Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Back Around

Hey everyone,

Throughout Amy's surgery and its aftermath, I lost the energy to blog. I have a few things to add, somewhat retroactively, so I'll be doing that in the next week or so.

Happy Summer!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Surgery Went Well!

Amy's surgery went well. She was back home a little over 48 hours after her procedure, which was suprising but seemed timely. I'm not gonna update much, but I will say that I am incredibly grateful for all the love, prayers, and support from everyone over the past few weeks!

For more info on Amy's surgery, visit amysbumpblog.blogspot.com

Monday, October 19, 2009

Clarification of our Domestic Partnership

Hello Everyone,

This post is just to clarify why we haven't told most people of our domestic partnership, and our plans for the future.

Amy and I got our domestic partnership certificate at Denver's municipal building on August 18, 2009. We also plan on getting married at some point in the next year or so but no date has been set and our engagement is not "official" at this time, even though our relationship holds the same values and commitment as a marriage.

In the state of Colorado, opposite-sex couples are considered married (common law) if they have been living with each other for a year and if they share finances. Same-sex couples are not afforded this benefit, and instead must register as domestic partners, which, in Colorado, has no legal standing other than to obtain benefits through an employer (along with extra taxes) if that employer offers same-sex domestic partner benefits.

After we had been living together for a year, and since we share finances, we considered trying to register for a common-law marriage, and realized it would be too stressful (and fruitless). We also realized that it was pointless to pay $25 to become official domestic partners when neither of us were in a position to put the other on our respective health insurances (Amy's employer did not offer same-sex partner benefits, and I wasn't a benefitted employee at the time). Therefore, we didn't take any action.

When I ended up getting moved into a permanent position at my current employer (that offers same-sex partner benefits), then we decided to go and obtain a domestic partnership certificate, because at this point we were in a position where it was actually needed. Thus, we became domestic partners.

At this point, it was the best thing we could have done. Since Amy lost her job (and would have lost her benefits had she not been under my insurance), she would not have been able to receive the testing needed to find the tumor on her head. Instead, she is so fortunate to have insurance and is able to have the procedure she needs to have to remove her tumor and repair her skull while only having to pay a copay.

So. Thank you all for your well wishes and congrats about our domestic partnership. When we're officially engaged, we'll let you know!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Good News

Amy has a job! It's not full time or anything, but we can breathe a little easier. Amy had a second job last holiday season and she is starting work back there tomorrow! And since her manager is awesome and actually treats her employees like human beings (instead of robots like they do at Dish Network), she'll most likely be really understanding and flexible with all the medical stuff that's coming up in the near future.

I said it before, and I'll say it again: Congratulations Amy!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Job Loss, Tumor, and Everything in Between...

This past week has been nothing short of overwhelming. On Saturday, Amy was given the choice of either being fired or resigning from her job at Dish Network. They refused to honor a doctor's note excusing her from two weeks of work (after she had already missed the two weeks of work), wanted her to make up the 92 hours of work she missed (40 hours/week of regular work plus 6 hours of weekly mandatory overtime), and all because she was one month shy of her year needed to be eligible for FMLA (since Dish doesn't give their employees sick time). She already knew Dish treated their employees horribly, but this was just unreal. And I'm panicking about paying the bills.

However, Amy losing her job was somewhat of a blessing in disguise. Since the job pretty much made her miserable, losing this job was the extra nudge she needed to be more motivated (and have the extra time) to find one at which she could thrive. Plus she now has more time to go to the doctor and such.

And go to the doctor she will. On Thursday, she found out that she has a tumor on her head. Here's the background in her own words. If you don't feel like clicking just yet, here's my watered-down version: about 2 and a half years ago Amy noticed a bump on the side of her head that was squishy. 2 chiropractors told her it was probably nothing to worry about - just a bruise or fat, but nothing to worry about. She's also told a few doctors about it, but they said it was nothing to worry about. When she switched to a new PCP, that PCP sent her to get a CT scan without contrast, which was this past Thursday. The tech came out afterward with that look and asked if Amy was willing to get one with contrast. That's never a good sign. The radiologist (and the tech I'm sure) saw something (duh?). Amy's doc called and left a message before we could get home, and said that it was a tumor, that it's probably benign (don't they always say that though?), and that she needed to talk to a neurologist.

SO. . . Wednesday we'll go to see the neurologist. Amy talked to her doc again, and she's definitely gonna have to have surgery to remove the 1" x 1" x 1.5" tumor. Seems like it's gonna be a long 3 days before we go see the neurologist. Blah.

In light of all this, I'm incredibly grateful for all the support from our friends and families we both have. I think the most shocking and comforting for me was the support from my manager at work. When I went in to tell her that this was all going on, she said to let her know if and when I needed to take off (for whole shifts or just an hour or so) for any appointments or procedures or anything, because "family is very important." I'm really grateful I have a manager who gets it and is flexible.

So...it's been a week. A long one. I'm scared, worried, thinking, avoiding temptation to look up Amy's images on the computers at work, thinking some more, etc. I'm also grateful that Amy could get on my insurance so she wouldn't have had to worry about that through this process. And I am tired.

If you want to follow Amy's blog on this process, go to http://amysbumpblog.blogspot.com.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Misinformed Public

I work with many people who are common-law married whose spouses are benefitted through our employer. And they do not have to pay extra taxes on their insurance premiums, period.

Most people don't realize this inequity, queer and straight alike. Before I enrolled in benefits, I asked the lesbian I work with if she had ever been on the same benefits as her partner and if the extra taxation was worth it. She had no idea that domestic partner benefits are taxed differently than opposite-sex spouse benefits. She was shocked.

