Every year, I intend to participate in Blogging for LGBT Families Day, and every year, I forget. This year, I remembered one day late, so I’m counting this as good enough and going with it.
Now, Angela and I are a bit stumped about what we have to blog about LGBT families here at Carfree with Kids. Most of our readership, as near as we can tell, are biking and transit-riding parents, or parents who aspire to a less car-dependent life, and of course that includes some queers, but we generally assume most of you are straight.
I suppose that makes it even more important for us to take a day to say, “Oh yeah, and remember we’re queer, too.” Also, since most of you are probably straight, we’ll take this as an opportunity for a bit of a public service announcement, and answer some questions you might or might not have about our family:
Q: You use the word “wife” sometimes, are you really married?
We were legally married in 2004, just after it became law here. It’s actually a very sweet story, because we’d already been planning our wedding (a religious ceremony) for many months when the ruling came down that winter that same-sex marriages would be legal in May of 2004. We’d already booked the bowling alley and the rabbi for May 23rd so we were totally set (yes, the bowling alley, we got married at the now defunct Milky Way Lounge and Lanes in JP). As it turned out, ours was the first wedding license our rabbi ever signed, as she’s been refusing to sign for all couples out of protest. It was quite an honor, and the wedding was fabulous (I highly recommend a bowling wedding).
Even though we’re married in MA, we don’t enjoy most of the rights that straight couples do, because our marriage is not recognized federally due to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA, you can thank Bill Clinton for that one). This makes our life complicated in many ways. Though we were both on both of our kids birth certificates from the very beginning (because states grant marriage licenses and birth certificates and recognized both of us as parents from the get-go), we still had to “adopt” our kids in order to both be guaranteed parental rights in other states. Our taxes are a nightmare (see below). And we also sometimes wish we could live in more than a few select states (same-sex marriages are also granted in Iowa, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont and Washington DC) and still feel like we had reasonable protections for our family (yes, I know there are queers making it work everywhere, but once you’ve had marriage, it’s really hard to go back). We have to travel with a giant stack of legal papers so that if something happens when we’re traveling we’ll be able to do things like make medical decisions for each other. There’s more, but that’s what I’ve got off the top of my head.
Q: How did you get your kids?
Like lots of kids in two-mom families, our kids were conceived via donor insemination using frozen sperm from a bank. There weren’t really any fancy medical procedures involved. Angela gave birth to H, and I gave birth to R about 3 years later.
Q: Sometimes I hear people make jokes about a “Gay Tax.” Is there really a Gay Tax?
Not really, but our taxes are insanely confusing, and there are some places where we pay (much) more, and some places where we pay less. For us, net, it probably comes out about the same, but many families pay much more in taxes due to being gay. That doesn’t count future monetary losses due to being gay, like that we can’t collect social security after the other dies. For more details on how the money plays out, see this New York Times article. Right now, the biggest and most annoying extra tax we pay is with health insurance. I am insured through Angela’s employer, but because our marriage isn’t recognized federally, we have to pay taxes on the amount Angela’s employer pays for my health insurance. There are all sorts of confusing vagaries about how this amount is calculated, and as near as we can tell, it inevitably involves way too many fruitless conversations with HR, and no matter what, it’s always a surprisingly big chunk of change. We also have to prepare about a million tax returns (OK, actually 4 — instead of two).
Q: Which is weirder, being a carfree family or a queer family?
We know many more queer families (mostly two-mom) than we know carfree families (and not for lack of trying), so according to the entirely non-random sample of people we know, it’s much weirder to be carfree.
Do you have a question we didn’t cover? Feel free to ask in comments. We might or might not answer.