..the former Democrat to co-sponsor federal Domestic Partnership Bill.
Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) is introducing the bill, but frankly it is a very small step in the right direction. She’s the only lesbian representative currently in Congress. An identical version of the bill in the senate is co-sponsored by Lieberman and Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine (a gay-loving New Englander? why doesn’t she just switch parties already.) The bill is not gay marriage or anywhere near it. There are howwver benefits for federal employees and their same sex spouses, a posistion that is already taken by pretty much every state and municipality worth inhabiting.
The real benefit is that gay couples would be eligible to recieve their spouses Social Security benefits in certain situations. What I don’t get is that as far as I can tell Social Security Disability benefits aren’t mentioned in the bill, only retirement. Straight couples married for at least ten years are eligible for Disabled Widows benefits drawing of their deceased spouse’s account if they become disabled and can’t work. Straight married couples also are eligible to become a substitute party for their spouse who dies if they have a Disability case pending at the time of their death.
I hope a lot of these things are hashed out as the bill is debated, but I think it’s a bit misleading to call it a Domestic Partnership bill because that implies that it’s allowing something akin to marriage. This bill grants a very small benefit and should be doing a LOT more. Baldwin seems to understand this:
“I know that as the author of this measure,” Baldwin said, “we have to continue to educate for both marriage equality and equal employment benefits for domestic partners, and it’s important in that educational process to have the facts about how the current state of inequality affects those in same-sex partnerships.”
That said I think that we’re undoubtedly ready for this bill. Most people favor extending basic benefits like these, and those who oppose it are just going to look like bigoted assholes. If a tiny gesture like this can’t pass we’re in a heap of trouble.