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Will marry for health insurance
February 19, 2010 10:20 AM   Subscribe

Will marry for health insurance. "They're not going to pass health-care reform, so what are my options? Friends and I were joking, and one friend said,'Well, you could always marry some guy who has a good policy.' And I thought, You know what. That's crazy. That's unbelievable, but it's my only option."

Other tales from the insurance mess in the USA.
posted by velvet winter (179 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
I had something snarky to say and then I realized you could marry for a lot worse things.

To health and happiness *clink*
posted by Lacking Subtlety at 10:28 AM on February 19, 2010 [10 favorites]


Marrying out of a need to secure one's financial well-being is neither crazy nor unbelievable. It is one of the most historically common reasons to marry, and in my opinion, it's still one of the best.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 10:29 AM on February 19, 2010 [14 favorites]


Related, from AskMe.
posted by rtha at 10:29 AM on February 19, 2010


What if it was a 22 year old woman marrying a 40 year old man to secure her financial well being? WHO DO WE HATE THEN???
posted by spicynuts at 10:30 AM on February 19, 2010 [22 favorites]


Ah, the USA: where the disprivileged who lack health care can make up for it by being among the privileged who are allowed to marry.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 10:31 AM on February 19, 2010 [90 favorites]


There are only 535 people with good policies and most of them are already married. You could get a position as an adulterer, but those probably aren't covered.
posted by DU at 10:32 AM on February 19, 2010 [7 favorites]


WHO DO WE HATE THEN???

Insurance companies, lobbyists, Congress--you know, the usual.
posted by box at 10:32 AM on February 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


I am married now because four years ago (give or take) Mrs. Poe said "You should get health insurance!"

"Is that a marriage proposal?"

"Yes it is."

And then we were off to Vegas.
posted by poe at 10:33 AM on February 19, 2010 [41 favorites]


ethnomethodologist: "make up for it by being among the privileged who are allowed to marry"

If you are marrying for health insurance, why should your partner care if you are at all into them? Gays are allowed to have heterosexual marriages.
posted by idiopath at 10:34 AM on February 19, 2010 [13 favorites]


I'm pretty sure that a lot of Americans marry their boyfriend/girlfriend at least partially to get health insurance. Even if it's not the only reason to make the relationship legal, it's going to be a factor for many couples. If one of you is a student or free-lancer and the other has a regular job, getting married is often the only way to get affordable insurance.
posted by octothorpe at 10:35 AM on February 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


box: "WHO DO WE HATE THEN???

Insurance companies, lobbyists, Congress--you know, the usual.
"

Ah, so you hate our way of life.
posted by boo_radley at 10:35 AM on February 19, 2010 [7 favorites]


I used to joke I married my ex for the dental insurance. It wasn't entirely true, but it was a factor.
posted by immlass at 10:36 AM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


There are only 535 people with good policies...

Actually there are another 70,000 or so who work for Microsoft. Their insurance is probably actually better than that of the Congress.
posted by jeffamaphone at 10:36 AM on February 19, 2010 [5 favorites]


Just haggling over the price.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 10:37 AM on February 19, 2010 [6 favorites]


My wife is American, and a significant part of the decision we made for her to move up here to Canada, instead of me moving down there, was healthcare-related. I'm still confident that I could have done really well in the States, but when we thought about things in the long term, Canada made a lot more sense. The extra dollars I'd pocket at a U.S. job wound up being negligible compared to what we'd have to pay for health care and/or the stress we'd undergo worrying about health care conditions and whether we'd have to keep terrible jobs to retain coverage, etc.

It's been interesting over the last decade to see the U.S.-bound "brain drain" from Canada slowly reverse, as non-millionaire professionals realize that while taxes are lower and money-in-pocket is higher, the States are a losing game financially in the long term.
posted by Shepherd at 10:38 AM on February 19, 2010 [28 favorites]


Ahh, I now see why all the right-wing christians are against universal health care.
posted by jeffburdges at 10:38 AM on February 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


What if it was a 22 year old woman marrying a 40 year old man to secure her financial well being? WHO DO WE HATE THEN???

Depends. How much agency does the woman have over her own life? Can she get a decent job? Can she support herself? Can she envision living a modest lifestyle?

And more importantly--will she DIE if she doesn't get married? Is the government, or the wedding industry, telling her, "sorry, we can't help you because you didn't work enough or didn't take care of yourself or didn't mark the appropriate box on the form in 1993, etc., etc., etc."?

Apples and oranges, IMHO.
posted by dlugoczaj at 10:41 AM on February 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


I don't need a wife at the moment, but I'd be happy to trade a GP's appointment for a blow job.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:41 AM on February 19, 2010 [8 favorites]


Deal! When can we meet?
posted by Parasite Unseen at 10:43 AM on February 19, 2010 [8 favorites]


Actually there are another 70,000 or so who work for Microsoft. Their insurance is probably actually better than that of the Congress.

Not only that, but they also have a 24-hour nurse-consultation-by-phone service available, if you have questions. A friend used it after one of his kids was born. Extremely cool.
posted by zarq at 10:44 AM on February 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


No kidding, jeffamaphone - I doubt there is better health insurance to be had anywhere on the planet. It is the only thing I miss about working at Microsoft. You walk in, say the word "Microsoft", and the competent medical professionals of your choice do whatever needs to be done, then shoo you out the door without so much as breathing the words "co-pay" or "deductible". They couldn't make it any better short of hiring a chauffeur to drive you to your appointment in a gold-plated limousine.
posted by Mars Saxman at 10:45 AM on February 19, 2010 [6 favorites]


It's a shame they can't do more about the Red Ring of Death.
posted by box at 10:46 AM on February 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


(second linked article, near the bottom)
I have a problem with the fact that I'm someone who works hard every day, and yet someone who is a drain on society and commits a crime can get better health care than me.

I sympathize with her plight and her sentiments in general, but this seems like something that could go dangerously wrong in the hands of the right-wingers.
posted by Shepherd at 10:46 AM on February 19, 2010


It's a shame none of her coworkers will just do it. Or that she couldn't work something out with her ex-husband to delay the official divorce. I've heard of that happening too. A boyfriend-girlfriend couple in which both of them are still officially married to their exes for insurance purposes.
posted by amethysts at 10:47 AM on February 19, 2010


Deal! When can we meet?
posted by Parasite Unseen at 12:43 PM on February 19 [+] [!]


PeterMcDermott had better hope that this wasn't eponysterical...
posted by WinnipegDragon at 10:47 AM on February 19, 2010 [19 favorites]


You walk in, say the word "Microsoft", and the competent medical professionals of your choice do whatever needs to be done, then shoo you out the door without so much as breathing the words "co-pay" or "deductible".

Hey, I get that too, just with my British Columbia CareCard!

Okay, I still have to pay a percentage of my perscription costs, up to a deductible of a couple of hundred bucks, and I might have to wait a while for a non-emergency MRI. But, you know, it all balances out, pretty much.
posted by jokeefe at 10:51 AM on February 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


PS I am also single
posted by jokeefe at 10:53 AM on February 19, 2010


jokeefe: I am already married but I think bigamy is legal in Canada right?

it is such a magical place
posted by shakespeherian at 10:56 AM on February 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


If you are marrying for health insurance, why should your partner care if you are at all into them? Gays are allowed to have heterosexual marriages.

Actually I thought one of the conclusions of the linked AskMe thread was that this might qualify as fraud.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 10:58 AM on February 19, 2010


I got married to my partner of (then) 9 years because I was having a terrible pregnancy and the only medication that kept my constant nausea even remotely under control cost about $50/day. Within six weeks, I'd reached my prescription drug coverage limit for the year. I tried going without the drug, but within about three days it was clear I was going to be miserable and non-functional without it. We got married a few days later, on lunch hour, at the court house, so I could be added to his insurance, and our honeymoon was a stop at the pharmacy to refill my prescription.

The big difference between this woman and me is that I was already in love with the guy. But I don't know that we would ever have gotten married except for the health insurance issue, although we are still going strong 17 years in.
posted by not that girl at 10:58 AM on February 19, 2010 [5 favorites]


From the site:"As of Today ,I have not heard from any goverment official including the President that cares whether I live or die."

This is perhaps not how things work? Like, it is not extreme makeover get a lung edition where Biden reads your message on air and a mobile OR shows up and you also get a tummy tuck so you feel better about yourself.

Anyway: This kind of site does not appeal to me directly, but I think it's a good idea. It's a device that operates on a glurgy level, but with the opposite aim of most glurge that I see. The appeal is direct and personal, without predictive statistics and without ideological trappings that HC opponents would attack to undermine the position. The fact that she has a C-4 deficiency (isn't that lupus? Maybe she should just say that.) might appeal to women voters in similar situations.
posted by boo_radley at 10:59 AM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is the reason why I am married.

Would have been nice to do it for more romantic reasons, but I am self-employed and have pre-existing conditions.

Three cheers for the f*&!ing United States.
posted by kyrademon at 10:59 AM on February 19, 2010 [6 favorites]


Obama should tell Congress to pass healthcare reform in order to preserve the sanctity of marriage.
posted by nestor_makhno at 11:00 AM on February 19, 2010 [69 favorites]


My wife and I recently had the epiphany that, since we're not religious, we could get divorced strategically in order to reap the benefits as needed; for instance, to get ready access to financial aid when the kids are ready for college by divorcing and claiming I'm a non-supporting father. If we didn't tell anyone we'd done it (other than what's legally required, of course) we'd still be married in the eyes or our friends and families.

It's kind of similar to the idea of walking away from your mortgage, at least to me -- if you're not married for religious reasons, then you're married for financial/security reasons, to show the strength of your commitment, or both to varying degrees. If you're committed to each other sufficiently that you don't feel the need to be married to show it (or if you've agreed the financial benefits to a temporary or permanent marriage outweigh the loss of security/commitment expression), then staying in a marriage that's financially disadvantageous is similar to staying in an underwater mortgage, inasmuch as you might be concerned about the social stigma or feel like a bad person.

That why, incidentally, if we did divorce for financial reasons, we wouldn't tell our friends or families; the social repercussions are significant. As for feeling like bad people, one of the benefits to being in a committed relationship is the idea that our relationship is ours to define as it best suits us, and nobody else is in a position to tell us we're bad people and should feel bad.

Having said all that: it's good to know I'm a solid catch because I'm tall and have good medical coverage. That's hawt.
posted by davejay at 11:00 AM on February 19, 2010 [7 favorites]


I love my spouse, but I would not have married him if he could have stayed on his parent's insurance policy forever.
posted by muddgirl at 11:02 AM on February 19, 2010


Another reply simply states, "Give Canada a shot."

This makes the most sense to me as it's not clear how marrying someone in the U.S. will help her obtain coverage for a pre-existing condition. For Americans the only alternative is really to declare bankruptcy and hope you qualify for Medicaid. A terrible, terrible mess and it looks nothing at all like the best health care system in the world.

On the other hand, I do not think Americans are ready to accept the cost of universal coverage. I live in Sweden which has a single payer, mostly government run health-care system. It's not bad, but it is damned expensive.

Every month I have to pay 45% "arbetsgivareavgift" - employer fee - on the salaries I pay my employees. This is really crushing and keeps wages down. On top of this employees pay income tax between 28% and about 51% depending on income. The average marginal tax rate is about 35%. (And then there is the 25% VAT on nearly everything you buy, but let's not go there.)

In other words, for each 145 kronor I pay out of my business, employees receive in their pockets 65 kronor.

