Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Domestic Partnership - Day 1 Reflections

Looking back at today, I find it really hard to not be cynical about the process of getting and being domestically partnered. To begin with, even the officers at the Civic building thought the domestic partner/marriage disparity was a little silly. When we got to the Clerk and Recorder's office, we had to go to a separate window than the marriage certificates, and the marriage certificates had a counter that was at least twice as long as the Clerk and Recorder window. We were in an out in less than 20 minutes, yet the couple that was at the marriage counter when we arrived was still there when we left. We only had to answer one question, where married couples had to fill out an application (and who knows what else).

One thing that really gets me is the blatant and open discrimination in this entire process. On the City of Denver's Clerk and Recorder's website on Domestic Partners, it states: "
What Registration Does: Registration of your committed partnership creates a public record of your relationship. Based on your attestation, it proves that you have met the requirements for committed partnership defined by ordinance that an employer or other party may or may not choose to recognize in offering domestic partnership benefits. What Registration Does Not Do: Registering as committed partners does not constitute marriage under the laws of the State of Colorado nor change your legal rights with your partner. Registration does not affect your property, contract, inheritance, custody, or benefit rights nor any other legal entitlements. It does not provide for name changes. To provide for such rights domestic partners may need to execute medical and/or general powers of attorney, wills, and/or other legal instruments, just as though there were no partnership. Consult your attorney." On the "Certificate of Committed Partnership," it states, "...we understand a committed partnership is not a marriage...".

Between the separate and unequal windows, forms, and language, I really felt today that the City of Denver and the State of Colorado was saying, "Hey, we'll recognize your relationship, but it's not worthy of having the same legal benefits as your opposite-sex coupled peers." And what's worse, we had to sign a legal document agreeing with this.

Don't get me wrong. I am grateful we got the opportunity to domestically partner. I am greatful I have an employer that offers same-sex domestic partner benefits. I am grateful that I live in a time where our relationship does not have to be completely hidden (unless we're around conservative relatives, in small towns, or in various other not-safe-for-queers social situations). I am grateful that I had a supportive environment that allowed me to come out at such a young age compared to the generation before mine. But separate is not equal. Separate windows, separate certificates, separate paychecks with separate taxation, separate separate separate is still not equal.

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