Today’s letter – outing people isn’t nice, yet our government does it all the time

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

A new documentary about closeted gay politicians put the issue of “outing” on the front burner. The LA Times’ James Rainey accelerated this by talking about his 1993 outing of City Council Candidate Jackie Goldberg against the desire of her then-partner and then 8-year-old son.

Journalists generally follow a protocol of not revealing somebody’s sexual orientation without their explicit permission, since outing somebody is just too potentially damaging to them and their families.

It is nice that journalists respect this privacy, but why doesn’t our government? As long as we have two – or three – different legal statuses describing relationships in this state, it is impossible for me to be “in the closet.” My car license outs me. Filing taxes outs me. My kids’ vaccination forms out me. As long as our State forms use the terms “married” and “domestic partner” – or “husband/wife” as on EDD forms DE1 (Registration Form for Commercial Employers) and DE1-HW (Registration Form for Employers of Household Workers) STILL do – I am automatically outed whenever I fill out a government form.

The only solution is to have one set of laws describing relationships in this state. I don’t care if it is “married” or “domestic partners” but a house divided cannot stand.

Governor, I wish you would apologize for vetoing AB 43, the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act that would have legalized gay marriage through the legislature. I wish you would stand with fair-minded Californians against the government meddling in personal decisions. I wish you would make the GOP get rid of Michael Steele so Republicans can be electable again.


Today’s letter – I expect our government to follow the law

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

I discovered something terrible. Our own state Economic Development Department (EDD) has an entire tax unit and legal status called “HUS/WIFE.” The California Business and Professions Code Section 17913 (b) (4) even seems to authorize this, listing options describing the nature of the business as

(i) “an individual,”
(ii) “a general partnership,”
(iii) “a limited partnership,”
(iv) “a limited liability company,”
(v) “an unincorporated association other than a partnership,”
(vi) “a corporation,”
(vii) “a trust,”
(viii) “copartners,”
(ix) “husband and wife,”
(x) “joint venture,”
(xi) “state or local registered domestic
partners,” or
(xii) “a limited liability partnership.”

I don’t know why our EDD doesn’t just use the term “married couple” instead of “husband and wife.” Article 1 Section 8 of our State Constitution says “A person may not be disqualified from entering or pursuing a business, profession, vocation, or employment because of sex, race, creed, color, or national or ethnic origin.” Our 2005 Domestic Partnership legislation ordered this gender specific language to be changed, and it seems as though our State Supreme Court agrees.

The EDD ought to defer to the Family Code for the definition of marriage instead of making up their own. The EDD expects me to follow the law; I expect no less from the EDD.


Today’s letter – still slighted on government forms

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

I still need your help again to fix the language on California EDD Form DE1-HW. I wrote to you in July 2007 complaining about the checkbox for HUS/WIFE. As members of a California Registered Domestic Partnership trying to hire a nanny, we were quite alienated by this clear state preference for man-on-woman marriages in contrast to the letter and intent of the law that you signed in 2000 authorizing our partnership (and our Constitutional bans on discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation.)

At the time you referred us to Mr. Robert Affleck, Deputy Director, Tax Branch, who referred us to Mr. Stan Adge, Tax Administrator, Taxpayer Advocate’s Office. Through ensuing conversations with Mr. Adge, he made it clear that this issue would be considered for the “next revision of the form.” Then he left the department, Ms. Leslie Weiss took over his job, and Ms. Michelle Mosley took over the mantle to fix this form.

According to verbal conversations with Ms. Mosley, “the form has been revised” and is “awaiting internal review” before being released to the Web site. But I have been unable to secure written confirmation if and when this will happen, and nobody in my community has had an opportunity to review the revised form to see if it complies with our need for equal treatment under the law.

Above all, this slow response and obscured process has made me feel as though this critical change to comply with an eight-year-old law is not a priority within EDD as it is within our community. I fear that the process has been derailed, the outcome will further alienate my family, and the result will please no one. This should be an emergency change to comply with state law, not a “suggestion” to be “considered with the next revision.”

Would you “work your magic” to get EDD to take this seriously? I don’t have anybody else to turn to to make sure that as long as lesbian and gay couples are being treated separately in California, they are at least treated equally.


Today’s letter – Changing Forms Costs Money so Reap what you Sow

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger,

I wrote to you in July to ask for your help in getting the EDD to change form DE1 to reference Domestic Partnerships on par with HUS/WIFE, and you were able to steer us to the right place to get that change rolling. It hasn’t happened yet, but it will. Thank you.

Today I am attaching a communication that I have started with the State Controller’s Office and the Los Angeles Treasurer and Tax Collector asking for accommodation of my same-sex domestic partnership on the cover letter for the form for “Excess Proceeds from Sale of Tax Defaulted Property.” This is just one example of the scores of forms that offensively violate the constitutional ban on discrimination based on gender or sexual orientation. I need your help to make sure that the form gets fixed.

The letter should be revised to read “This includes California Registered Domestic Partners, husbands, wives and all joint tenants.”

At a time when you are trying to cut state agency’s budgets by 10% it seems to me that extending the freedom to marry to all committed couples would have been the fiscally conservative thing to do. But until I can get married, I would like to ask you to ask the State Controller to change these forms to conform with the Constitution and the need all of us has to have my government respect my basic dignity.

Thank you for your help,