And on top of this, I pay for private insurance (7000 kronor per year per person) which provides my employees with essentially faster access. Waiting times are otherwise indeed quite long.

This would never, ever fly in the US of A and it seems to me most Americans would rather read tragic stories like this in the newspapers than pay taxes like this.

I am born and raised in America, I am American, but Sweden (with its high taxes and hard climate) is my home by choice. There is no where else I would rather live. It is lovely in the summer.

Whi nøt trei a høliday in Sweden this yer?
See the løveli lakes
The wonderful telephøne system
And mani interesting furry animals
posted by three blind mice at 11:03 AM on February 19, 2010 [23 favorites]


I've got domestic partner coverage, god love my boyfriend's employer, or I wouldn't have any insurance at all...

I once spent a good week weeping waiting for test results, convinced I had the same cancer that killed my grandmother in her late 40s, and thinking about how incredibly fucked I'd be if I wasn't covered (not to mention worrying they'd find a way to throw me off if I ended up being too expensive in the end).

It all worked out ok but I still get heart palpitations just thinking about what a burden I would be to my parents (neither of whom have health insurance either) and my boyfriend if I *had* had cancer. This is not exactly the most productive way to spend a week, so imagine how much productivity overall is going out the window in the US with people in similar circumstances!
posted by bitter-girl.com at 11:03 AM on February 19, 2010 [6 favorites]


My wife and I had been together well into the period where we could have gotten married but just hadn't since neither of us much liked weddings or the possible mistaken religious implications portions of our extended families might read into the whole thing, etc.

And then I needed my wisdom teeth out, and my shitty permatemp job wasn't gonna help out in the least. That was the push that finally got us past our reservations and into the courtroom one weekday morning.

I really couldn't be luckier, and the existence or not of a marriage certificate has no real bearing on my day-to-day life or happiness, but for a number of financial and logistical reasons it feels like it was an inevitability; if it hadn't happened then, it would have happened the next time something like that became an issue.

From an efficiency perspective, "wife" has fewer syllables and keystrokes and requires fewer qualifiers than "girlfriend", so there's that too. Preventative care re: repetitive motion injuries?
posted by cortex at 11:04 AM on February 19, 2010 [8 favorites]


I knew I was being used!!! Damn him!
posted by stormpooper at 11:05 AM on February 19, 2010


Providing health insurance for my now-wife was one factor in deciding to get married when we did. Of course, a couple of years later, I was laid off along with everyone else who got health insurance from the company we were working for. Now, all of the money I make from one of the part-time jobs I have goes entirely to health insurance premiums. Or it did until they raised my rates by 10% after a year of zero payouts.
posted by vibrotronica at 11:05 AM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


If tomorrow all the things were gone,
I’d worked for all my life.
And I had to start again,
with just my children and my wife who I married for her health insurance.

I’d thank my lucky stars,
to be livin' here today. And not in Commie-nist Death Panel Canada!
‘Cause the flag still stands for freedom,
and they can’t take that away. 'Cause freedom isn't free, and neither is healthcare!

And I’m proud to be an American,
where at least I know I’m free. To choose bankruptcy or death.
‘Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land,
God bless the You-Ess-Ayyyyyyyyyy.
posted by orthogonality at 11:05 AM on February 19, 2010 [10 favorites]


I got married to my partner of (then) 9 years because I was having a terrible pregnancy and the only medication that kept my constant nausea even remotely under control cost about $50/day. Within six weeks, I'd reached my prescription drug coverage limit for the year. I tried going without the drug, but within about three days it was clear I was going to be miserable and non-functional without it. We got married a few days later, on lunch hour, at the court house, so I could be added to his insurance, and our honeymoon was a stop at the pharmacy to refill my prescription.

This is our story almost exactly. J and I had been together over a decade, and owned a home together. One beautiful May day it suddenly became clear that the medical bills related to my pregnancy were going to overwhelm my weak insurance policy, and we got married the next day. We did it at city hall and then ate hot dogs in the park to celebrate.

To placate our families, we had an "official" wedding after our son was born, but that emergency court house wedding was our real marriage day, and it ensured that our child was born healthy and strong.
posted by anastasiav at 11:07 AM on February 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


This makes the most sense to me as it's not clear how marrying someone in the U.S. will help her obtain coverage for a pre-existing condition.

Lots of employee-sponsored plans will cover pre-existing conditions. My plan does not even require an entrance physical or anything.

The problem is that private insurance plans will generally not cover pre-existing conditions.
posted by muddgirl at 11:09 AM on February 19, 2010 [6 favorites]


My having health insurance from a Fortune 500 company probably doubles my financial worth to my wife - who, despite earning much more than I do in her private practice, would have difficulty affording what she would have to pay for her own health insurance, assuming she could get it at all.
posted by Joe Beese at 11:09 AM on February 19, 2010


The health insurance situation in the US really makes being a stay-at-home risky too. When I got laid off two years ago, my wife just put me on her employer's insurance that day, no problems. Some of my male co-workers had stay-at-home wives and multiple kids and the COBRA payments were >$1000 a month which is hard to pay when you don't have a job.
posted by octothorpe at 11:19 AM on February 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Gays are allowed to have heterosexual marriages

Though we are domestic partners, we still have separate health insurance. He works for a Fortune 500 company and I work for a non-profit research institution. I don't know about his rates, but I know my rates and co-pays increased dramatically this year, and my salary is one of many at my workplace that was frozen because of school-wide budget cutbacks.

Being gay, I think we're still used to having to do everything on our own. I can get on his health plan and we would probably save a fair amount of money, but given all the threats to our rights by anonymous cowards in religious organizations last year, I think I have legitimate concerns that the meager legal protections we enjoy as domestic partners could evaporate at any time, if the political and social climates change enough.

We have legal rights but they are always threatened, which complicates getting healthcare through marriage-or-whatever-it-has-to-be-called-today. It is a pernicious kind of economic violence, one of many kinds of violence these hate groups commit to minorities. It is one reason why the "gays can get married to opposite sex partners" trope makes my blood boil.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:22 AM on February 19, 2010 [16 favorites]


three blind mice: "

In other words, for each 145 kronor I pay out of my business, employees receive in their pockets 65 kronor.
"

American businesses can generate (in my experience) a Total Compensation statement that tallies everything that looks similar. Right now my TC shows I get $0.70 of the company's dollar. BUT, there's no guideline for what goes into that statement -- so part of that is vacation/ sick leave time, there's a line item for the annual bus pass that I couldn't take advantage of -- there's a lot of fat in there that allows them to say "see how much we spend on you" without actually spending that much, but still keeping wages under thumb.
posted by boo_radley at 11:27 AM on February 19, 2010


I, too, was going to chime in to suggest that one marry someone who works at Microsoft. However, from what I understand it's only awesome for employees and dependents unless the spouse/partner doesn't work?
posted by superkim at 11:33 AM on February 19, 2010


Blazecock Pileon: "the "gays can get married to opposite sex partners" trope makes my blood boil."

Sorry. My intended point is that a situation that leads to marriage that is purely for insurance reasons is already kind of farcical, so what is the harm in taking that farce one step further. It was meant to be a joke at the expense of the fucked up healthcare system and inequality of marriage law, not at the expense of uninsured gays.
posted by idiopath at 11:38 AM on February 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yes, sorry, I understood your larger point.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:41 AM on February 19, 2010


Another reply simply states, "Give Canada a shot."

This makes the most sense to me (...)


As somebody whose (American) wife is going through Permanent Residency proceedings right now with the Canadian Government, there are medical exams involved; they are bloody expensive (US$450 for our first one in Atlanta) and must be renewed every year.

Since it's taken over a year for her in the process (her file is a little more complicated than a best-case scenario), we just got the letter ordering us to have her undergo another medical exam. We're waiting on the order letter (they informed me by e-mail), at which point we have to pony up several hundred more dollars for some doctor to examine her and fill out a form.

I have no idea what these exams are used for -- she's hale and hearty, so we've had no occasion to worry about it or research it -- but I'm fairly certain that the Canadian government does have safeguards against people who are obviously trying to immigrate just to glom onto our healthcare system. The official phrasing:

Applications for permanent residence will not be accepted if that person’s health:

* is a danger to public health or safety; or
* would cause excessive demand on health or social services in Canada.


As much as I jokingly encourage people to move to Canada when the healthcare debate comes up, it's not a universal balm that just involves moseying up to a customs office and saying "hi." It's hella hard for somebody who's married to a Canadian to get permanent residency; I can't imagine how somebody with dire medical needs and no strong ties could ever get PR status up here.
posted by Shepherd at 11:43 AM on February 19, 2010 [6 favorites]


Three Blind Mice....the issue to my mind is, I would rather pay those taxes/etc and reap the security of knowing that if I get laid off, or if I want to go back to school to get a better job, or if I just can't take my boss any longer, or if I discover that my company is involved in unethical/illegal activites, etc etc etc, I don't have to worry about not having health insurance. So many of our decisions as Americans in terms of our work lives revolve around the fear of not having health care, that I believe the psychic relief from removing that axe over our heads would be tremendous and way worth the extra tax.
posted by spicynuts at 11:45 AM on February 19, 2010 [12 favorites]


I'm pretty sure that a lot of Americans marry their boyfriend/girlfriend at least partially to get health insurance. Even if it's not the only reason to make the relationship legal, it's going to be a factor for many couples.

A huge, HUGE part of why 'moonMan and I are seriously considering marriage is so that I can get on his health insurance plan. HUGE part of it. Oh yeah, and we love each other and want to spend our lives together and that crap too... but you don't need marriage for that. You DO, however, need it to pass on the sweet, sweet lovin' of insurance coverage.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 11:45 AM on February 19, 2010


I get that too, just with my British Columbia CareCard!

Ah, yes, I remember what that was like, and it was stunningly beautiful to me in its simplicity and lack of administrative hassle. I'm a US citizen, but I once lived in British Columbia for two years on a spousal work permit. I remember how much the ease of obtaining good health care in Canada improved my life. I found myself overcome with gratitude, even to the point of embarrassing a couple of the doctors at times, when I was easily able to obtain medical assistance at little or no cost.

Now that I'm back in the USA, single and uininsured, if I get seriously ill, I could easily end up in a situation like Terri's, or like this one from AskMe. So I am very sympathetic to Terri's plight.
posted by velvet winter at 11:47 AM on February 19, 2010


I have a problem with the fact that I'm someone who works hard every day, and yet someone who is a drain on society and commits a crime can get better health care than me.

I sympathize with her plight and her sentiments in general, but this seems like something that could go dangerously wrong in the hands of the right-wingers.


No kidding. Their solution would be to start feeding them all gruel (produced via lucrative government contract with, say, Monsanto) once a week rather than improve health care for anyone. Anything to make life shittier, to be more cruel.
posted by DecemberBoy at 11:49 AM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


the privileged who are allowed to marry.

