Thursday, February 15, 2007

Kansas: "This isn't political; this is our lives."

By Diane Silver

One of the frustrations I faced when I was a newspaper reporter was the limitation of the news hole. That's the space each newspaper has for printing news. Too often the news hole was so small that details and important stories were lost.

Because I think people need to know the truth about Rep. Lance Kinzer's attempt to ban domestic partner registries, I'm going to post detailed accounts of some of the testimony from Thursday's hearing.

Among the most moving accounts came from Deb Taylor, a longtime Lawrence resident. Deb attended the hearing before the House Federal and State Affairs Committee with her partner Jennifer. This is their story in Deb's words.
Jennifer and I are well educated from Kansas universities. We are very financially stable, and we are aggressively saving for retirement. We are healthy and health conscious. Barring a serious lapse in judgment, we will never be in trouble with the law. We are good to our families. We're good neighbors and hard-working employees. we intend to spend the rest of our lives in Kansas.

To me it seems like we are the type of people that lawmakers and city leaders want in Kansas because we're smart, self-sufficient and healthy. Put bluntly, I cannot think of any government-paid program of which my partner and I take advantage. Barring a debilitating illness, I have serious doubts that we will ever need government assistance. In our case, we definitely give more than we take, and we ask for even less.

Jennifer and I don't spend a lot of time broadcasting our relationship to people outside of our family and friends. You would probably never know of our relationship except that we feel a need to let you know that we are against the bill to ban all possible domestic partner registries in Kansas, mainly because it goes against ensuring that the decisions Jennifer and I have made in private will be honored by those in authority if and when the need arises.

Ideally, for Jennifer and me, a domestic partner registry tells people who might need to know that she and I rely on each other for emotional, financial and physical support.

Jennifer and I are not making a political statement...This isn't political; this is our lives. My rights are being taken away before I even get them. Rep. Kinzer (the sponsor) tries to make it seem like this is a large political game. I don't see it as a game. It is our lives. It seems as if you are here to cheapen everything Jennifer and I hold dear.

Right now Jennifer and I carry our own insurance at our own jobs. If Jennifer ever loses her job for whatever reason, she is able to join my health insurance plan (as opposed to needing state aid) because my employer recognizes domestic partnerships. In this case, I can easily and immediately add her to my insurance (and even outside of the open enrollment period) If I have established with my employer -- Motorola -- that Jennifer and I are in a domestic partner relationship. This process is made tremendously easier when I can show them paperwork asserting that Jennifer and I have registered as domestic partners.

Jennifer and I believe that laws should be made to protect people. We do not know who this law will protect, or how it will make our lives better. At the same time, I do not see how my desire to provide for Jennifer (or her for me) is a detriment to any citizen in Kansas to the point that domestic partner registries should be forever banned As model Kansas citizens, we ask that you not make us feel like second-class citizens. Please realize that -- for people such as Jennifer and me -- what matters is making sure that the decisions we have made for each other are honored and that we are treated with fairness and respect.

No comments: