Gordon Smith Stands Up For LGBT Population in Asheville

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While we’re working towards marriage equality for same-sex couples who want the same rights as their heterosexual equals, the City of Asheville can take a step toward social justice by offering same-sex health benefits to its employees.

City employees are currently empowered to include their spouses on their health plans and can take bereavement leave in the case of a spouse’s death. Same-sex couples, even if legally married in another state, are not eligible.

The gay and lesbian citizens of Asheville deserve equal recognition and equal benefits. To deny these benefits is to relegate gay and lesbian couples to second-class status. We all know that Asheville is a gay-friendly city, and our city government ought to reflect our commitment to honoring the civil rights of all our citizens.

Cities across America have included domestic partnership benefits in their health plans, and many have gone a step further to require that contractors provide domestic partner benefits as well. Given Asheville’s vibrant gay and lesbian culture, recognizing their committed relationships is the only just way forward.

What is the definition of a domestic partner?

- Have lived together at least six months.
- Are both age 18 or older.
- Share a close personal relationship and are responsible for each other’s common welfare.
- Are exclusive.
- Are not married to anyone else.
- Are not related by blood closer than would bar marriage in the state.
- Share the same regular and permanent residence, with the current intent to continue doing so indefinitely.
- Are jointly financially responsible for “basic living expenses,” defined as the cost of basic food, shelter and any other expenses of a domestic partner because of the domestic partnership. (Domestic partners need not contribute equally or jointly to the cost of these expenses as long as they agree that both are responsible for the cost.)
- Were mentally competent to consent to the contract when the domestic partnership began.

If elected to City Council, I will be a strong advocate for domestic partner benefits. Social justice benefits everyone, and the current inequity is a stain on Asheville’s social justice aspirations.

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Comments

This may be taken wrong

Let me start this by saying that I am totally in favor of same sex "partners" having exactly the same benefits in ALL venues in the U.S. as "married", heterosexual couples. One thing that is left out of your presentation is any kind of "legal" binding between same sex partners. Now, if we were to say that any two people, man and woman or man and man or woman and woman that didn't have some kind of LEGAL bond or legitimate paperwork making them a "couple" having benefits in any kind of situation, we would be opening up a can of worms. I think there has to be some kind of "legal" binding between ANY two people in order to give the kind of benefits that are being presented here.

Again, I couldn't care less if it is between any two sexual partnerships. It just should be some kind of legal, binding partnership.

If I missed that in your presentation here, I apologize up front.

The definition outlined by Gordon would be Asheville's legalese

I presume the portion under his "What is the definition...?" is intended to define a domestic partnership in Asheville.

Such definitions are common in states and municipalities that have domestic partner registries (as opposed to civil marriage equality).

It appears to me that Gordon is proposing such a definition for Asheville.

Of course, if this defining of half-measures is too uncomfortable, just end marriage discrimination, and we won't have to worry about defining benefit contracts in municipalities.

 

Agreed, usernamehere

Yes, much of what Gordon is presenting is part of many states. I think a lot of it came directly from what California does. I am presenting what Wikipedia has to offer here on what California says about same sex marriage. It is important to notice that there are "legal" requirements.

In most states, there is some legal requirements with required to "marriage", even for heteros. Not too much to ask, in my opinion.

Domestic partnership in California
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
"A California domestic partnership is a legal relationship available to same-sex couples, and to certain opposite-sex couples.

Scope

As of 2007, California affords domestic partnerships most of the same rights and responsibilities as marriages under state law (Cal. Fam. Code §297.5). Among these:

Making health care decisions for each other in certain circumstances
Hospital and jail visitation rights that were previously reserved for family members related by blood, adoption or marriage to the sick, injured or incarcerated person.
Access to family health insurance plans (Cal. Ins. Code §10121.7)
Spousal insurance policies (auto, life, homeowners etc..), this applies to all forms of insurance through the California Insurance Equality Act (Cal. Ins. Code §381.5)
Sick care and similar family leave
Stepparent adoption procedures
Presumption that both members of the partnership are the parents of a child born into the partnership
Suing for wrongful death of a domestic partner
Rights involving wills, intestate succession, conservatorships and trusts
The same property tax provisions otherwise available only to married couples (Cal. R&T Code §62p)
Access to some survivor pension benefits
Supervision of the Superior Court of California over dissolution and nullity proceedings
The obligation to file state tax returns as a married couple (260k) commencing with the 2007 tax year (Cal R&T Code §18521d)
The right for either partner to take the other partner's surname after registration
Community property rights and responsibilities previously only available to married spouses
The right to request partner support (alimony) upon dissolution of the partnership (divorce)
The same parental rights and responsibilities granted to and imposed upon spouses in a marriage

