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Get Married or Else

by Shawanda Greene

Shirtless gay male couple in cutoff shorts

Photo by Sérgio Savaman Savarese

Since I was a child, I could not understand why a certain segment of our population was granted fewer rights than the rest. Aren’t we all Americans?

You mind your business. I’ll mind mine.

As long as no one is harmed by the consensual relationship of two (or three or four) mentally competent adults, then they should be free to do whatever they darn well please.

Needless to say, I love to see my country progressively move in the direction of more equal treatment for its citizens and those who lawfully reside within it. So, when New York joined Connecticut, Iowa, California, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Washington, D.C. in legalizing same-sex marriage, I was ecstatic.

Apparently, so was IBM, Corning, and Raytheon. Before New York legalized same-sex marriage, these corporations generously provided health insurance to the partners of employees in domestic partnerships. Now they’re telling their gay employees, in states where same-sex marriage is legal, to either get married or the health insurance spigot your partner enjoys will be shut off.

Keeping in the swing of things, same sex couples can now use simple tax software to file together, and enjoy the benefits that married couples have had for decades. The efforts of many voices are producing progressive results in terms of shared benefits for same sex couples, which has been long in the making, and ensures that our fellow American gays will have more than they think in future financial decisions.

I think this is awesome. It’s only fair.

When you fight for equal treatment and get it, you gotta take the good with the bad. If you love your partner so much, marry ‘em. Why should you continue receiving a benefit you got because you weren’t allowed to do something when you can now do that thing you weren’t previously allowed to do?

What do you think? Should same-sex couples be required to get married in order for their partner to continue receiving health insurance benefits under the company plan? Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below. 

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Jeroen July 12, 2011 at 8:51 AM

No, not right away at least. Getting married is not something to rush into. These companies should allow their employees to take some time to make the right decision, some of them might not want to marry at all so they should consider their options. Others might first want to save some money for "the big day".

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Shawanda July 12, 2011 at 11:57 AM

I agree you should give employees in same sex partnerships time. But only enough time to plan a quick wedding. If you're committed to the person who's on your health insurance plan, then I say, put up or shut up. People in opposite sex domestic partnerships usually can't have their live-in boyfriend or girlfriend covered under their health insurance plan. So, it shouldn't be any different for same-sex couples.

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CnC August 23, 2011 at 2:44 PM

I have heard that in the US "common law" relationships don't typically get recognized by companies who dole out benefits or by the government either.

In Canada my boyfriend and I are considered a "common law" couple because we have lived together for more than a year. This means he is eligible for my benefits at work, which I gratefully put him on.

Gay or Straight if you're in a long term committed relationship why should you have to get married to get the benefits? I certainly believe in equality for all and I'm proud that gay marriage is legal in Canada. I am absolutely not against marriage either but for some couples it takes time, why should I have to rush such an important event? For others they are happy to be in a committed relationship where they don't need a piece of paper to validate it, why shouldn't they receive the same benefits?

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Andrea August 25, 2011 at 12:20 PM

Business owners offer health insurance as a benefit to gain/retain quality employees. It is an expensive proposition to extend that benefit to the employee's family – yet many companies do. Allowing non-married couples to receive the benefit leaves eligibility open to interpretation – and possible abuse. The clear distinction of "employee + spouse/children" makes a fair application of the benefit easier.

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