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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Economic Stimulous Bill Discriminates Against Gays

Chris Crain:

We are a gay family. I'm the breadwinner and my partner is a full time student. His tuition is one of the biggest items in our family budget, and it certainly is a drag in these tough economic times. So you can imagine my elation when I heard President Obama describe the $2500 tax credit in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for the purpose of helping families offset the cost of tuition for education.

Then I started looking into this. I contacted my accountant, my Congressman and various gay organizations to see exactly how my family could participate in this provision of the stimulus bill. The answer is, we can't.

It appears that the definition of family in this bill is not defined broadly enough to include LGBT families. Without a broader definition of family, the tax credit would have to claimed via the normal mechanism of filing for it on the1040 federal income tax return form. But by law, our relationship is not recognized by the federal government, we cannot file jointly and I cannot claim him as a dependent, even though he really is. This #%@##!

It isn't as though it's impossible to include gay families in legislation. After 9-11, the fund that was set up to re-imburse families for their loss in the Twin Towers collapse was written broad enough so that partners of gays could also be eligible for the money. Congress knows how to do this. Why didn't any of our Democratic friends in Congress or our LGBT organizations think of gay families in the stimulus bill? What are all those lobbyists for if not to protect our interests as laws are being made?

Where the heck was the Human Rights Campaign? Legislation passed during the Bush administration that was inclusive for gay couples. Are we going backwards under the Obama administration?