Thursday, May 14, 2015

Employers start saying same-sex couples who can marry must do so in order to continue spousal benefits

Some employers have told associates with same-sex partners on corporate health plans that they must wed in order to keep benefits, if they live in states where same-sex marriage has become legal (37 of them now).  That’s the gist of a front page Wall Street Journal article by Rachel Emmo Silverman, here.  A good question occurs if the marriage occurred in another state but the employer’s state has been forced to recognize it, or if the employee lives in a different state from where he or she works.  Delta and Verizon were mentioned.  In some cases, employers are dropping spousal coverage for spouses who could get coverage elsewhere.
I’ve started reading the book “The Great Divide” by William Gairdner, and I peeked (or "sneak-previewed") at his chapter on “Homosexuality and Gay Marriage” and his comparison chart on the “Modern Liberal View” against the “Conservative View”.   In general, he spends a lot more space on the “conservative” position but he claims to be writing in subjunctive mood. One problem is conflating “homophobia” with opposition to gay marriage per se.  It’s one thing to want to be left alone by the state, and by your employer, parents, and others when you’re an adult.  It’s another to demand the “privilege” of benefits in marriage.  But these issues come together. If you don’t have equal rights, sometimes you wind up being expected to make sacrifices for others who are more privileged.  Arguments against gay marriage do have a lot to do with willingness to accept the risks and responsibilities of procreation (as well as some men wanting some primacy for penetrative intercourse itself).  But it’s no longer a two-sided argument. Commitment in gay marriage still involves giving up adolescent fantasies and staying with a partner when hardships or challenges – even to sexual attractiveness – inevitably arrive. Gairdner also makes an interesting claim that all "sex" really involves the potential for reproduction, and that homosexuality is really just "homosensuality" (still the same thing to the human brain) and he rehearses the usual conservative arguments against depending on immutability.  He also poohs the "altruism" argument, which would seem to neglect the growing issue with eldercare.  

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