Shortly after the passage of Proposition 8 in California, the rights and privileges of opposite-sex couples were enumerated and totaled, at the Federal level, 1138 rights of marriage that are not enjoyed by same-sex couples. Since that time, that list has shrunken slightly, to 1136 rights.
The first right to be granted to same-sex couples was a side-effect of George W. Bush declaring, upon leaving office, that the beneficiary of your retirement plan no longer has to be a relative to avoid taxes. Obviously, this was a benefit to more than just same-sex couples.
The second right to be granted to same-sex couples wasn’t really granted, but suggested by President Obama. In an act that heterosexist America would call unconscionable, Obama suggested that hospitals grant visitation rights to same-sex couples and comply with their Powers of Attorney. This suggestion is similar to the suggestion that states make the legal drinking age 21 – do it, or you won’t get certain funding. In the present case, Obama declared that should a hospital not follow the suggestion, Medicare/Medicaid benefits would be cancelled.
While I’m very happy that Obama would take such a step to help those of us who are affected by such horrifying inhumane acts of discrimination, I’m concerned that non-complying hospitals will begin denying treatment to Medicare/Medicaid recipients for fear of losing the funding.
This victory is bitter sweet, but evidences the path we’ve been taking for decades in the quest for full equality under the law – we’re getting it, but only one right at a time. So let’s do it Obama’s way. Let’s take one right at a time and 1136 more rights (and countless pieces of paper) later, we’ll have less trees, more waste and still suffer the stigma of “separate but equal.” However, a full repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”) would help institute all remaining 1126 denied rights using far less paper and energy while simultaneously eliminating the ideology that separate can ever be equal. Come on Obama, save a rain forest and repeal DOMA now!