Formation and Transformation of the Perceptual World. New York: International Universities Press. Gregory, R. L. (1998). “Eye and Brain.” The Psychology of Seeing fifth edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 138 -190. Stratton, G. M. (1897). “Vision without inversion of the retinal image.” Psychological Review. (4) 341, 360-463.