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Posts Tagged ‘Gay Equality’

Taking a Lesson from Down Under

December 5th, 2011

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This piece was originally posted by The Advocate.

It’s time.

That’s the tagline for the new marriage ad circulating like wildfire across multiple continents. Created by the progressive Australian group Get Up! as that country debates allowing gay couples to marry, the two-minute video tells the story of a relationship through the eyes of one of the participants. It depicts the initial meeting and romance, the arguments and everyday annoyances, the joyful times and the depths of grief, all culminating in a man getting down on one knee and proposing in front of the couple’s friends and family. The person behind the camera is finally revealed, and the viewer sees that it is another man, just as the two are being enveloped in congratulatory hugs on their engagement.

So why has this ad captured the hearts and Facebook statuses of so many marriage advocates and allies in the U.S., and could it be part of a strategy to move marriage forward in our own country? Third Way’s extensive research on how Middle Americans view the issue of marriage for gay couples — and how to move them to solidly support it — points to three reasons that a similar ad may be effective with the middle stateside. Read the rest of this entry »

We Should Make Marriage About Commitment

November 9th, 2011

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This piece was originally published by The Advocate.

Next April, as the cherry blossoms are flowering across the city, I will stand in front of my family and friends and make a public promise of lifetime fidelity and commitment to my partner of five years. We want to take part in the tradition of marriage because we take its vows seriously and hope that the closest people in our lives will both hold us accountable to those words and support us in our relationship as life doles out the “for better or worse.”

But if you ask people who are still struggling with whether they support allowing gay couples to marry, they are just as likely to believe that I want to marry in order to get “rights and benefits like tax advantages, hospital visitation, or sharing a spouse’s pension,” rather than to publicly acknowledge lifetime commitment. Why? Because that’s what many in the movement have been telling them for so many years—and they listened.

After conducting extensive research on Americans in the middle, Third Way believes that correcting this misperception is the number one thing we can do to solidify support for marriage across the country. And a vital part of that effort must come in shifting our own advocacy from the language of rights to the language of commitment. Read the rest of this entry »

A Full Circle on Marriage

September 21st, 2011

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In the fall of 1996, social conservatives in Washington, DC, pushed and passed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a law that defined marriage as a union between one man and one woman under federal law. It was signed—15 years ago this week—by a Democratic President who was considered the most gay-friendly in history. And its passage was meant to end the debate on marriage for gay couples once and for all. A decade and a half later, gay couples in six states and DC can marry, and more than a dozen other states provide civil unions or some other form of recognition for their relationships. What explains this fundamental shift?

First, public opinion has swung rapidly and remarkably in favor of gay couples. Support for allowing gay couples to marry has doubled since 1996, from 27 percent to 53 percent. This reflects a greater warming of Americans toward their gay and lesbian neighbors. Only 42 percent said they personally knew a gay person when DOMA passed, compared to 77 percent today. And in this case, familiarity did not breed contempt. Today, fully two-thirds of the country would use the word “family” to describe a gay couple with a child—in the DOMA days it was just 29 percent. Read the rest of this entry »

Eliminating the Tax Penalty on Gay-Friendly Businesses

September 12th, 2011

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Our corporate tax code dates back to 1986, before the internet and when China was “red.” It is hopelessly out of date with the goings on of the rest of the world, but there is one area where it is completely antiquated with changes in America: dealing with employee benefits for gay couples.

There are nearly one million gay couples living in the United States, according to the Census Bureau. Today, jurisdictions allowing gay couples to either marry or form legal unions are now home to about 150 million people—up from less than 15 million people fifteen years ago. And two-thirds of Fortune 1000 companies provide benefits like health care to gay couples. But if companies provide these benefits under the same tax formulation as they would for straight married couples, they are in violation of the law—and so are their employees.

Here’s the problem. While employer-provided health care is treated as a tax-free benefit for everyone else, the IRS counts it as taxable income for gay domestic partners and spouses. That means businesses like Target, IBM, and Nabisco who provide coverage to partners of their gay employees must go back and add “imputed income” to their employees’ pay stubs for the cost of that benefit. Read the rest of this entry »

Then & Now: How the State of Relationship Recognition Has Changed Since DOMA

August 4th, 2011

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This piece was originally posted on The Huffington Post.

As gay couples begin to marry in New York, Third Way’s newest report details the seismic shift in our country since the passage of DOMA 15 years ago. There are many striking contrasts that illustrate this evolution, but one incredible change is this: in 1996 only 5% of the country lived in a state or locality that recognized gay couples’ relationships–now 46% do. Read the rest of this entry »

Grandma Knows Best

February 5th, 2010

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This piece was originally posted on the Huffington Post.

An elderly woman sits with her grandson.  She begins to tell the story of her family and her Catholic faith. She talks about her core values and says, “Marriage to me is a great institution. It works, and it’s what I want for my children, too.”

Read the rest of this entry »