Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Politics is as personal as ever, day 9: I'm done being fringe.

          I don't usually think of my life as very glamorous.  I mean, it's getting better; I'm not elbow deep in diarrhea anymore.  But I am still making daily trips to the compost heap, and wiping up puddles of urine left in the bathroom by boys with bad aim.  And making dietary-need specific meals for each family member.  And sweeping up heaps of quinoa off the dining room floor.  And mowing the lawn.  And vacuuming dehydrated apple cores out the minivan.  And managing a revolving door of emotional collapses (mostly not my own).  So it's not exactly a luxurious lifestyle.
          But if you ask the IRS they will tell you differently.  They will tell you that I, in my ripped jeans and stinky old t-shirt, am luxury personified.  I am the diamond on the ring.  The dark chocolate hot fudge atop the sundae.  The golden cufflinks fastened tidily at the wrist.  I am fringe.
          See, for the last three years we have been "fortunate" enough that Darling Virgo has worked for employers who offer "domestic partnership" benefits.  So while I have been home wringing the diarrhea out of the cloth diapers, I have had health insurance through her employer.  We pay a portion of the insurance premium, and are always thankful to have it around, especially when I used to get those nasty infections in my finger from all that diaper wringing.  Sounds pretty normal, right?
          But here's the kicker: because we are not married, the federal government considers the money DV's employer pays toward my premium: a fringe benefit.  As if I were the English nanny, and the white-capped maid, and the chipper groundswoman all rolled up into one handsome luxury.  Funny.
          It would be funny if it didn't cost us $200 a month.  That's right.  Every month DV's employer pays $600 toward my insurance premium, and then we pay $200 in taxes on that $600.
          How about that?  How about $2,400 a year we could be saving towards our children's college tuition.  Or our retirement.  Or paying off school loans.  Or buying something we don't need and stimulating the economy.  $2,400 a year!
          And if that weren't crazy enough, Darling Virgo works for the government!  The city government pays $7,200 of my health insurance premium every year, and then, even though the federal government claims to have a stake in making sure everyone's insured, I pay them another $2,400 for... for... for... nothing!  Ultimately my health insurance--something the government wants everyone to have--costs us all $2,400 more than it needs to.
          And why?  The government that considers me a fringe benefit because I am not married to DV is the very same government that refuses to recognize my marriage.  That's why!
          It's like the inverse of a loop hole.
          And I'm all for taxes.  I love taxes.  Because my daughter goes to a really fantastic public school.  And because I find it convenient to drive on paved roads when I do my weekly grocery run.  And because I appreciate fair and accessible voting processes.  And because I'm glad public health nurses like DV are out there helping people get control of their diabetes.  There are a million great ways to spend my tax dollars. 
          But to collect more tax dollars from me because you won't allow me to marry my partner?  That's a crime.  The choice is clear: we can vote to perpetuate this crime, or we can vote to end it.  It might not mean that much to your family, but to mine it means $200 a month.

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