Uh, nope. It's just not true that some adults in America are not "allowed to marry." The case for same-sex marriage is sufficiently strong that there's no need to distort the facts. It's also bad strategy, because when you say things that are inaccurate, you feed into opponents of same-sex marriage by practically asking them to make the obvious, factually correct, irrelevant retort. Gays, straights, and bisexuals can marry in the US, and this fact shouldn't be shouted down just because it's politically incorrect. We should be focused on the actual problem, which is that everyone (not just the tiny percentage of the population that happens to be gay) is prevented from marrying other people of their own gender (except in states/countries that don't allow SSM). The discrimination is based on gender, not sexual orientation. Actually, the fact that gays can marry, but only unhappily, is a good argument in favor of same-sex marriage, so I don't see any need to shift attention away from this fact.
posted by Jaltcoh at 11:50 AM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Jaltcoh - Many people pointed out in the AskMe thread linked above that if you marry someone solely for the purposes of insurance, it can be considered fraud and you could be fired by your employer. So yes, there IS a privileged group who can marry AND defend themselves from accusations of fraud.
posted by muddgirl at 11:53 AM on February 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


(except in states/countries that don't allow SSM).
posted by Jaltcoh at 11:53 AM on February 19, 2010


It's a shame they can't do more about the Red Ring of Death.

Depends on where you have it. Strip please.
posted by Splunge at 11:55 AM on February 19, 2010


Many people pointed out in the AskMe thread linked above that if you marry someone solely for the purposes of insurance, it can be considered fraud and you could be fired by your employer.

I thought the whole premise of the link was marrying someone solely for their health insurance. If you're right about the law, though, I suppose that would put gays at a disadvantage if they have a harder time covering up the pretextual nature of their marriage. But everything I said in my comment still stands: it's a bad idea to talk about "the privileged who are allowed to marry" in the US because this is factually inaccurate and also bad political strategy.
posted by Jaltcoh at 11:58 AM on February 19, 2010


She could also move to Massachusetts, where insurance companies would be forced to insure her. They can charge people more with a pre-existing condition, but there's a limit. Unless there's some rule like "You must live in MA for X years before you qualify for universal insurance" But I don't know if that's the case.
posted by delmoi at 12:02 PM on February 19, 2010


...soon to be a romantic comedy starring Hugh Grant and Sandra Bullock!
posted by Doohickie at 12:02 PM on February 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


My wife and I recently had the epiphany that, since we're not religious, we could get divorced strategically in order to reap the benefits as needed; for instance, to get ready access to financial aid when the kids are ready for college by divorcing and claiming I'm a non-supporting father. If we didn't tell anyone we'd done it (other than what's legally required, of course) we'd still be married in the eyes or our friends and families.

I am not a lawyer, but note that if you are going to try strategically divorcing like this, you'll probably want to draft and sign a post-nup. Otherwise, you'll be stuck with whatever the state divorce laws are, which are not really designed around non-permanent strategic divorces. You need to make sure that it is legally binding and can override the state laws, because you can't just come up with your own agreement after the fact.
posted by burnmp3s at 12:02 PM on February 19, 2010


But everything I said in my comment still stands: it's a bad idea to talk about "the privileged who are allowed to marry" in the US because this is factually inaccurate and also bad political strategy.

Your argument that "everyone is allowed to marry" reminds me of when I was a young radical lesbian feminist 25 or so years ago, and I used to say that I was not a man-hater at all--I just didn't like people with penises.
posted by not that girl at 12:03 PM on February 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


It's a shame none of her coworkers will just do it.

Her coworkers don't have health insurance, either; that's the point - the company can't get coverage because it employs mostly people with (expensive) disabilities.
posted by Pax at 12:03 PM on February 19, 2010


they are bloody expensive (US$450 for our first one in Atlanta)

I've spent like ten minutes staring at that sentence trying to imagine how nice it would be to live in a place where $450 for anything medical sounds expensive. Damn you, Canadian immigration points system.
posted by enn at 12:03 PM on February 19, 2010 [5 favorites]


This idea may or may not be a good plan, but my wife told me she married me so she could dump her last name, which at that time she disliked.
My advice: never never ever marry for money. Go where the money is and marry for love.
posted by Postroad at 12:06 PM on February 19, 2010


As somebody whose (American) wife is going through Permanent Residency proceedings right now with the Canadian Government,

But is not residency sufficient? Referring again to my example, anyone who is legally resident in Sweden is covered by the Swedish health insurance system. You do not need to be a permanent resident.

Would not this woman be granted Canadian residency permit if she marries a Canadian citizen?

It took me 5 years of full-time residency before I could apply for permanent residency. Same for my American wife even though I already had permanent status before we were married. She was automatically (more or less) given a residency permit having married someone with permanent residency even though I was (and still am) not a citizen of the country.

Fortunately, our kids (one born in London the other in Stockholm) were granted PUT (permanent residency) immediately based on my status, but they had no right individually (even though the little boy was born there.)

We were all covered by the Swedish heath care system (and of course subject to Swedish tax) from the moment we arrived in country even while the applications were pending.

We are true immigrants (the leading edge of the great reverse migration I like to say.)

The important thing is that we followed all of the laws, made proper application in good time, and jumped through all of the hoops. That I own/run my own business in Stockholm was a helpful, but not determining factor. (Oddly enough there was no requirement that we learn Swedish - but the whole family is now perfectly fluent, except for the wife who speaks a terrific Viennese and can't seem to shake the Austrian accent when she speaks Swedish. That she sounds a bit like Queen Silvia is certainly not a drawback...)
posted by three blind mice at 12:07 PM on February 19, 2010


Your argument that "everyone is allowed to marry" reminds me of when I was a young radical lesbian feminist 25 or so years ago, and I used to say that I was not a man-hater at all--I just didn't like people with penises.
posted by not that girl 3 minutes ago [1 favorite +]


I don't have an "argument that everyone is allowed to marry." It's just a fact. You can ignore it if you want, but I don't think you're doing gays and bisexuals any favors by doing so. Again: the facts are on the side of supporters of SSM, so we should state the facts clearly and correctly.
posted by Jaltcoh at 12:10 PM on February 19, 2010


Many people pointed out in the AskMe thread linked above that if you marry someone solely for the purposes of insurance, it can be considered fraud and you could be fired by your employer.

Fraud requires proof. This would be impossible to prove without an admission of guilt.
posted by coolguymichael at 12:17 PM on February 19, 2010


Oh hello 19th Century. I can't say I missed you, but are you bringing back Sullivanesqe design and foppery?

No?

Well then.
posted by The Whelk at 12:18 PM on February 19, 2010 [8 favorites]


Actually there are another 70,000 or so who work for Microsoft. Their insurance is probably actually better than that of the Congress.

Not only that, but they also have a 24-hour nurse-consultation-by-phone service available, if you have questions. A friend used it after one of his kids was born. Extremely cool.

No kidding, jeffamaphone - I doubt there is better health insurance to be had anywhere on the planet. It is the only thing I miss about working at Microsoft. You walk in, say the word "Microsoft", and the competent medical professionals of your choice do whatever needs to be done, then shoo you out the door without so much as breathing the words "co-pay" or "deductible". They couldn't make it any better short of hiring a chauffeur to drive you to your appointment in a gold-plated limousine.


I remember a few days after Mr. Padraigin's company was acquired by Microsoft, picking up a routine prescription and being shocked that it cost me nothing out of pocket. Since I handle the management of most of our family's health needs, the last couple of years were pretty heavenly for me. Anything we needed, we got, and I hardly spent a penny on any of it, even if I ventured out of network.

But not so much heavenly for him, so now we live and work somewhere else, and two days ago I looked at our new health plan information and pretty much burst into tears. I'm really glad the Mr. has found a workplace that he can love and a path on which he can thrive, but I can't guarantee my head wouldn't be turned by a dashing Microsoftie dangling the promise of reinstatement of my vision coverage.
posted by padraigin at 12:19 PM on February 19, 2010


Wow this is sad. I did not expect to feel as emotional about this poor woman's situation. She's seems like a fantastic human being. This is just so damned sad.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 12:23 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Shepherd: "It's hella hard for somebody who's married to a Canadian to get permanent residency"

What's up with that? I understand countries being parsimonious with full citizenship. But not granting a spouse permanent residency? What is the spouse expected to do? Submit a new visa application every two years until death do them part?
posted by Joe Beese at 12:24 PM on February 19, 2010


I was doing a survey about graduate employment the other day and was confused when I reached a question that asked me if I thought it was important that employers provided health insurance.

My employer doesn't, but I live in the UK and have access to the NHS, so it really isn't important for me.

I clicked yes for all you unfortunates though.
posted by knapah at 12:25 PM on February 19, 2010


I'm totally putting "I HAVE AWESOME INSURANCE" on my HotorNot profile.
posted by mecran01 at 12:25 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


spicynuts: I would rather pay those taxes/etc and reap the security of knowing that if I get laid off, or if I want to go back to school to get a better job, or if I just can't take my boss any longer, or if I discover that my company is involved in unethical/illegal activites, etc etc etc,

My feelings exactly spicynuts. In fact, I argue to my American colleagues that a national health care system ENCOURAGES risk taking and entrepreneurial activity. It is GREAT for small business. It enabled me to quit my job, start a business, and never have to worry about loosing health care coverage. A huge burden that I never needed to worry about so I could instead worry about running my business. I would not have taken the same risk in America. Simple as that.

Also there is much to be said for showing up at the hospital and no one asks about payment, insurance, etc. A great relief when the little boy was born and the wife suffered complications. We knew that our only bill would be the 140 kronor (20 dollar) co-pay for each day in the hospital.

As comparison when my little boy had to be admitted to Seattle Children's Hospital last year, we fretted very much over what it would cost, even refusing a ride in the ambulance despite the doctor's insistence. (My wife was once a local and has a lead foot so we chanced it.) Crazy really, but we looked at each other and thought "what is THAT going to cost?"

17 hours in the ER and we were handed a bill for slightly over 3500 dollars - for a case of the croup. (Fortunately, the travel rider on our Swedish homeowner's policy paid 100% of this cost.)
posted by three blind mice at 12:26 PM on February 19, 2010 [12 favorites]


I remember a few days after Mr. Padraigin's company was acquired by Microsoft, picking up a routine prescription and being shocked that it cost me nothing out of pocket. Since I handle the management of most of our family's health needs, the last couple of years were pretty heavenly for me. Anything we needed, we got, and I hardly spent a penny on any of it, even if I ventured out of network.

It floored me when I compared notes with my friend. One of his kids needed a special type of formula and it was covered by prescription. I was spending $250 per month on *powdered* formula for my 2 kids, but the *premixed, liquid* formula was 100% covered, without any out of pocket. Amazing.
posted by zarq at 12:27 PM on February 19, 2010


Applications for permanent residence [in Canada] will not be accepted if that person’s health...would cause excessive demand on health or social services in Canada.

This provision does not apply to spouses. Unless your wife is a danger to public health, there is no reason that the results of the medical exam will cause her to be turned down.

It's hella hard for somebody who's married to a Canadian to get permanent residency

It's easier for an American married to a Canadian to immigrate to Canada than for a Canadian married to an American to immigrate to the U.S.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 12:27 PM on February 19, 2010


(Microsoft derail...)

I, too, was going to chime in to suggest that one marry someone who works at Microsoft. However, from what I understand it's only awesome for employees and dependents unless the spouse/partner doesn't work?

If the spouse/partner works, and has health insurance available to them, then you have two options - 1) use MS benefits as secondary insurance, for free, or 2) use MS benefits as primary for $150/mo.

Secondary insurance works fine, you just have to manually submit bills from the providers that don't automatically bill secondary insurances.

In addition to the 24-hr nurse line, you can also request 24-hr doctor house visits, just like the good ol' days!

Also, we're hiring (if you don't want to get married).
posted by Diddly at 12:30 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Again: the facts are on the side of supporters of SSM, so we should state the facts clearly and correctly.

The fact is that, with a few exceptions, same-sex partners cannot get married to each other, while opposite-sex partners can (and do) get married to each other. This is a de facto privilege on the basis of sexuality, not gender, because in reality, committed same-sex couples are in nearly all cases necessarily homosexual, and the basis for discrimination is the participants' sexuality, not their gender.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:31 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Jaltcoh: I don't have an "argument that everyone is allowed to marry." It's just a fact.

But this is casuistry. Everyone involved in this debate knows that "allowed to marry" means "allowed to marry the person they want to marry". I can't see how you think it can possibly help the cause of same-sex marriage to play wordgames like this.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 12:33 PM on February 19, 2010 [5 favorites]


Unless there's some rule like "You must live in MA for X years before you qualify for universal insurance" But I don't know if that's the case.

Nope. I moved to MA and got insurance right away after submitting two pay stubs. (So, you have to have been there long enough to get two pay stubs.) Unfortunately, my partner's PhD required we move out of MA. *sigh* The whole country can't move to MA, unfortunately.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 12:34 PM on February 19, 2010


The discrimination is based on gender, not sexual orientation

This couldn't be more wrong. To provide a clear counterexample, a common argument against same-sex marriage is that homosexuality will be taught in schools to children, which has nothing to do with the gender of the partners who wish to enter into marriage. Discrimination is based almost entirely on the sexual behavior of the two people involved.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:36 PM on February 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


Add my wife and I to the list of people who finally got married for health insurance. We already owned a house together and felt that a mortgage was just as binding, but during the dotcom meltdown she was unemployed for a while when I was not, so we went to the courthouse and tied the knot on Halloween (in deference to my inability to remember dates, I just wait until I see jack-o-lanterns and I know it's time to start shopping for a present.)

On the way to the courthouse, Rob Zombie's Never Gonna Stop was playing. And because I'm such a romantic, it's been our song ever since.
posted by quin at 12:39 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


I am born and raised in America, I am American, but Sweden (with its high taxes and hard climate) is my home by choice. There is no where else I would rather live. It is lovely in the summer.

Believe me, things being the way they are in the US, if I and my partner could get through whatever immigration hurdles there would be, and there were some advantage for immigrants with Swedish ancestry (i.e., me), we would be there in an instant, high taxes or no.

This provision does not apply to spouses. Unless your wife is a danger to public health, there is no reason that the results of the medical exam will cause her to be turned down.

I'm curious -- what would be a danger to public health? An expensive-to-treat chronic illness? Also, again, just curious -- why would the provision not apply to a spouse?

It's easier for an American married to a Canadian to immigrate to Canada than for a Canadian married to an American to immigrate to the U.S.

This I don't doubt for a minute. Especially if the marriage/relationship is not a "legal" marriage (according to DOMA).
posted by blucevalo at 12:51 PM on February 19, 2010


But is not residency sufficient? Referring again to my example, anyone who is legally resident in Sweden is covered by the Swedish health insurance system. You do not need to be a permanent resident.

Would not this woman be granted Canadian residency permit if she marries a Canadian citizen?


The way the system is structured here, there are three basic statuses (it's more complicated than this, but basically this is how it goes) -- you can be a visitor (from a country that doesn't require a visa, just in the country looking around), here on an official visa (work, student, temporary resident), or a permanent resident.

Some work and student visas give you health care access (it's never been something I've needed to know about, so I don't really have the full picture there); my wife is here on a Temporary Resident Permit right now because of a nine-year-old DUI that renders her technically inadmissible to Canada.

What's up with that? I understand countries being parsimonious with full citizenship. But not granting a spouse permanent residency? What is the spouse expected to do? Submit a new visa application every two years until death do them part?


Marriage conveys no benefits. Zip. Nothing. It is basically a pretext for immigration, and one that lets you sidestep some requirements (having a sponsor that meets fixed income requirements, for instance), and generally smooths the wheels, but there's no guarantee you'll get granted permanent resident status. It's probable, but not guaranteed -- in our case, this DUI from nearly a decade ago has added months and months and months to the process.

In our case, she's here on a TRP; if the permanent residency process takes another, say, eight years, she'd have to keep applying to re-up that temporary residency. No health insurance, no right to study, can't work. No nothin' until the PR finally comes through.

We're kind of an outlying case in that this seems ridiculously severe, but a DUI is kind of the "least bad" thing that can flag you as needing a different set of permissions, called "rehabilitation," before permanent residency will be granted. Don't drink and drive, kids. But when you follow the logic to the other extreme -- that if Charles Manson were released from prison tomorrow, we wouldn't necessarily want to convey full benefits of citizenship on him just because he happened to marry someone from north of the 49th -- it makes a bit more sense.

Again, it's taking longer in our case than it does in many, but it's not unusual for it to take well over a year for applications to be processed. Until you're granted PR, you get bupkis.


This provision does not apply to spouses. Unless your wife is a danger to public health, there is no reason that the results of the medical exam will cause her to be turned down.


I honestly have no idea about that one way or the other; the central point is that if somebody is seriously thinking "Canada!" as a solution for healthcare woes, it is not an easy country to emigrate to. Whether Canada or the States is harder to move to is hotly debated, but it's really not a simple matter, and there's a whole system designed to screen for people that seem to be trying to move up for healthcare-motivated reasons.
posted by Shepherd at 12:55 PM on February 19, 2010


So essentially this woman is having to prostitute herself to get on a life raft. And if the party of 'Jesus and Family Values' gets its way, these kinds of desperate efforts are going to become increasingly more common.

It seems that the health care debate is a paradigm for America's slow but inexorable decline, a decline that is being accelerated by the worst kind of self-defeating, hate-driven selfishness and dishonesty that is embraced disproportionately by those members of our society who suffer most from the corporate influence over our government.

But of course facts, policy and results stop mattering if you can inject enough fear, hatred, and religion into your politics. Nor is there much chance most voters will recognize the huge gulf that exists between reality and their politics, when their sources for information are just echo chambers of their political party.

Even if HCR does pass, it will be more favorable to the insurance companies than voters than it should have been, had their been an honest effort by both political parties to address the real problems in the system. (And if it does pass, look for Republicans and insurance companies to work together to kill it in the cradle, with massive rate increases and a race to the bottom in terms of coverage quality).

Nor does the length and tone of the HCR debate augur well for our political process going forward, and its ability to handle other critical issues that do not garner such high initial support and public attention.

It's sad, too, when you can look at so many of our politicians and find yourself asking without any hyperbole 'whose side are they on?'. Unfortunately, as America continues to decline, our politics will only get uglier and uglier. The recent Supreme Court ruling on corporate political spending will only accelerate that decline.
posted by Davenhill at 12:56 PM on February 19, 2010 [6 favorites]


Sort of the reverse of this -- my parents' primary care physician is an internist, and his wife is his office manager. She has a medical condition, which, if he were to include her in his small practice's group health plan, would make the premiums go through the roof for everybody. So she has no insurance. Imagine that - a doctor's wife who has no health insurance! I had always taken him for being a big-C conservative, partly because he's a rich doctor and partly because that's par for the course in this pathetic, paranoid, teabagger town, but apparently no, he's a major proponent of the US having a single payer system because he sees first hand what the insurance game really is all about.
posted by contessa at 12:57 PM on February 19, 2010 [5 favorites]


But this is casuistry.

*looks up casuistry*

...

ok.
posted by shmegegge at 1:04 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wow, I would rather get a job I didn't like that had good benefits than marry for imperfect reasons. I guess I'm a romantic.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:11 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wow, I would rather get a job I didn't like that had good benefits than marry for imperfect reasons. I guess I'm a romantic. not suffering from a pre-existing condition that disqualifies me from coverage I can afford.
posted by shmegegge at 1:13 PM on February 19, 2010 [18 favorites]


(me:) The discrimination is based on gender, not sexual orientation

(Blazecock Pileon:) This couldn't be more wrong. To provide a clear counterexample, a common argument against same-sex marriage is that homosexuality will be taught in schools to children, which has nothing to do with the gender of the partners who wish to enter into marriage.


Oh, it's motivated by anti-gay animus. Of course. I think we all know that.

But I'm just talking about what the law says. The law doesn't say: gays can't get married. For one thing, what about bisexuals? Does it say they can get married? Well, it doesn't say anything one way or the other, because the marriage law doesn't say anything about "bisexuals." The government, for the most part has no idea what your "sexual orientation" or my "sexual orientation" is, so it can't possibly use that as the basis for discrimination. But the government does know that I'm male and you're male, so it says you and I can't marry each other. The consequence of that is, of course, fine for me, since I'm straight, but a problem for you, since you're gay. Not that you want to marry me, but you want to marry someone of my gender, and you're not allowed to, and you should be allowed to. You are "allowed to marry," period. You're not allowed to marry the person you want to marry and should be allowed to marry, and that is the precise problem with the law.

Or, to look at it another way, I'm straight. But the government has no idea about that and doesn't care. I could be gay or bisexual for all the government knows, and it would have nothing to do with whether they recognize my marriage (were I to get married). If I tell the government I want to marry someone, it will have very few questions for me before allowing me to do so. It needs to know our ages and whether we're related, and that's fine. But before it will recognize the marriage, it also needs to know that I'm male and she's female. Then and only then can the marriage be legally valid. That doesn't directly harm me since I'm able to get the result I want for myself, but I'm still outraged that I have to cross this threshold, because I have friends and family members who are gay/bisexual, and I want them to be able to marry the people they love. So of course it has to do with sexual orientation.

I'm really amazed this meets so much resistance. Similar discussions have come up in past Mefi threads, always with people saying "Gays aren't allowed to marry!" No, don't cloud the issue when we have such a strong position! It's nitpicky, I know, but it really bothers me when SSM supporters make sloppy statements that play into the hands of SSM opponents. Maybe you don't read right-wing comments sections, but I do, and I assure you, they love when we get the facts wrong because it lets them appear (illegitimately) to poke holes in our position. It might seem silly to us, but they're actually serious and have a lot of power. The fact that they're factually correct makes it all the worse.
posted by Jaltcoh at 1:13 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


You are "allowed to marry," period.

as has been mentioned upthread, even though I know you support gay marriage and are not arguing against it, this sounds almost completely like playing word games. it is, in fact, helping to frame the debate in exactly the way gay marriage opponents want it to be framed because it is mired in semantics instead of simply talking about whether or not two people in love are allowed to be married to one another regardless of sexual orientation.

if you're really trying to help the gay marriage side of this debate, the way you're going about it is all wrong. please consider that.
posted by shmegegge at 1:16 PM on February 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


Fine.

> I guess I'm a romantic . not suffering from a pre-existing condition that disqualifies me from coverage I can afford.

I would also rather be sick or move to another country or turn to a life of crime than marry for imperfect reasons. I am a stupid, stubborn romantic atheist who's not gonna get fucking married for something I can't obtain for myself, is the point. Thanks for playing.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:19 PM on February 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


I love my spouse, but I would not have married him if he could have stayed on his parent's insurance policy forever.

