Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –
On this Labor Day, I want to share a story of success for California’s Domestic Partnerships.
You might have heard of Longshore union worker William Swenor, who had died suddenly in March 2005, leaving his partner of 51 years, Marvin Burrows, unable to claim his partner’s pension because their contracts only acknowledge ‘married spouses.’
After two years of talks, the Industrial Employers and Distributors Association and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 6 was persuaded to renegotiate its contract to provide registered domestic partners with the same pension benefits as spouses. They made the change retroactive because “it was the right thing to do.”
Not everybody is as brave Mr. Burrows, who spoke up for his rights in an environment often toxic to gay people; not everybody is resourceful enough to get the National Center for Lesbian Rights to represent them; not every organization is as fair-minded as the ILWU.
That is why California needs AB 43, the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act, so all California couples will have the same freedom to choose the stability and security of marriage.
The alternative, as Mr. Burrows discovered, is to get your employer to recognize your ‘domestic partnership’ as the equivalent of marriage, which, in this labor of love, was finally the case.