Differences from Marriage
While domestic partners receive most of the benefits of marriage, several differences remain. These differences include, in part:

Couples seeking domestic partnership must have a common residence; this is not a a requirement for marriage license applicants.
Couples seeking domestic partnership must be 18 or older; minors can be married before the age of 18 with the consent of their parents.
California permits married couples the option of confidential marriage, there is no equivalent institution for domestic partnerships. In confidential marriages, no witnesses are required and the marriage license is not a matter of public record.
Married partners of state employees are eligible for the CalPERS long-term care insurance plan; domestic partners are not.
There is, at least according to one appellate ruling, no equivalent of the Putative Spouse Doctrine for domestic partnerships. [3]
In addition to these differences specific to state law, should the Defense of Marriage Act be found unconstitutional or repealed, married persons in California might enjoy all the federal benefits of marriage, including Constitutionally-required recognition of their relationships as marriages in the rest of the United States under the Full Faith and Credit Clause. [4][dubious – discuss]

In addition to these differences specific to the United States, some countries that recognize same-sex marriages performed in California as valid in their own country, (e.g., Israel [5]), do not recognize same-sex domestic partnerships performed in California.

Many supporters of same-sex marriage also argue that the use of the word marriage itself constitutes a significant social difference,[citation needed] and in the majority opinion of In Re Marriage Cases, the California Supreme Court agreed, [4] suggesting an analogy with a hypothetical that branded interracial marriages "transracial unions".

[edit] Eligibility
Currently, a couple that wishes to register must meet the following requirements:

Both persons have a common residence.
Neither person is married to someone else or is a member of another domestic partnership with someone else that has not been terminated, dissolved, or adjudged a nullity.
The two persons are not related by blood in a way that would prevent them from being married to each other in California.
Both persons are at least 18 years of age.
Either of the following:
Both persons are members of the same sex.
The partners are of the opposite sex, one or both of whom is above the age of 62, and one or both of whom meet specified eligibility requirements under the Social Security Act.
Both persons are capable of consenting to the domestic partnership.

Example of California domestic partnership certificate.
Also, a legal union of a same-sex couple, other than marriage, validly performed in another jurisdiction, that is substantially equivalent to a California domestic partnership, will be recognized as such in California. Civil unions, such as those performed in Vermont, Connecticut, and New Jersey, would most likely qualify as domestic partnerships in California. A valid same-sex marriage performed in a jurisdiction that recognizes such unions, such as Massachusetts, would not be recognized in California as either a marriage or a domestic partnership. This is because California statute prohibits recognition of another jurisdiction's validly performed same-sex marriage".

I'm not sure what more a candidate in Gordon's situation can do

It seems to me he's proposing expanded benefits for city employees and requirements for vendors the city does business with.

His definition is suitable for such a purpose.

I'd like more, but as a city/town leader there's not much more he could do.

What more would you add to Gordon's proposed defining requirements for domestic partner benefits?

 

Good question but I've got no clue

I am no politician and I certainly am not a strategist. This is a very tough issue for many Americans/North Carolinians. In our state, it may very well rival abortion in that respect.

If there can be some kind of legal means here to make same-sex partnerships equilivant to "marriage", then that may sit well in our state. I know first hand the fierce rejection a great many here have for the definition of the word "marriage", so this, currently, would only take away from securing some kind of equality for same-sex couples.

Other than that, I'm at a loss to answer your question.

Thanks for the comments

Yes, this is as far as we can legally go as a municipality. We all need to continue fighting for marriage equality, but until we're there then this kind of measure is what we can do to shrink the inequity between our gay and straight citizens.

Scrutiny Hooligans - http://www.scrutinyhooligans.us

I, too,

Wish you were running in my town.

>edit

Boku no otto wa totemo aishite

As a married gay NC resident

I appreciate this effort, even if I don;t live in Asheville.

Another pro-lgbt marriage equality step that some NC towns & cities have taken is having their councils vote in favor of Marriage Equality resolutions as has been the case in Carrboro, Chapel Hill, and Durham. Has Asheville done anything similar. If not, would you be willing to spearhead such an effort? I realize towns can't trump state marriage law, but the change in attitude and culture has to start somewhere, and it is a very welcoming gesture to do so.