Gee that's romantic.
posted by Big_B at 1:24 PM on February 19, 2010


I wonder if one of the reasons conservatives oppose healthcare reform in the US, is that it will mean that marriage (and therefore reproduction) is no longer aligned with the financial success of the partner? That liberalism is really asking to breed a nation based on pure feelings, not achievement?
posted by niccolo at 1:24 PM on February 19, 2010


look, I'm not trying to get on your case. I just thought your first comment was awfully dismissive of the woman's situation, and lead me to wonder if you'd read the interview link entirely.

it's worth pointing out that she's not worried about "getting sick." she is sick. she takes 10-20 pills a day to function and is routinely in the hospital. she has multiple kids. she is worried about dying and losing everything she has and not being able to take care of her kids.

again, I'm really not trying to get on your case, so I'm sorry if this is coming across that way. but I think it bears pointing out that her situation is rather more dire than you might be assuming. if I'm wrong, fine, I apologize in advance. but it really reads that way to me right now.
posted by shmegegge at 1:24 PM on February 19, 2010


Yeah, shmegegge, I read it all, and then this thread, where people are talking about marrying for far less dire medical imperatives than her immune disorder, which I just don't care to do, myself. I don't know why you assumed I was an illiterate for holding an atypical point of view for a political progressive person, and I didn't say anything about her in my comment. I happen to think marriage is really special and I won't do it until it's correct. I've been waiting 8 years now and I'm not caving over my health, and I've thought about it. No, it's not practical.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:30 PM on February 19, 2010


(living in sin is good for the health, btw.)
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:31 PM on February 19, 2010


"Gays aren't allowed to marry!" No, don't cloud the issue when we have such a strong position! It's nitpicky, I know, but it really bothers me when SSM supporters make sloppy statements that play into the hands of SSM opponents.

I'm sorry, but you really sound like you've got lost in some crazy vortex of semantic debates. The same-sex marriage debate will be won (and it will, through generational change, be won in the end) by a larger and larger proportion of people recognizing that the relationship between two gay people is worthy of the same societal honor as the relationship between two straight people. It won't be won by supporters of gay marriage going around pretending that their real goal is to vindicate some kind of hypothetical libertarian argument about how the government should have no interest whatsoever in who's getting married to whom. Apart from anything else, this argument is internally incoherent, since if you oppose the current situation on libertarian grounds (rather than on the grounds that gay relationships deserve positive societal validation) you should really be arguing that the state should get out of the marriage business altogether.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 1:32 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ok, making a flip remark like that just reminded me that there are people for who are very much embroiled in this debate, and I'm not one of them, because I'm a hardliner about it. So please just forget I said anything, because my POV isn't really relevant to this discussion.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:33 PM on February 19, 2010


I knew that healthcare was bad here--you can't live in the US and not realize we have a huge problem--but I had no idea that it had affected couples to such an extent that people were getting married for coverage.

Great FPP.
posted by misha at 1:35 PM on February 19, 2010


I totally see your POV, Ambrosia Voyeur, but being someone who pays half my salary for health insurance due to my pre-existing condition and has endured years of costly medical treatment to attain a lifetime of expensive medication with no end in sight...

Yeah, you'd be surprised the things you'd consider doing when you have no access to health care that you desperately need. When you think about it in an abstract kind of way, of course it doesn't make sense to get married for health care. That IS absurd. But... when you've got no access to insurance and you're paying buckets of money simply to stay alive... it starts seeming way less crazy.

I've gone the route of taking an unappealing job for health care, and that has its merits, but it's not always practical. There are fewer and fewer jobs available and not all of them have benefits. I can see why turning to marriage would have an appeal for someone who had no other access to insurance.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 1:36 PM on February 19, 2010 [5 favorites]


I would also rather be sick or move to another country or turn to a life of crime than marry for imperfect reasons.

I'm curious what would constitute a perfect reason. As I mentioned upthread, financial benefits have historically been considered a good reason for a marriage. I'd argue that they're possibly the best reason, particularly when those financial benefits are necessary to maintaining one's health.

I don't know if my opinion is widely shared on this issue, but I think that, given everything that goes along with it, marriage should be reserved for the sorts of things that one can't do without getting married. I, along with most people that I know, am perfectly capable of loving my partner without entering into a contract with her by which we are considered a single entity for certain legal and financial considerations. I am not, however, capable of providing her health insurance without marrying her. Health insurance, then, is one of the most valid reasons for a marriage. Imperfect, maybe, but as close to perfect as any other reason that I've heard.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 1:36 PM on February 19, 2010 [5 favorites]


But I'm just talking about what the law says. The law doesn't say: gays can't get married.

Yes, but as you said, and what was asked recently in Perry v. Schwartzenegger, is to what degree is all of this motivated by animus?

I'm biased, obviously, but there was a very clear factual demonstration in that court case of what underpins laws like DOMA. I provided another example.

Gender is a superficial basis for discrimination, and it is convenient because it allows bigots who side with Prop 8 etc. to claim they aren't bigoted. They can glibly toss off wordplay like "gays can get married" (*), while at the same time covering up that their prejudices are entirely meant to prevent same-sex couples from getting married because of sexuality, not gender.

And to the extent that it's not to keep two people of the same gender apart because of their gender, it is necessary and important to point out the factual heart of what motivates these discriminatory laws, whether here on Metafilter or in a federal courtroom.

(*: To be absolutely clear, I am not accusing you or idiopath of bigotry with this statement.)
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:36 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Tangentially, does anyone else secretly hope that same-sex marriage WILL destroy the institution of marriage? Or am I the only one who likes marriage but hates the institution of marriage?

I mean seriously. This whole thing is fucking bullshit. There's no reason my company couldn't have given MuddDude health benefits without a stupid piece of paper.
posted by muddgirl at 1:37 PM on February 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


Can we agree that everyone has equal rights to enter into a sham marriage for insurance purposes, regardless of sexual orientation?
posted by brain_drain at 1:38 PM on February 19, 2010


No, don't cloud the issue when we have such a strong position! It's nitpicky, I know, but it really bothers me when SSM supporters make sloppy statements that play into the hands of SSM opponents.

I'm guessing that the vast, vast majority of those who oppose same-sex marriage and love to nitpick at semantics used to advocate for same-sex marriage are not actually people who are going to change their minds if we change our semantics.

I mean, really. If we all simultaneously changed our argument to "it's gender discrimination to not allow gays and lesbians to marry their partners!" rather than "It's homophobia that makes it so gays and lesbians can't marry their partners!" are you really convinced that these nitpicky people are going to be all "OH! Shit! You're so right! Now I support same-sex marriage!"
posted by rtha at 1:41 PM on February 19, 2010


cortex: And then I needed my wisdom teeth out, and my shitty permatemp job wasn't gonna help out in the least.

But... but... I thought you liked moderating us.

plus you know, Matt still reads this site sometimes
posted by msalt at 1:42 PM on February 19, 2010 [7 favorites]


I have lived with a man for a long time who has very serious epilepsy and isn't my husband. I've given it thought, ok? I didn't say marrying for health care was crazy, but it's against my principles. I have massive problems with the institution of marriage as it currently exists, obviously.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:43 PM on February 19, 2010


But... but... I thought you liked moderating us.

Different job, natch. It was getting laid off FROM that shitty old job that gave me the free time to start really obsessing about Metatalk and write songs about the site and so on and etc. And it was being married that made getting thus laid off not such a disaster as it might have been, since I didn't have to do any hoop jumping to keep my coverage.

posted by cortex at 1:47 PM on February 19, 2010


radiosilents and i will be together for the rest of our lives. we love each other deeply and since we got together there hasn't been a moment of doubt. having said that, the only reason marriage got put on the table for discussion was health insurance and ease of running the household.
posted by nadawi at 1:51 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


whenever the state of American healthcare comes up, or any of the things related to it, i am gobsmacked. I live in England and we have the NHS. and i know some things can cost a lot of money even on the NHS, and there are a multitude of problems (MRSA, wastefulness, targets) if i had a heart attack in the street tomorrow and ambulance would come and take me to hospital where i would be (hopefully) mended. all totally free.

(well ok, we pay via income tax etc, but at POS it is free)
posted by marienbad at 1:54 PM on February 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't know why you assumed I was an illiterate for holding an atypical point of view for a political progressive person,

woah woah woah. I think I got off on the wrong foot. so sorry about that. I did not assume you were an illiterate. I DID think it possible that, typical of all mefites (myself included) you may not have given the link a full persual, but I didn't assume it was necessarily the case. If I came across otherwise, I'm sorry.

my entire intention, though I may have come across really really badly, was just to say "I think it's not fair to contrast her situation with being a romantic." I know you're not an illiterate, a jerk, or whatever. I made a quick one-off comment to get that point across, and didn't intend to rile you up or imply anything about you.
posted by shmegegge at 2:00 PM on February 19, 2010


It might seem silly to us, but they're actually serious and have a lot of power.

Actually, the truth is that the condition A, where "it can seem silly to us," and the condition B, where those silly sillies have a lot of serious power to do a lot of serious harm to a lot of serious people, can both exist simultaneously without risk of contradiction or mutual exclusivity. Seriously.
posted by blucevalo at 2:04 PM on February 19, 2010


The gender discrimination argument in favor of same sex marriage actually came before the Canadian supreme court, iirc, and it failed. I forget why. But basically three or so same sex marriage cases failed before one succeeded. The one that succeeded was in now way a better or stronger case than the ones that failed, it was just brought at the right cultural moment in front of the right set of judges.

Practically there is a lot to what Blazecockpileon and others are saying. But it is *also* true that this is a form of gender discrimination that has no place in a country that purports to treat its citizens equally without regard to gender (unfortunately still no ERA in the States, right?) So thank goodness Canada has SSM now. Next step - get gender off birth certificates!
posted by Salamandrous at 2:06 PM on February 19, 2010


no worries, shmegegge, I think I was taking advantage of our mutual respect to gleefully smack you down here. you're totally right on (as usual) as far as I'm concerned, just not about inferring I didn't rtfa. the nerve! marriage or death is a fucked up scenario and I'd be a conscientious objector from action on the whole corrupt matter, or at least so I think. I get that these "principles" are trite bullshit from the POV of people who are suffering, and therefore, I should really not be here. I value the rights of the sick and the well alike to their autonomy, however they define it or perserve it.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 2:14 PM on February 19, 2010


I do not think Americans are ready to accept the cost of universal coverage

Americans pay much more than other developed nations, and get much less for it. I'd be ready to accept the savings from universal coverage.
posted by Zed at 2:22 PM on February 19, 2010 [16 favorites]


the nerve!

the gumption! how dare I!
posted by shmegegge at 2:26 PM on February 19, 2010


The Microsoft thing is a good extreme example (I used to work there too), but really a lot of jobs that also pay very well have good healthcare. But that's the big issue --- the people with good health plans are the people who least need it (while it would be painful to have to pay all my health costs out of pocket, I actually could do it --- whereas most uninsured people have no option but debt/bankruptcy). Even among the insured, the quality of the health plan is fairly proportional to the overall pay/benefits package.

(which is why I support HCR even though it's certainly not going to help me, as my employer would probably be hit with much higher taxes)
posted by wildcrdj at 2:40 PM on February 19, 2010


cortex It was getting laid off FROM that shitty old job that gave me the free time to start really obsessing about Metatalk and write songs about the site and so on and etc. And it was being married that made getting thus laid off not such a disaster as it might have been, since I didn't have to do any hoop jumping to keep my coverage.

totally this. because while three blind mice was arguing how americans would never go for the kind of taxes it takes to have single payer, and spicynuts was arguing well maybe they would because disasters and what if you got fired or your company was evil and unethical, it came to me - we can only talk about the dire need for universal health care because at this point it's impossible to fantasize in any positive (as opposed to not-negative) fashion how single payer would revolutionize our society.

if all you had to do was pay taxes, you could take more risks. you could do a job you loved that paid a lot less. you could take a flyer on some entrepreneurial venture. you could invent something. you wouldn't have to get a degree you hate to get a career you hate just so you could make sure you could pay for any illness or injury you might or might not get.

school would get easier and more fun, and families would fight less, because then you wouldn't have to worry if you kid (or spouse) went to art school instead of law school. and I'm totally with nestor_makhno about how passing health care reform would preserve the sanctity of marriage. it sure would go a long way, all though not as far as recognizing that marriage is a civil right, no fucking way around it.
posted by toodleydoodley at 2:59 PM on February 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


Tangentially, does anyone else secretly hope that same-sex marriage WILL destroy the institution of marriage? Or am I the only one who likes marriage but hates the institution of marriage?

