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Saturday, December 03, 2022
The independent student publication of The Unversity at Buffalo, since 1950

Just a Piece of Paper?

I've heard a million and one reasons not to get married:

"I am unwilling to make a commitment."

"I'm a hard-core feminist who considers marriage dogmatic."

"I think marriage is simply an institution to serve the interests of the patriarchy."

"I have a terminal illness."

"I'm broke."

"Marriage is just a piece of paper."

Well, that piece of paper comes with a lot of perks.

Currently, spouses of federal employees are entitled to a number of benefits, including, but not limited to, life and health insurance, retirement pay and compensation for on-the-job injuries. But recently, according to a March 31 Associated Press article, Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) and democratic presidential hopeful, proposed a legislation that would make homosexual couples and heterosexual domestic partners entitled to these same benefits.

The legislation proposal comes on the heels of Vermont Gov. Howard Dean - another contender for the Democratic Party presidential nomination - signing a civil union bill allowing homosexual couples to receive all the rights and benefits entitled to married couples under state law.

In the past, members of Lieberman's own party have accused him of not being liberal enough. Aside from being blatant pandering to those left from center, the bill is unfeasible, unethical and a waste of tax dollars that should be put into areas in bad shape, such as education and social programming.

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Under Lieberman's proposal, all people would have to do is sign an affidavit saying they are "living together in a committed, intimate relationship but are not married." So as long as you have a really close friend who is a federal employee and feels bad that you have to pay out pocket for a doctor, you can move in together, sign an affidavit, and voila! Health care and insurance!

What a nice piece of paper!

In no way has Lieberman detailed what the government will recognize as a "committed, intimate relationship." After all, some couples are "swingers," while others, such as by-the-book Catholics, choose to remain celibate because they want to prevent pregnancy and won't visit the naughty isle of the drug store.

Most of all, Lieberman does not propose how fraud could be prevented. The only possible option would be to require the couple to prove they have been living together for a predetermined span of time before being entitled to federal benefits.

Regardless of one's personal or religious beliefs, marriage is the ultimate commitment two people can make to one another because, in the worst case scenario, spouses can get divorced and incur legal fees, alimony and vicious custody battles. If one spouse gets into a heaping pit of debt then dies, in many cases, the other is required by law to assume responsibility for the debt.

Marriage comes with a host of legal and financial bonuses. If couples - both heterosexual and homosexual - are unwilling to take on the possible burdens that come from saying "I do" and signing that apparently heavy piece of paper, they do not have a right to access the benefits for which taxpayers are fitting the bill.

Homosexuals are not legally allowed to marry in the United States, but whether people are willing to recognize the presence of homosexuals in society, they do exist and they do have long-term relationships. Instead of merely throwing homosexuals a bone - while avoiding backlash from the "moral right" - Lieberman ought to enact some social change by pushing for legislation that would give homosexuals the option of legal, recognized commitment wherein they receive the same protections and access to services as heterosexual, married couples do now.

That would be a piece of paper I could live with.



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