When I talked the other day with a few common-law married co-workers, they had no idea that domestic partners are taxed differently than they are. They did think it was ridiculous, but one of them stated, "At least they actually cover same-sex partners."

As much as that statement pissed me off, this person did have a good point. Most employers use the excuse of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) to avoid having to dole out extra benefits to same-sex partners. But why settle? Sure, it's good to look for the silver lining in everything, but why must we continue to settle for extra taxes?

And why aren't the 912 crew protesting these extra taxes?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Taxation without Protestation

Today I got to see my first paycheck stub as a registered domestic partner, and I'm pretty annoyed. I'm grateful my domestic partner get on my health insurance, but I'm beginning to wonder if the costs are worth it.

In a single bi-weekly paycheck, I have to claim $196.77 as income that I will never see, and simply because Amy is not male. If she were male, we would be considered common law spouses and employer contributions to health/dental/vision plans would not be considered taxable income. But since Amy is not male, and we have to be domestically partnered instead of married, employer contributions to her health/dental/vision plans are added to my paycheck as taxable income that I will never see. $196.77. Per Paycheck. That's $196.77 x 24 paychecks annually, totaling $4,722.28 per year.

I'm no CPA, nor do I have any capabilities whatsoever to figure out how that adds up in terms of taxes paid, but I did look at old paychecks with similar gross pay (before the $196.77) and just can't believe how this might add up. The taxes I paid this paycheck are approximately twice that of what I paid on past paychecks with similar gross wages. That's approximately $60 extra per paycheck (approximately $1440 per year). $1,440 per year. Because Amy's a female. And if I happen to work multiple night shifts or pick up extra shifts, my gross pay will increase, leaving me even more vulnerable to extra taxation.

Somewhere factored into all this extra tax stuff is the lovely after-tax deductions that would be pre-tax deductions if Amy were male (and thank G-d she's not). Because we're not (and can't get) married, Amy's portions of the health/dental/vision premiums are considered post-tax deductions, which means an extra $33.09 per paycheck is considered taxable income, whereas if she were male, it would not be. That's an extra $794.16 a year of taxable income. According to my W-2's, I'ma be rich! If only my W-2's could pay the bills.

This is making me want to become a tea-bagger. But then again, I did domestically partner with a female for a reason... (To far? Yeah a bit so...but I couldn't help myself).

In all seriousness, I'm stunned at the hypocrisy of the tea-baggers. Why aren't they protesting this injustice? Why aren't they protesting the outrageous costs of war that our tax dollars fund? Why aren't they protesting the tax subsidies that corporations get for decimating local economies and polluting our water, land, and air? And I digress. But really--where is this in their discussion of extra tax burdens?

Yeah, I knew about the extra taxes going into this. And yeah, I'm grateful my employer will benefit my domestic partner. But I wanted to share with you all a tidbit of the reality of denying same-sex couples the rights to civil marriage. $1,440 a year.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Suburban Life?

Amy and I got ourselves a weed-whacker and a grill as our domestic-partnership-present to ourselves. And last night, we finally got to use the grill! Amy's Uncle Mike says this makes me an "official suburbanite," but I'm in denial. We don't have patio furniture yet anyways.

The weed-whacker was kind of a necessity to avoid getting fined for the massive mess our landlords left by our back fence in the alley. Hopefully we won't be getting anymore citations...

Monday, August 31, 2009

...or Actually a Qualifying Event

I just got off the phone with a woman from Amy's employer's HR department. Normally I don't take calls for Amy, but when I tried to take a message, the woman started telling me details and specifics so I ended up talking to her about the whole situation. And she was awesome.

Amy can get off the insurance at her employer. Apparently the man Amy talked to before didn't know that same-sex partnerships do qualify to get off insurance, as long as the employee is starting on another insurance.

Here's a few little paraphrased snippets of the conversation:
HR: "So this is her husband, right? Is he wanting to get on her insurance or is she wanting to get on his?"
Me: "Actually it's a domestic partnership. She's going to be starting on my employer's insurance tomorrow."
HR: "OK well she has 30 days from the date of the event."
Me: "Is the event the domestic partnership or the date of benefits starting?"
HR: "Is this a common law or same-sex partnership?"
Me: "Same-Sex."
HR: "Hmmm. That's a really good question. Since federal law does not recognize same-sex partnerships and unfortunately we follow federal law, I believe it's the date of the start of the new benefits."

The whole conversation was awesome, the woman was friendly, informative, admitted when she didn't know an answer to something (and found the answer), and even said, "Tell her congratulations!"

Congratulations Amy!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Non-Qualifying Event?

As I was leaving work today, I checked my text messages and saw this:
"So getting domestic partnered doesn't count as a qualifying event for me for health insurance. WTF."

When I got home, Amy was upset. She called the HR department at work so she could get off her crappy insurance (since she was getting on mine), and apparently he was a jerk. When she told him she needed to make a change because of a domestic partnership, he told her she couldn't, because, "It has to be a legal marriage." Yeah, he emphasized the legal. And Amy was hurt. She didn't know what to say, so she got off the phone. She's planning on calling back on Monday.

I don't know what to say about this. I hope that this can get resolved, because paying for 2 insurances doesn't make sense, especially since Amy's insurance through her employer costs twice as much per pay-period and has less coverage than mine.

Looking forward to Monday, when Amy calls them back and is more prepared to take on the man.