It finally came this week. My family and I had just returned from a free (unless you count the jewelry we pawned for gas money) weekend vacation with queer family. Waiting in the mailbox, was a sweet taste of heterosexual privilege, in check form, no less. It was a lovely, and totally expected gesture.
Me and my newly hetero lover debated how to spend the money. Vibrators? Glitter? As subversive (although I understand the my straight, er, fellow straight friends also use such things) and fun as those ideas are, we decided to use the money to deal with the latest disconnect notice from the utility company. Indeed, our inability to pay our bills and provide for our daughter was the impetus. We simply couldn’t afford to be lesbians anymore.
At this point, I probably should explain things. My family has health insurance through my employer. In addition to my daughter and me, my family includes my partner, who is, er, was, a lesbian. While the State of New York extends health insurance benefits to the domestic partners of its employees, federal regulations make the accounting a bit bizarre.
Health insurance is really important and essential (although not essential enough that everyone automatically gets it), that employees’ contributions to health insurance premiums are tax-free. Usually. If you’re the domestic partner of an employee, your sweetie pays for your health insurance premiums after income tax is taken out of hir check. Also, any employer contribution to your health insurance premiums counts as income, because your health insurance is a bonus. This whole set up is to protect the children. Or something.
If you turn your domestic partnership into a federally approved (heterosexual) marriage, a few things happen. You pay fewer taxes to the federal government (due to differences in withholding, it’s not yet clear to me what this means in my case, but my bi-weekly take home pay appears to have risen by a three digit amount). You get to file taxes jointly, which has its benefits. If you’ve already overpaid the taxes on your new spouse’s insurance benefits, your employer might end up sending you a check in the mail, like mine did:
There are all kinds of benefits to marriage, which plenty of other folks have cataloged. These include deeply personal rights, like hospital visitation, as well as any variety of financial benefits (including the costs of not having to pay a lawyer to secure some of the benefits that go along with marriage).
One assumes that straight couples regularly turn their domestic partnerships into marriage. In our case, I happen to be transsexual, which by the very bizarre logic of the federal government makes my lesbian relationship hetero (more on this later). Of course, the big point is that most gay and lesbian couples can’t just choose to receive these benefits for their relationship. That, and I got a check in the mail for not being a homo.
One of the many reasons I don’t like talking about the fact that my sweetie and I are married is that I’ve seen random people use transsexual people’s relationships as punching bags far too often (regularly, even). I don’t want to have to defend my lesbianism, nor my partner’s, to accusations based on what other people thought about me at my birth. We don’t identify as a married heterosexual couple—we never have, for that matter. Read more…