Family with a Capital F

There’s this list of legal stuff gay moms have to do when they have a baby.  Ummm.  Yeah.  That.  Well, let’s just say we haven’t even really gotten started on the list yet.  Unless you consider “Give birth,” to be an item on the list.

We should:

  • Get second-parent adoption started, say, while you’re pregnant
  • Update wills
  • Make sure entire family is covered by somebody’s health insurance
  • Get life insurance
  • Sign new baby up for college savings plan

I’m sure there’s more.  And, yes, I guess I did one thing on the list.  So, I was looking through the brochure for the New York State 529 College Savings Plan, and I came across a part about how you can roll-over part or all of the savings from one person to a “Member of the Family.”  The quotes are there because those words are actually capitalized.  Then I found myself leafing through the book, looking for a definition of a Member of the Family.  Did they actually have a definition of “Family?”  What could it be?  I was horrified that perhaps by New York State definition, my family was not actually a Family with a capital F.  I’ll copy the list that I eventually found for you here:

Member of the Family

A “Member of the Family” of the Beneficiary is currently defined for purposes of section 529 as any person related to the Beneficiary as follows:

  • Father, Mother, or an ancestor of either;
  • Son, daughter, or a descendant of either;
  • Stepfather or Stepmother;
  • Stepson or stepdaughter;
  • Brother, sister, stepbrother, stepsister, half-brother, or half-sister;
  • Brother or sister of the father or mother
  • Brother-in-law, sister-in-law, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, father-in-law, or mother-in-law;
  • Son or daughter of a brother or sister;
  • Spouse of the Beneficiary or any of the individuals mentioned above; or
  • First cousin

Ugh.  That’s a whole lot of “steps” and “in-laws” to type.  On this list there is so much to do with legal marriage (“step” or “in-law”) and blood relationships (“half”).  Right now, in the eyes of the law, I am Trucker’s only legal parent.  So could I roll over any of Cakie’s vast fortune into Trucker’s account?  (He’s got about enough in there right now to buy him one credit at  community college.)  There was one more line at the bottom that made all the difference to me: A legally adopted child of an individual is to be treated as the child of such individual by blood. So, yes, since Cakie was legally adopted by me, that makes Cake and Trucker legal brothers in the eyes of the 529 College Savings Plan.

I ask you this, who else needs to go looking through any brochure to see if their family deserves a capital F?

And if I were to live in a state in which second-parent adoption is not legal for gay folks, well — here I’m getting flustered, because all I want to do is scream THAT’S NOT FUCKING FAIR!

In New York State, my honey and I are registered Domestic Partners.  This means we get five — yes a whopping five — rights as partners, as opposed to the over 700 rights legally-married folks like Britney Spears and that guy she married in Las Vegas get.  Four of them have nothing to do with us.  We can have those sex visits if one of us gets incarcerated.  We can stay on the lease if we live in the projects and one of us passes away, etc.  The reason we bothered to do it at all was so we could be on each other’s insurance.  I am grateful that both of our jobs recognize domestic partnerships for health insurance.  BUT, we have to pay income tax on the money we use to buy that insurance.  I call it the gay tax.  There is so much more that isn’t fair.  And we live in a state that is fairly kind to its gay citizens, at least in comparison to some other states.

My honey and I agreed a long time ago that we would get married when it becomes legal in New York.  Even though our neighbors to the east, MA and CT are more on the gay marriage up and up, we are waiting.  Which is why I had to go  to the march.

img_1515 I hope you were able to attend as well.  If not this one, maybe I’ll see you at the next one?

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8 Comments

Filed under family, gay marriage, LGBT

8 responses to “Family with a Capital F

  1. I think NY does allow second parent adoptions. At least, it does according to a new Yok Law school professor here: http://newyorklawschool.typepad.com/leonardlink/2008/new-york-trial.html

  2. Yes, yes. I adopted Cakie here in New York. What I meant to say is, if I were to live in a state where it is not possible — that would mean that according to the state (or at least the college savings plan brochure) my boys would not be considered brothers. That sucks. Never have I seen two boys who are such brothers.

  3. thank you for going… i had to be a responsible adult (read: i am too poor to call out and not get my weekend/shift pay in addition to my hourly rate) and go to work. i was there in spirit…

  4. reproducinggenius

    We also pay the gay tax. I have never had so many deductions from my paycheck as when I claimed my wife on my insurance. This is why when politicians talk about this being a state-by-state issue, I have to disagree. We need federal protection too.

    Great post. You’re such a smart cookie.

  5. That family with an F stuff pisses me off too. Something I have realized in the past couple of days is that people who are potential allies do not get all of those consequences – I have had more then 3 conversations since the election where people say at some point – “I had no idea” – as a community we have to get better at explaining the real effect. No question your boys are real brothers.

  6. alli k

    I think that L.Babypants is right that there is a lack of understanding among many non-gay gay rights supporters about the real life consequences of being a gay family. And it’s not surprising: if you are straight and yo do not have a friend or family member who confronts these types of problems, you would have no reason to be familiar with, say, the federal tax rules regarding exclusion of health insurance premiums from income.

    The lawyer in me feels compelled to point out that it’s not just gay people who, upon bringing a child into their family through whatever means, should do (or affirmatively choose not to do, based on their personal views and financial situation) several of the things on your list.

  7. Point taken, lawyer lady.

    But do the married folks ever have to wonder if their family officially counts?

    This illustrates a point where the word “marriage” is far more than a concept. I’m sure the 529 literature is not the only official document that makes no mention of civil unions. If one has a civil union, is that person legally considered a spouse? Will every official document in a state make its language more inclusive if that state allows civil unions? Or must we remain in limbo, constantly wondering if we are included?

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