There are folks who insist (as they oppose any and all efforts through the legislative and judicial branches to secure equal treatment for our families) that they bear no animus toward the GLBT community. We’re not really discriminated against, the argument goes, because we can draw up legal contracts to reproduce the same arrangements that married heterosexual couples enjoy.
Aside from the fact that the need to do so is, in and of itself, a special tax on our time and resources, and aside from the fact that in Virginia our defaced Constitution leaves such contracts vulnerable to challenge, the following examples illustrate just how grossly inadequate and unfair such arrangements are when the rubber meets the road. Hat tip to Equality Maryland, and a thumbs up to the good work they are doing to educate lawmakers across the river:
Take the case of Ellen Carr of Howard County, who told legislators that after her partner of more than twenty years, Judi, passed away in 1999, the government assessed a whopping $60,000.00 inheritance tax on the home that they owned together ““ a tax she wouldn’t have had to pay had she been married to a man! Judi had worked for the federal government for years, but Ellen wasn’t entitled to her pension or social security benefits.
“We had no idea of how inheritance taxes would affect us,” Ellen testified. “Our wills were written by an attorney. We felt we were doing all we needed to do to protect our assets. And we believed that the laws would treat us fairly. We were naive and very wrong. I was taxed on money that I contributed to and helped to fund. The laws separated us in death and did not allow me the opportunity to decide how I would use the money that Judi imagined I would receive from her inheritance.”
Paul Gordon of Montgomery County told legislators that he still isn’t listed on the deed to the home that he shares with his partner because of the prohibitive transfer taxes that same-sex couples have to pay, but that married couples and a slew of other relatives are exempt from.
“My partner Rick and I met back in 1992, a couple of years after he’d bought a house in Silver Spring,” Paul testified. “That house ““ our home ““ is still in his name only. And I live in fear that I could lose it if something happened to him. In 2005, I told a House committee how Rick and I had just spent three weeks as a family with his mother in intensive care and decided as a family to end her life-support. But Maryland says that Rick and I are not a family. Maryland says we are no different than two total strangers. And when I testified in 2005, Maryland was forcing us to choose: If we wanted to put my name on the title of our home, that meant we could not afford a gravestone for Rick’s mother. We picked the gravestone, and three years later, I still have no ownership interest in my own home, and I could lose it if something happens to Rick,” Paul stated. He added, “Current law imposes a financial punishment on innocent families and puts us at risk of losing our homes. It’s cruel. It’s wrong. And you can put a stop to it.”