April 1, 2005May 22, 2005Meeting Report

April 17, 2005

Margaret Wilcox

Equality in Marriage

Margaret WilcoxMargaret Wilcox is a member of the UUSS Welcoming Congregation Committee and the mother of a lesbian daughter. She is also active in the Marriage Equality Task Force of the Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry.

Following an introduction by HAGSA Board member, Joy Fisher, Margaret opened what turned out to be a very informative meeting with a showing of "I Can’t Marry You," a one-hour documentary about same-sex marriage narrated by Betty DeGeneres, the mother of comedian and talk show host, Ellen DeGeneres.

The documentary explored the real life stories of twenty long-term (10-55 years) gay and lesbian couples and reveals the obstacles they encounter because they cannot marry in the United States. Included were pertinent facts and information from specialists on this issue, such as renowned civil rights attorney Evan Wolfson of the Freedom to Marry Organization.

Although gay marriage has become legal in Massachusetts and civil unions or domestic partnerships are legal in several states including California, there are plenty of legal problems for gay Americans, especially with federal law. If one partner dies there are no Social Security benefits for the survivor. The survivor cannot inherit property from the other unless a will so stipulates. Gay and lesbian couples cannot file joint income tax returns. There are often no visitation rights in hospitals. In many states gay couples cannot legally adopt children.

Margaret provided a multi-page handout on the subject, including a fact sheet on Assembly Bill 19, the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act, authored by Mark Leno and Fabian Nuņez. This would end legal discrimination against same-sex couples seeking marriage licenses in California. It would not require any member of the clergy to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies. Margaret admitted that passage is uncertain, especially since the voters of California approved Proposition 22 a few years ago.

As part of the ensuing dialogue, Joy Fisher related her own personal story.

Report prepared by Wayne Luney, Recorder,
with additional material from the
original meeting announcement.

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