I mean seriously. This whole thing is fucking bullshit. There's no reason my company couldn't have given MuddDude health benefits without a stupid piece of paper.
posted by muddgirl at 4:37 PM on February 19 [1 favorite -] [!]


me.

I'm married, and I root against the Yankees and the (my) Gators. fuck all y'all hegemonic motherfuckers. let somebody else win compete for a change.
posted by toodleydoodley at 3:02 PM on February 19, 2010


I think that the US economy is held back in hard-to-measure ways by people clinging to health insurance.

How many folks would move to a job that suits them much better? How many bad bosses would lose all their talent? How many people would start small companies that hire people now and might get big?

Sure wish Democrats could figure out how to make this argument though.
posted by msalt at 3:02 PM on February 19, 2010 [8 favorites]


Next step - get gender off birth certificates!

There's no real reason to remove identifying information from birth certificates.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 3:13 PM on February 19, 2010


There's no real reason to remove identifying information from birth certificates.

Birth certificates are not a form of identification.
posted by muddgirl at 3:16 PM on February 19, 2010


Birth certificates are not a form of identification.

Unless you're a sitting President.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:17 PM on February 19, 2010


Could someone please (this is not hamburger-flavored snark) explain to me what is meant by, "The institution of marriage"?

Because I see people saying they like being married but not "the institution of marriage" and others saying that people who are in love but then decide to get married are getting married for "imperfect reasons" and now I'm not sure I know where any of you are coming from.

I guess, being 40+, I have a very different view of marriage than the kids do these days!
posted by misha at 3:21 PM on February 19, 2010


Birth certificates are not a form of identification.

I never said they were. That doesn't mean there's a need to remove identifying information from them.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 3:21 PM on February 19, 2010


There's no real reason to remove identifying information from birth certificates.

Birth certificates are not a form of identification.
posted by muddgirl at 6:16 PM on February 19 [+] [!]


according to the state of Florida, for the purpose of obtaining a driving license or state ID, they are one of five forms of primary identification

btw, (derail) if you really want to see red, ID-wise, excessive burden-wise and etc, you should check out the new federal standards for name change under Real ID. if you're a person who has married five times but never taken a spouse's name (ie a man), your life will not change. if you are a person who has married five times and taken a spouse's name each time (ie a woman), you will need to provide, in addition to a certified copy of your birth certificate, a certified copy of your marriage certificate for each marriage that caused a name change. Those documents can cost from $40 - $100 each to reproduce.

I've linked the Florida checklist, but my DMV said this was new federal standard.
posted by toodleydoodley at 3:28 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Birth certificates are not a form of identification.

the DMV made it clear to me in no uncertain terms that they believe otherwise.
posted by shmegegge at 3:30 PM on February 19, 2010


Birth certificates are not a form of identification.

the DMV made it clear to me in no uncertain terms that they believe otherwise.


So did the airport this morning when my daughter was going through security.
posted by Big_B at 3:32 PM on February 19, 2010


The gender discrimination argument in favor of same sex marriage actually came before the Canadian supreme court, iirc, and it failed. I forget why. But basically three or so same sex marriage cases failed before one succeeded. The one that succeeded was in now way a better or stronger case than the ones that failed, it was just brought at the right cultural moment in front of the right set of judges.

Blazecock (and my) disagreement with Jaltcoh here actually points up an interesting subtlety in the gay marriage argument. Libertarian-leaning folks tend to argue that the state has no business deciding who (among consenting adults) should be able to marry whom, which begins to make the gender discrimination argument look like a politically clever one to use. But this argument for gay marriage is incoherent, I think, because marriage just is the state making people's private relationships its business. That's what marriage is. If you don't like that, you should be arguing against the legal institution of marriage (which is a perfectly sound argument to make).

Contrastingly, my argument for gay marriage would be that for as long as the state is going to endorse certain relationships — which I'm not at all sure it should, in principle — then I want it to endorse gay ones equally with straight ones. From this perspective, which I think is the only one that's ever going to succeed, it's totally nuts to confuse the issue by bringing in the entirely hypothetical right of millions of straight people to marry other straight people. Why make the fight so much harder and more confusing?
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 3:37 PM on February 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


By institution of marriage I mean the social, cultural, and legal aspects that privilege heterosexual marriage over any other adult relationship (specifically the exclusive-breadwinner exclusive-homemaker model). I really REALLY detest the fact that, since I was a tiny baby learning about the world, the message "Marriage is the Only Way for a Woman To Be Truly Fulfilled" has been constantly and consistently reinforced by nearly every medium. Or the message "The Only Stable, Worthwhile Family is a Married One". And so on.

That doesn't mean there's a need to remove identifying information from them.

Is "gender" as determined by a doctor at birth identifying of an individual? Has anyone ever been like "Oh man, these people are impossible to tell apart! Good thing I can see there genitals and can make a guess as to their Gender of Record! Otherwise we would be completely mixed up!"

Look, birth certificates are accepted as identification because we have to start somewhere. But they are really crappy forms of identification. They have a name, sex, and birth date. That's it. The agencies assume that, since it's sort of hard to get a birth certificate, it's close enough to be used as identification. I know I'm mincing terms here, but believe me this is sometimes really important. Like if you're getting a passport.
posted by muddgirl at 3:42 PM on February 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


Is "gender" as determined by a doctor at birth identifying of an individual?

Usually it ends up being so. I'm all for introducing opportunities to change what's listed there, but simply blanking an entire field that's useful for identifying most people is not going to improve birth certificates in general.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 3:46 PM on February 19, 2010


Usually it ends up being so.

Do you think, like, the parents wouldn't be able to tell if it wasn't written down?
posted by muddgirl at 3:48 PM on February 19, 2010


Do you think, like, the parents wouldn't be able to tell if it wasn't written down?

I'm sure that works if you're Chelsea Clinton, but my mom doesn't have the ability to issue me a passport. (Well, I guess I'm not sure about that. I haven't asked.)
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 3:52 PM on February 19, 2010


radiosilents and i will be together for the rest of our lives. we love each other deeply and since we got together there hasn't been a moment of doubt. having said that, the only reason marriage got put on the table for discussion was health insurance

Ditto.

Quite a big club, aren't we.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 4:12 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


One of my best friends got engaged last weekend. They have been together for several years. Lately she had been complaining to him that she was sick of not having dental insurance. However, she figured it might be months, even another year, before he asked her to marry him. He surprised her at dinner on Valentine's Day by getting down on one knee and popping the question. The first thing he said to her after the ring was on her finger: "Welcome to Blue Cross Blue Shield."

Ok going back to read the thread now, just wanted to share that because I thought it was cute.
posted by naoko at 4:16 PM on February 19, 2010 [10 favorites]


I have a close friend whom I've known for over 20 years who is gay. We have actually seriously discussed a marriage of convenience for financial reasons more than once. His reasoning is that our state isn't going to legalize same sex marriage anytime soon, so it's not like he's getting married, and I guess it works out pretty nicely for me since I'm one of those perpetually single people anyway.

I am self-employed and my insurance costs an arm and a leg. He has great insurance. I've spent the last few years cleaning up my credit whereas he is just starting to work on his. I make more money than he does and would be able to help him fix his financial situation if I could sponge off his insurance and then I could do stuff like adding him to my credit accounts to help boost his score. Combining our household income would let us both get ahead in the long run.

This is a conversation that happens between us a lot over a couple beers. I'm not sure where this falls on the scale of "America is kind of turning into a sad place to live" or anything, but I think the only thing that's really stopping us from doing it is that we're both kind of lazy about paperwork and then the inevitable WTF factor with our friends and family, since he's been out for a pretty long time.

Also, after my ex-husband found out, his head would probably explode and that would be a pretty awesome fringe benefit.
posted by howrobotsaremade at 4:17 PM on February 19, 2010 [14 favorites]


I am self-employed and my insurance costs an arm and a leg. He has great insurance. I've spent the last few years cleaning up my credit whereas he is just starting to work on his. I make more money than he does and would be able to help him fix his financial situation if I could sponge off his insurance and then I could do stuff like adding him to my credit accounts to help boost his score. Combining our household income would let us both get ahead in the long run.

This sounds like a committed relationship to me. get a prenup. congrats, etc., champagne all around. June?
posted by toodleydoodley at 4:23 PM on February 19, 2010


The only weddings I have attended in the last three years were for the insurance. If it meant I could pursue my goal of being self-employed, I'd do it, too.
posted by Foam Pants at 4:57 PM on February 19, 2010


You know, until just a few years ago I had no idea what characters in movies meant by 'benefits' when they talked about their jobs. Public health care had always been something that was *there*, something that I assumed existed everywhere, and to this day the lack of it still is a very foreign concept I have to warp my mind around every time it comes up for discussion.

My sister got bitten in the leg by one of her dogs a week ago and had to be taken by ambulance to a hospital. In the worst case she'll need to pay 20% of whatever fee she incurred but chances are FONASA will cover all her expenses because she's unemployed. It's mind-boggling that in the United States she'd need to pay *everything* even when she can't afford it at all.
posted by Memo at 4:58 PM on February 19, 2010


Because I see people saying they like being married but not "the institution of marriage" and others saying that people who are in love but then decide to get married are getting married for "imperfect reasons" and now I'm not sure I know where any of you are coming from.

Well, first off I second muddgirl's response to this. We're raised that marriage is the end-all-be-all of human existence, especially if you're female.

Second off, "the institution of marriage" is to some degree a set of boxes that one has to squish themselves into. Speaking as a chick, to get married would be saying to most people in our culture that I am Mrs. Hislastname (even if I make a big stink that I don't want to), I will operate as "The Wife" who does the cooking and the cleaning and writes the thank you notes and raises the children (and of course it's assumed those will happen). "The Husband" will work himself to death to be a provider, see the kids occasionally on weekends, bitch that I never give him enough sex and I ruined his life, go out with his buddies and bitch about family life. Yes, I can keep my name and not have kids and marry a dude who cooks and be the breadwinner, but that doesn't mean I won't have a whole lot of issues (i.e. fights) with the older generations that I'm not doing the traditional wifely roles. It's an uphill battle to not feel the pressure to fit into The Wife and The Husband boxes. And some folks wouldn't want to have to deal with that crap if not for health insurance (bringing it back to the original topic, hah).

I'm undecided if I'd ever want to get married, but man, I do NOT want to have to be "The Wife."
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:58 PM on February 19, 2010 [6 favorites]


as has been mentioned upthread, even though I know you support gay marriage and are not arguing against it, this sounds almost completely like playing word games. it is, in fact, helping to frame the debate in exactly the way gay marriage opponents want it to be framed because it is mired in semantics instead of simply talking about whether or not two people in love are allowed to be married to one another regardless of sexual orientation.

if you're really trying to help the gay marriage side of this debate, the way you're going about it is all wrong. please consider that.


