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Room for Squares
by Philip Wong on Nov 30, 2007
Social insecurities, we all have them. They run the gamut of anxieties from “Do I look fat?” to “Will he call me back?” But for all the time we spend worrying over the security of our romantic futures, no one ever really seems to worry about something that is much more fundamental to survival: our financial futures.
In rough terms, social security is a social welfare service put into place to ensure that we will each be taken care of when we can no longer care for ourselves. Whether you wish to define the parameters of that care as either emotional or financial is up to you, but one thing remains certain, there will come a time for each of us when we will no longer be able to pay our own ways. What happens to us then?
Ostensibly, that’s when social security would kick in. Because you’ve paid the taxes to secure the lives of elderly people today, future generations will be there to do the same for you. But what we’ve come to learn now is that this system has many flaws, and it is set to become a major issue during next year’s presidential election. When it’s been estimated that the well of social security will have run dry by the time our generation reaches retirement, it’s clear that something needs to be done.
However, that’s only one side of the story -- at least for us. Ever since the mid 20th century, the government has relied on marriage licenses to determine the distribution of resources to dependents. And since gay marriages are still largely illegal and unrecognized, the implications are clear. Without getting too technical here, let’s just look at what stands to be the case for those of us who will be directly affected by jurisdiction on both fronts. We can do this very easily by examining the way things stand to be inherited by us.
For our purposes, we will say that marriages -- at least the kind that required an official union of some sort -- we’re all based on some form of economic need. Marriages secured dowries that sometimes supported communities and families, and they even in some cases secured the fates of entire nations and kingdoms. To say that marriage is an issue with solely religious and familial implications is to ignore the fact that, in essence, it is a means of survival for much of the population.
Let’s fast forward a few hundred years and what do we have today? Very roughly (and on a very human level) we can say that we have couples who are denied visitation rights in hospitals during critical life junctures, and we have loved ones left with heavy burdens of both grief and finance. There is something to be learned from the fallout of the AIDS epidemic in the 80s and what little has been done to respond to the needs of both survivors and those longtime companions, who in white hot heat of youth and exuberance, were not fortunate enough to have had the foresight to plan ahead for when the flame would ultimately burn out.
So the issue stands as thus. How can you begin to secure the futures of millions of gay Americans without first securing their present statuses? The question of whether or not social security needs to be phased out or fixed is a hot topic, to be sure. But one more at the center of our survival is how our community will play and factor into that soon-to-be future. Will we be a confederate of loners, doomed to fend for our own wellbeing regardless of whom we spend our lives with, or will we be a community of couples, seen as equal to our straight brothers and sisters?
When Washington finally decides to take a long overdue look at how to fix the social security crisis for all Americans, they cannot overlook the needs of their LGBT citizens. If they don’t, then they’re not really fixing the problem -- at least not for us. Have you ever tried to tie an uneven shoelace, where one end is longer than the other? It just won’t work, no matter how many times you try. To solve the problem, those in power might try to separate Church from State when deciding our fates. That way, we can go back to worrying about what’s really important, like whether or not these jeans give me J.Lo’s ass.
by Philip Wong on Nov 30, 2007