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I Do? Towards an (Alternative) Alternative Sexual Politics
Unformatted Document Text:  22 the United States more like “every other industrialized society” is another. Indeed, for each example of marital benefits Chauncey provides, one could conclude marriage is the problem, not that gay marriage is the answer. Chauncey writes that tax and inheritance law is “especially catastrophic for elderly couples who had bought homes together, or who sought to transfer assets between one another, or who faced staggering taxes when a widowed partner discovered the IRS did not recognize their joint ownership of property for inheritance tax purposes.” (75) This fact demands changing tax and inheritance law to recognize multiple forms of partnership and relationships of care and dependency (Fineman 2004, 108), it does not in good faith demand coercing elderly partners, whether gay, straight, or best friends, to marry. The 1986 Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) requires companies to temporarily continue to offer health care packages to terminated employees and their spouses, but not to unmarried partners. (Chauncey 2004, 73-4) Again however, the distributive marital system perpetuates unjust recognitive valuations that should give sexual minorities pause, not an unmitigated desires for inclusion. The 1994 Family and Medical Leave Act permits employees unpaid leave to take care of ill spouses or family members, but not to take care of unmarried partners. (76) Medicaid forces unmarried couples, unlike married couples, to sell a jointly-owned home before it provides health care support. (76) The option remains between redesigning these policies and social programs or bulwarking the institution that mechanizes them. Concludes Chauncey: The American social insurance system is rife with such financial and legal inequities … Making the marital relationship the central nexus for the allocation of both public and private benefits has only compounded the inequities. The exclusion of same-sex couples—who cannot gain the legal status, rights, and benefits of marriage—from those benefits has threatened those couples with impoverishment and insecurity. As the Stonewall generations of lesbians and gay men began to age, they began to notice. (77) Chauncey comes close to telling us how he really feels. The fight for same-sex marriage is expedient. But expediency is not synonymous with moral rectitude, and its costs are externalized not just to queers but to all unmarried folks. In The Autonomy Myth, Martha Albertson Fineman proposes “enforceable individualized bargaining” to replace state-sponsored marriage, wherein partners

Authors: Fischel, Joseph.
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the United States more like “every other industrialized society” is another. Indeed, for
each example of marital benefits Chauncey provides, one could conclude marriage is the
problem, not that gay marriage is the answer. Chauncey writes that tax and inheritance
law is “especially catastrophic for elderly couples who had bought homes together, or
who sought to transfer assets between one another, or who faced staggering taxes when a
widowed partner discovered the IRS did not recognize their joint ownership of property
for inheritance tax purposes.” (75) This fact demands changing tax and inheritance law to
recognize multiple forms of partnership and relationships of care and dependency
(Fineman 2004, 108), it does not in good faith demand coercing elderly partners, whether
gay, straight, or best friends, to marry. The 1986 Consolidated Omnibus Budget
Reconciliation Act (COBRA) requires companies to temporarily continue to offer health
care packages to terminated employees and their spouses, but not to unmarried partners.
(Chauncey 2004, 73-4) Again however, the distributive marital system perpetuates unjust
recognitive valuations that should give sexual minorities pause, not an unmitigated
desires for inclusion. The 1994 Family and Medical Leave Act permits employees
unpaid leave to take care of ill spouses or family members, but not to take care of
unmarried partners. (76) Medicaid forces unmarried couples, unlike married couples, to
sell a jointly-owned home before it provides health care support. (76) The option
remains between redesigning these policies and social programs or bulwarking the
institution that mechanizes them.
Concludes Chauncey:
The American social insurance system is rife with such financial and legal
inequities … Making the marital relationship the central nexus for the allocation
of both public and private benefits has only compounded the inequities. The
exclusion of same-sex couples—who cannot gain the legal status, rights, and
benefits of marriage—from those benefits has threatened those couples with
impoverishment and insecurity. As the Stonewall generations of lesbians and gay
men began to age, they began to notice. (77)
Chauncey comes close to telling us how he really feels. The fight for same-sex
marriage is expedient. But expediency is not synonymous with moral rectitude, and its
costs are externalized not just to queers but to all unmarried folks.
In The Autonomy Myth, Martha Albertson Fineman proposes “enforceable
individualized bargaining” to replace state-sponsored marriage, wherein partners


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