Maine House to Vote on Equality

We have a unique opportunity: Today, the Maine House of Representatives is slated to vote on marriage equality. The issue, of course, is of massive importance to equality seekers there, as the AP explains:

For GLBT people in the Pine Tree State, a life saddled by legal inequality is “unbearable.”

Diane Sammer and her partner, Pam Dennis, were careful to sign papers giving Sammer power of attorney over Dennis’ affairs. Yet after Dennis died of a heart attack and her body was to be cremated, the undertaker refused to accept Sammer’s signature.

After some legal wrangling, Sammer signed a document to free the undertaker of any potential legal liability for taking away the remains of the woman with whom she had lived for 28 years.

“It was humiliating and just made an unbearable situation that much more so,” said Sammer, who’s from the coastal Maine town of Harpswell. …

While Maine law has evolved to treat male and female spouses equally, there are distinctions in key areas of wills and probate between married couples and same-sex couples, according to a memorandum by family law attorney Michael Levey.

In traditional marriages, for example, a portion of the deceased’s estate goes to the surviving spouse if there’s no will. Even if the will excludes the surviving spouse, he or she is still entitled to about a third of the estate. Neither provision applies to same-sex couples.

Surviving spouses are protected from creditors. Maine law also requires spouses to support each other when in need, and a partner who fails to do so can face a court order. This doesn’t apply to same-sex couples. …

_When a worker suffers a job-related death, workers’ compensation law says the surviving spouse shall receive 80 percent of the employee’s average weekly wage for nearly 10 years. That provision doesn’t apply to same-sex couples.

_State law says a spouse is considered appropriate to be a guardian for a disabled person, but same-sex partners have no such priority to appointment.

_State laws treat gay and straight couples who have children differently. For same-sex couples, there’s no assumption that the couple’s child is theirs.

Does this make you as sick as it makes me? This disparity should not be in the so-called Land of the Free. Would Jesus approve of the way his gay and lesbian children — and their children — are treated under state law? Which makes it all the more cool that, thanks to techonology, we can watch the proceedings and see the vote. Enjoy, and hopefully, you will see history made and justice finally won.

 

View the proceedings here — the debate is under way as of 10:30 a.m.

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