Look, I've said what I think, and you haven't said anything to refute what I said. If you're not convinced by what I've said, you're not going to be convinced. But you're not going to convince me by just saying I'm wrong, when I know I'm right. It's not even my opinion: these are facts. What people are saying the law says, is not what the law says. They should be accurate rather than inaccurate. I don't know how to make it any more obvious.

Of course, "whether or not two people in love are allowed to be married to one another regardless of sexual orientation" is exactly what I am talking about.
posted by Jaltcoh at 6:35 PM on February 19, 2010


"I have a problem with the fact that I'm someone who works hard every day, and yet someone who is a drain on society and commits a crime can get better health care than me."

Then vote the bastards out!
posted by klangklangston at 6:37 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Given that I hear in my day job some wag petite offer the advice that gays can already get married, I like to recall a paraphrased quote from Anatole France: "The majestic quality of the law prohibits both the rich and the poor from sleeping under bridges, from begging in the street, and from stealing bread."
posted by klangklangston at 6:40 PM on February 19, 2010 [5 favorites]


There's no real reason to remove identifying information from birth certificate

Well, if you're committed to avoiding gender based discrimination, then there's no real positive use of the gender identification

And it can be a huge hurdle both logistically and emotionally for trans people, for example. And what about intersex people? They get shoved into categories that don't really fit them at all, and that's led to plenty of misery, so there are definitely negative implications.
posted by Salamandrous at 6:42 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, if you're committed to avoiding gender based discrimination, then there's no real positive use of the gender identification

False.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 7:21 PM on February 19, 2010


Accessible, affordable health care does not have to come from the government.


Also, better companies offer insurance to domestic partners. That's my current situation. Pretty nice.
posted by colinshark at 7:23 PM on February 19, 2010


And it can be a huge hurdle both logistically and emotionally for trans people, for example. And what about intersex people? They get shoved into categories that don't really fit them at all, and that's led to plenty of misery, so there are definitely negative implications.

This does not justify removing relevant information from all birth certificates as was proposed above. Plenty of demographic information that's in various government documents can be the basis of discrimination, but that doesn't justify stopping collection of this information.

Oh, and if you're committed to avoiding age-based discrimination, then there's no real positive use of the birth date on birth certificates.

I'm done with this derail.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 7:32 PM on February 19, 2010


I'm in Canada and i get $1000 worth of erectile dysfunction medication ( Cialis and Viagara ) with no out of pocket costs or co-pay...

That is all.
posted by dawdle at 7:39 PM on February 19, 2010


each year.
posted by dawdle at 7:39 PM on February 19, 2010


Okay, I've got my online match service business plan ready and I am now officially opposed to healthcare reform.
posted by effwerd at 8:17 PM on February 19, 2010


colinshark: Accessible, affordable health care does not have to come from the government. Also, better companies offer insurance to domestic partners. That's my current situation. Pretty nice.

It sounds nice, you're very lucky to have that. But where do you propose that affordable and accessible health care comes from instead?

I'm sorry, I'm really not trying to be all overly irritable and knee-jerky about your comment. But it strikes me as being uncomfortably too close to the smug argument that all those people without insurance should "just get better jobs." Like that would magically solve everything. If you live in a small town like I do that already has very high unemployment, those options are somewhat limited at this point in time.

Almost immediately after I filed the first claim ever on my insurance for something other than a routine physical, the premiums nearly quadrupled. And now that I've had a pre-existing condition (I had skin cancer, but a mild one and it's totally gone now), I'm probably going to be paying out the nose for as long as I am self-insured. And that's if they don't decide to arbitrarily drop me somewhere down the line like insurance companies are wont to do.

I guess I should just go get that job with a better company, huh?

So that thing I mentioned a few posts up about a marriage of convenience for the insurance? I was fairly serious- it's something I've considered. Because it would save me thousands of dollars a year. I'd happily give some of that savings back to my friend for the privilege of knowing that I don't have to worry about my coverage so much. Even though it makes me feel sort of crappy to think about resorting to something like that, given the meta-discussion about same sex marriage/domestic partnership benefits going on a little further up. Nobody really wins here.
posted by howrobotsaremade at 8:36 PM on February 19, 2010 [5 favorites]


"Accessible, affordable health care does not have to come from the government. Also, better companies offer insurance to domestic partners. That's my current situation. Pretty nice."

Well, bully for you, but the fact is that the system is set up so tens of millions of people have mediocre jobs with no benefits and that will never have benefits.

And when I say the system is set up this way, I meant that when unemployment falls below a certain level the government increases interest rates and does other things to slow the economy down and push the unemployment rate up again so salaries don't "inflate" - and this is no conspiracy theory, they openly discuss this in the Wall Street Journal.

So what's your plan for these tens of millions of people? "Don't get sick"?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:12 PM on February 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


What people are saying the law says, is not what the law says. They should be accurate rather than inaccurate. I don't know how to make it any more obvious.

I am not a lawyer, but I am interested in the law, particularly those areas which involve my rights and the rights of those I love. I honestly hope I don't frustrate you too much with my ignorance.

I accept that a literal reading of one of several laws, i.e. DOMA — particularly DOMA — codifies discrimination on the basis of gender and not sexual orientation. Based on an entirely literal reading.

I would ask you, as you are a lawyer, if these sorts of laws are entirely based upon discrimination based on gender, and that sexual orientation is irrelevant to the written word of these particular laws, why then did Ted Olson and David Boies spend so much time pursuing the question of whether there is animus towards gays and lesbians in Perry v. Schwartzenegger?

A literal reading of the law would allow Judge Walker to prevent Olsen and Boies from pursuing this seemingly irrelevant line of questioning, no? Animus towards gays and lesbians is entirely irrelevant to the literal question of discrimination on the basis of gender, laws which require absolutely no acknowledgment of sexual orientation.

If both the plaintiffs pursued this line of reasoning, and if the judge allowed it, then this seems to contradict a literal reading of the law as written, as you note. What resolves this apparent — or what seems apparent to me, admittedly, as a layperson — discrepancy?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:41 PM on February 19, 2010


Accessible, affordable health care does not have to come from the government. Also, better companies offer insurance to domestic partners. That's my current situation. Pretty nice.

AKA the "I've got mine, fuck you" line of argument.
posted by jokeefe at 11:17 PM on February 19, 2010 [15 favorites]


I knew someone in the early 90s who got married in a similar circumstance. He was dying, she had health insurance. For some reason, he had a life insurance policy but no health insurance.

So they got married, he got decent health care in the last few years of his life, she was named beneficiary of his policy.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 12:07 AM on February 20, 2010


Accessible, affordable health care does not have to come from the government.
Just to be clear, the federal government is not planning on running health care; instead the primary focus of HCR is to regulate the industry to prevent the most pernicious, discriminatory, and abusive practices that occur when the insurance industry is left to its own devices.

To put it another way, the free market will absolutely, positively not provide affordable health care to very large chunks of the population, e.g. people who are poor, old, have pre-existing conditions, etc. without government regulation.

Furthermore, I question your perception of what constitutes "affordable" health care. The United States pays nearly twice as much per capita as other western, industrialized nations like France and Great Britain. And somehow, for twice the amount of money, we still have not achieved universal coverage. About half of all bankruptcies in this country are caused by crippling health care expenses, and a majority of those going bankrupt from health care bills started out with health care insurance!
Also, better companies offer insurance to domestic partners. That's my current situation. Pretty nice.
This is true. The company I used to work for (in California) provided health care insurance to 'domestic partnerships' (live-in partners, regardless of their gender) - no marriage certificate required.

I had a fairly liberal co-worker/friend who started off supporting HCR, but eventually became so confused by all of the rhetoric from the GOP finally got fed up and became rather virulently opposed to HCR. He specifically stated that he loved the health care insurance his company provided, that it was affordable and covered him, his wife, and their newborn kid, and that he didn't want the government to mess with that. He wasn't willing to pay any more money to help cover people who didn't have insurance because 'he got his'.

Well, our company went out of business, and now he can't afford health care for his family even though COBRA is currently 1/3 its normal cost thanks to an Obama bill.

Unfortunately it seems like the majority of people in this country have adopted the same attitude - so long as I've got mine, screw everybody else. I realize that's effective politics and very profitable for corporations, but I wonder how long a nation can survive when its citizens are conditioned to be selfish and hate another another? Our electorate is practically up in arms trying to defend a system that costs twice as much as any other system, is nowhere near as good in terms of quality of care, but is hugely profitable for middlemen. We're basically cutting off our noses to spite our faces.

America has become the sick man of the world: physically, mentally, morally, economically, and politically. But the important thing is that we're really, really good at killing foreigners! USA! USA! USA!
posted by Davenhill at 12:13 AM on February 20, 2010 [8 favorites]


America has become the sick man of the world: physically, mentally, morally, economically, and politically.

Sicken globally, infect locally.
posted by telstar at 3:25 AM on February 20, 2010


This woman should really be focusing on a military man for her 'husband'. After all, the military is the One Untouchable that the superRight will never allow to go unfunded.

Years ago (Ray-gun era) I considered setting up a yenta service to match young women needing health care with carefree military men. It could be an easy process to sell, too:

- the military man can pocket the 'spouse allowance' for himself; the woman gets free health care, commissary, etc.

- living together can be avoided -- transfers can be an excuse ("I need to stay near my sick mother."), and deployments, TDY, etc.

- both have a ready excuse to avoid other entanglements ( 'I have this spouse that I can't divorce just yet')

- the whole plan is a great thumb-to-the-nose at the government, military, religiosity and pricks on the Right who interfere with everyone's lives

It is just another form of Traditional Marriage -- one that reflects all that we cherish and respect in this country ... survival.
posted by Surfurrus at 3:55 AM on February 20, 2010 [5 favorites]


If both the plaintiffs pursued this line of reasoning, and if the judge allowed it, then this seems to contradict a literal reading of the law as written, as you note. What resolves this apparent — or what seems apparent to me, admittedly, as a layperson — discrepancy?

I'm not a lawyer and I definitely don't want to overstate my expertise here so I hope others will address this too.

My understanding:

You're not limited to challenging a law based on its intent. In fact, for most regular court cases, it's not enough to challenge it based on its intent - to have standing to bring a case, you have to show actual harm, and there's no need for the actual harm, the intent, and the 'purely literal' reading of the law to be aligned. At all.

So a law that was intended to promote gender equality isn't protected by that against negative outcomes. A law that's not intended to promote gender discrimination isn't protected by that either, gender discrimination. The fact that a law incidentally creates harm based on gender doesn't protect from challenge based on that. But also, a law literally creates harm based on gender discrimination isn't protected from a challenge based on the unequal impact of the law on other people or groups of people. This is good since it opens more avenues for challenging unjust laws.

On the other hand, judges and courts are just people, and different arguments will succeed in front of different judges, or even in front of the same judges at different times. Lawyers and activists try to be strategic about which cases they bring based on which arguments, because a negative precedent is usually worse than none at all.

In fact, it seems that sexual orientation based arguments against laws that exclude ssm have been more successful than gender discrimination ones. That doesn't mean that one argument is juridically or ideologically more true or valid than the other, it means that one is more effective than the other - and each successful case encourages other similar ones. But arguing based on gender was a fantastic idea (at the time in Canada) because gender was listed as a protected category (against discrimination) and sexual orientation was not, and in my opinion, that argument really should have succeeded and if it had we might have had ssm in Canada a decade earlier. It was definitely worth a shot.
posted by Salamandrous at 5:06 AM on February 20, 2010


I would ask you, as you are a lawyer, if these sorts of laws are entirely based upon discrimination based on gender, and that sexual orientation is irrelevant to the written word of these particular laws, why then did Ted Olson and David Boies spend so much time pursuing the question of whether there is animus towards gays and lesbians in Perry v. Schwartzenegger?

