September 20, 2004

HEAD CASES (via Fred Jacobsen):

Gays cautious about new partners law: Some opt out, fearing legal or financial troubles (Rona Marech, September 20, 2004, SF Chronicle)

Gay men and lesbians throughout California are poised to celebrate when the state's muscular new domestic partners law takes effect Jan. 1 -- but a funny thing is happening on the way to the ribbon cutting. Some committed couples are saying thanks, but no thanks.

They are dissolving their current legal partnerships or declining to sign up, mainly because they're worried that under the new law -- which extends state marriage rights and responsibilities to same-sex partners -- their public benefits could be slashed, or they could wind up in a financial or legal quagmire. [...]

Randy Cupp of San Francisco is among those who view the new law as an important step toward equal rights, but will nonetheless pass up the chance to register with his partner.

"If you're going to give us the responsibilities, you need to give us the benefits as well," said Cupp, 41. "That was my overall feeling about it."

Cupp suffers from chronic fatigue syndrome; his partner, Jeff Tarvin, has chronic pain. Both are HIV-positive and collect disability. Tarvin also receives Medi-Cal, which covers the cost of all his medical care.

Cupp is worried that if they register with the state, the couple's combined worth could cost Tarvin his Medi-Cal coverage. Eligibility for Medi- Cal and other programs such as CalWorks for single parents, Supplemental Security Income for disabled people and the Cash Assistance Program for Immigrants is based in part on a married couple's income and assets. [...]

Gale Golden and her longtime partner, Jeanine Reisbig, of San Francisco plan to dissolve their partnership before the end of the year to avoid jeopardizing Golden's SSI benefits. She has been dealing with chronic pain since a 1989 car accident.

As Mr. Jacobsen says, these folks sure seem more interested in the social imprimatur than actually accepting responsibilities. We'd just note the extent to which they conform to caricature with their psychological illnesses.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 20, 2004 6:52 PM

I don't think it even has much to do with the social imprimatur, except in the most superficial sense. I think it has more to do with hate.

Posted by: Peter B at September 20, 2004 7:22 PM

Sorry, I probably should have said rage.

Posted by: Peter B at September 20, 2004 7:23 PM

Well, it appears that this new domestic partnership law will function exactly like marriage does for heterosexuals in at least one important way: It helps prospective partners separate the committed from the players.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at September 20, 2004 9:48 PM


Among gay men the committed and the players are not as easily distinguishable.

Posted by: Vince at September 20, 2004 10:50 PM

Don't we see the same phenomena among heterosexual welfare dependent people?

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at September 21, 2004 1:26 AM


If you won't sign a partnership contract, you're not committed.



I once read about an older couple, married for decades, who got divorced to take advantage of, or to avoid getting hurt by, some technicality in some gov't programme.
They continued to live together, which in many states would make them common-law spouses...

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at September 21, 2004 8:00 AM