Joint Filing: Why I Really Want To Marry My Same-Sex Partner
It's tax time again.
This past week, my same-sex partner of thirteen years and I gathered together all of our W2's, 1099's, and other documents and began the arduous task of filing our returns. We have a tax program that we've used for several years now, so the process is a little less painful. That is, it wasn't painful until the program told us, "Based on the information you have provided, your filing status is Single."
Every year that hits me like a slap in the face. According to the U.S. Government, I am single. This guy by my side that has stood by me through thick and thin... well he must just be my friend. Or roommate. Hell, he could be Santa Claus for all the IRS cares. And so once again this year, we filed our taxes separately under the Single filing status.
Filling out the separate returns really is not a big deal from a task perspective. Sure it's a little extra paperwork, but that's not my gripe. I am primarily curious about how our tax liability might be different if we could file a joint return. You see, we own a house together like any married couple would, but only one of us gets to claim the mortgage interest on our statement. We save up all our donation receipts and put them on one tax return, even though the items donated were both of ours. I cannot help but wonder if it would save us money if we were allowed to file joint. We might be better off filing separately, but that is not the issue. Not even having the option of filing joint is.
And that is the real reason why I want to marry my partner.
Conservatives like to claim that gay marriage makes a mockery of "God's law" and marriage in general, but the divorce rate shows that they've already accomplished that quite well on their own without our help. Quite frankly, I could not care less if my marriage is "blessed" by the conservatives. I know what my partner and I have is real, and I do not need anyone's approval for it. Even so, I want the same rights heterosexual married partners have.
Beyond filing taxes, there are numerous other situations where being married would be beneficial. When one of us finally dies, I do not want to have to fight some long lost "blood relative" of his for the house and possessions that we share. Without a carefully worded will, that is a real possibility. Also if either of us is ever hospitalized, I want to make sure the other one is not barred from being bedside because they are not "immediate family." I could continue to cite examples such as these, and the list would go on and on.
So what is the conservatives' point in banning same-sex marriage then? Is it to prevent me from filing my taxes jointly with my partner? If that's the case, that is a clear violation of separation of church and state: your religious beliefs should not affect my tax return. More likely, the conservatives hope to discourage homosexuality and more importantly, gay sex by blocking gays and lesbians from getting married. If it wasn't specifically about preventing gay sex, why would so many churches adopt the attitude of "love the sinner, hate the sin?" According to that line of thinking, is it okay to be gay as long as you never act on it?
It would appear that what really gets the religious right's panties in a bunch is the idea of me having sex with my partner. It disturbs them deeply (and the all the Freudian reasons for that are the topic for another blog post). Well then they should allow us get married! Talk to any straight couple who has been married several years and ask them the frequency of their sexual relations now as opposed to when they were single or first got married. Everyone knows that the sex life drops after several years of marriage. While I am not prepared to cite statistics here, I would bet un-partnered gay people have much more sex than a couple like me and my partner who have been together several years. Why then, gay marriage could be the conservative right's secret weapon in reducing gay sex from occurring (well that, and keeping at tighter leash on Republican congressmen).
What it all comes down to is this: you either believe the act of gay sex is right or wrong. You may base your belief on what your religion tells you, and I'll even defend your right to have that conviction. In the end though, someone's religious beliefs about my sex life shouldn't be allowed to discriminate against me on my tax return.
What do you think?