Again, I specifically said: of course there's an anti-gay animus. I don't think anyone's questioning that. Without the animus, the laws would be changed so that there would be no more gender or sexual-orientation discrimination. But I consider gender discrimination to be a better description of what's fundamentally going on. After all, gender is what sexual orientation is all about; the whole concept of sexual orientation depends on gender.

The fact that lawyers in a particular case spent a long time making an argument doesn't really mean much. It could just mean they were using a kitchen-sink strategy because they didn't know which arguments the judge would be convinced by.

But there are a few reasons I would rather see the lawyers make an argument based on gender discrimination:

1. It's easier to argue that a law expressly discriminates against a group than that the real-world consequences are to have a disparate impact on a certain group.

2. Gender discrimination receives a much higher level of "scrutiny" under the Equal Protection Clause. To defend the constitutionality of a statute that discriminates based on sexual orientation, all you have to do is show that there's a "rational basis" for the law, and courts almost always conclude that a law does have a rational basis. Now, the Supreme Court could change this standard, but that seems unlikely. A lower court could change it, but that would be practically inviting the Supreme Court to hear the case (grant cert) and probably reverse the decision. (I hate to say it, but gay-rights supporters probably shouldn't want the SSM issue to reach the Supreme Court anytime soon.)

3. For all the reasons I gave in my earlier comments, I simply find gender discrimination to be a more accurate description of what's really going on, and it's better political strategy because it doesn't open you up to the "But they can get married!" rebuttal. A judge who's deciding the issue might also feel unconvinced that there really is sexual-orientation discrimination because, after all, they can get married, and the government doesn't really keep track of people's sexual orientation anyway. That said, if the sexual-orientation discrimination argument convinces judges to interpret the Equal Protection Clause to compel SSM, I'd be overjoyed. But I think it's a losing argument. And even if I'm wrong and it's a winning argument, that still wouldn't change anything I've said about what the law really does. (I certainly don't feel bound to agree with judges' or lawyers' descriptions of the world.)

By the way, I actually find it offensively exclusionary when people say the law is simply that "gays can't get married." Why focus on the very small percentage of the population that identifies as "gay"? The law doesn't apply to a very small percentage of the population -- it applies to everyone. It doesn't just tell you you can't marry a man; it tells me I can't marry a man. Now, you can say, "But you're straight, so it doesn't really apply to you," but how do you know I'm telling the truth about being straight? How do you know I'm not bisexual? It's never possible for anyone to definitively say that a supposedly straight (or gay) person is not bisexual; it's just not possible to read people's minds. So, what does the law say about bisexuals? Nothing, because the law says nothing about sexual orientation (bisexual, gay, straight, or what-have-you) at all.
posted by Jaltcoh at 6:16 AM on February 20, 2010


(I posted that before I read Salamandrous's comment, which makes a similar point in the last paragraph.)
posted by Jaltcoh at 6:19 AM on February 20, 2010


I just thought of another way to look at it: sometimes it's called "gay marriage" and sometimes it's called "same-sex marriage." Which is a better label? Well, "gay marriage" is sort of better because it's easier to say. But actually, I wish everyone would call it "same-sex marriage." "Gay marriage" is a misnomer if it implies that the issue is just about a specific segment of the population that we can put a neat label on. "Same-sex marriage" is the more accurate description: it's marriage between two individuals of the same sex. I don't so much care who's "gay" or "bisexual" or "straight" -- all I want is for a man to be able to marry a man, and for a woman to be able to marry a woman. Describing this as "gay" just strikes me as wrong, since it's an open question whether the people in such marriages consider themselves "gay" or "bisexual" or who-knows-what.
posted by Jaltcoh at 6:27 AM on February 20, 2010


"Gays can't get married."
"I don't have an argument that everyone is allowed to marry. It's just a fact."


Oh for crying out loud.

Let me start out by saying I am a semanticist and let me assure you that especially in the legal world, there is no such thing as "just semantics" -- pinning down the exact meanings of words and the sentences they form can often be a pivotal part of a court case, and linguists are frequently hired as expert witnesses in court cases for this very reason.

The issue in this thread is whether there is a fact of the matter about the phrase "gays can't get married". The problem is that there are (at least) two types of predication in play here: distributive and collective. The difference is easy to see in these examples:

(1) Chris and Robin belched.
(2) Chris and Robin collided.

The verb (1) typically receives a distributive reading, meaning that its paraphrase is (something like) "Chris belched and Robin belched" and these event didn't have to occur at the same time, in the same room, etc. The verb in (2) typically has a collective reading, meaning that it is very difficult to paraphrase it as "Chris collided, and Robin collided, but not with each other". The collective reading is that Chris and Robin collided with each other.

The verb phrases marry or get married, especially when predicated of a plural subject, like 'gays' or 'Chris and Robin' or 'my parents', receives a collective reading, implicating that the individual members of the plural subject marry each other.

So it turns out that this phrase ("Gays can't get married") is ambiguous between two meanings, and context, in almost every case, clearly singles out the meaning that gays can't get married to each other. One could argue that the collective reading is not necessary, but it is definitely not accurate to say that it is a fact that the sentence is false. This is because one of the readings (which is arguably the most salient and most frequently intended) is the collective one, and it is sadly true in most states in the US.
posted by tractorfeed at 6:57 AM on February 20, 2010 [6 favorites]


I understand your semantic point, tractorfeed, but it has nothing to do with what we're talking about.

"Gays can't get married" could mean 1 of 2 things:

(1) "A gay person cannot marry anyone."

or

(2) "Two gay people cannot marry each other."

Neither of those is correct. Statement #2 both overstates and understates the problem. It overstates the problem because a gay man and a gay woman can marry each other. That would be an absurd defense of the law, because those people don't want to marry each other -- they want to marry the people they want, and I think they should be able to.

Statement #2 also understates the problem because, even assuming that you mean "A gay man cannot marry a gay man, and a gay woman cannot marry a gay woman" (which is a pretty strained interpretation, but let's go with it), that still doesn't describe the situation in this country. There are male-male couples who want to get married even though they might not both be "gay." Same with female-female couples. And the government doesn't look into whether they're "gay" or "bisexual" or anything else. The government just needs to know that they're a man and a man, or a woman and a woman, and then the government (except where SSM is legal) says, "No, you can't do want you want to do."
posted by Jaltcoh at 7:44 AM on February 20, 2010


My SO and I don't believe in marriage and never plan to marry. But if he continues having issues with recieving the health care he requires to get on with his life (long story) we may very well have no choice but to get married. No, not romantic, but what contract is?

Idealized notions about romance isn't the problem. Going against our beliefs to get him proper coverage is.
posted by marimeko at 7:46 AM on February 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


Jaltcoh, thanks for taking the time to answer my question.

The fact that lawyers in a particular case spent a long time making an argument doesn't really mean much. It could just mean they were using a kitchen-sink strategy because they didn't know which arguments the judge would be convinced by.

I think the fact that the argument was made at all, and that the judge allowed it, still seems to raise questions about your main premise, namely that a literal reading of marriage laws is exclusively a matter of gender discrimination.

I do understand that, in a courtroom, a better case might be made from sticking to the matter of gender discrimination. I have no expertise to say you're wrong here. This seems, however, a substantially different point than what you put forth originally.

It seems that as sexual orientation being at the heart of the discussion had in courtrooms suggests that, while the laws may say one thing, they may actually be another thing entirely.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:15 AM on February 20, 2010


a gay friend of mine and i often talked about marrying for health insurance benefits. the problem is, he'd be married to me, but living with his "husband" and i'd be living with my "wife" and our addresses would be different. that's a red flag to insurance companies these days and it was a minute possiblity that we'd lose the insurance anyway. it's just fucking redonk.

---

on the topic of this woman's website, it really needs to be copyedited and better designed.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 1:20 PM on February 20, 2010


Without getting into too much detail, I sympathize with this lady: I'm chronically ill, can't get private insurance, had my COBRA premium reduction negged by my ex-employers so am uninsured, require about $1200 more in prescription drugs each month than I receive in total in unemployment benefits, can't get Medicare/aid 'cause I have enough of a work history to be "not disabled" despite what my doctors and nervous system tell me, am $50K+ in debt from surgeries my shitty student health insurance didn't cover so am facing bankruptcy as soon as I can scratch together money to pay the lawyers... BUT AT LEAST WE DON'T HAVE SOCIALISM!

Socialized healthcare would mean that I wouldn't have to worry about any of that. I'd be able to concentrate on my education and work. I'd be a hell of a lot more productive, both for myself and for the economy. I wouldn't have to stay in horrible jobs just to keep the ability to see my doctors when I was feeling poorly. No more going off various meds for days at a time (and thus putting myself at a severe performance disadvantage for up to WEEKS at a time) until the next paycheck showed up.

But, you know, America something something self-reliance something something

posted by jtron at 3:33 PM on February 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


The government just needs to know that they're a man and a man, or a woman and a woman, and then the government (except where SSM is legal) says, "No, you can't do want you want to do."

so? I'm sorry, but I don't see how this ties back to your original point about ssm proponents playing into their opponents' hands. the whole point is that if steve A and Steve B want to marry one another, they can't. we all know this. that is the effect of legislation that says a man cannot marry another man. that is what we're fighting against, and that is what the national debate on the matter is focusing on.

what precisely is the problem? you acknowledge that the law has an anti-gay animus, even if its letter doesn't mention sexual orientation. that's what's important. as has been mentioned before, getting bogged down in the details you're focusing on reframes the debate to ground that opponents are more comfortable fighting on. you still haven't given a good reason why we'd want to do that, except for some notion that conservative commenters on blogs like it when we speak imprecisely, which isn't a strong motivator to reframe the debate in a way that satisfies ssm opponents.
posted by shmegegge at 4:32 PM on February 20, 2010


"and it's better political strategy because it doesn't open you up to the "But they can get married!" rebuttal."

And the rebuttal to that is "To the person they love?"

At which point the answer is "No."

Not much of a rebuttal if it takes five words to show it for the farce it is.
posted by klangklangston at 6:17 PM on February 20, 2010


So, anyone want to get married?

Come on, I've enspousenated like fifty of you. One of you has to have a job.
posted by loquacious at 7:09 PM on February 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


I exist because my dad wanted to get on my mother's dental insurance policy. Then a couple years later they figured well, they were already married, might as well have some kids, too...
posted by Jacqueline at 5:59 PM on February 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I exist because my dad wanted to get on my mother's dental insurance policy. Then a couple years later they figured well, they were already married, might as well have some kids, too...

see? Nation-building!
posted by toodleydoodley at 6:33 PM on February 21, 2010


"Marrying out of a need to secure one's financial well-being is neither crazy nor unbelievable. It is one of the most historically common reasons to marry, and in my opinion, it's still one of the best."

Indeed. It's no wonder corporate interests and those aligned with them want to "preserve traditional marriage" rather than have you enjoy the full range and freedom of financial arrangements available to business entities.

Wait, what?
posted by Eideteker at 5:28 PM on February 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


A moose once bit my sister.
posted by gern at 11:31 PM on February 22, 2010


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