Thursday, January 14, 2010

New year, and some new thoughts

2009 was a big year. Best of times, worst of times kind of a year but big, and so I am starting this blog again with some fresh issues, new ideas and (hopefully) useful thoughts.

In Washington State, the voters passed Referendum 71, which affirmed the previously enacted extensions to the Domestic Partnership Act. I wrote about the first installment of that below and stated some poblems, many of which still haunt the laws. I will write more on Referendum 71 in a little bit.

I have been asked to write about marriage more. Interesting that a blog about sex-positivity should move in that direction. To me, marriage is not at all a holy or sacred thing. It is not about children and procreation. It is not about sex or love. Why do I say this? Because that's what the law says:

"Marriage is a civil contract between a male and a female who have each attained the age of eighteen years, and who are otherwise capable." RCW 26.04.010.

Marriage is like taking a mortgage loan, except that the law mandates a gender binary. The Revised Code of Washington says nothing about religion, love, sex, procreation or romance between the individuals. That's all made up.

By entering into a marriage, gender binary couples (M/F) gain rights and privileges not granted to unmarried individuals, non-gender binary couples, undefined gendered partners and multiple partner families. Most, if not all of these benefits and rights affect property rights. Most if not all of these rights and benefits such as hospital visitation, health care and financial decision making, custody arrangements and so on, can be managed by separate contract or designation.

When a marriage is dissolved in a court of law, the purpose is to terminate the above obligations and rights, and to dived up the community property. That's religious or societal condemantiont, no broken hearts, frozen libidos or dried up roses.

"Oh but what about the kids" I hear the voices screaming. Child custody is a whole separate thing. Parenting is an obligation that exists without marriage, and that survives a dissolution. You can divorce your spouse, but you cannot divorce your co-parent. The same is true of any parenting situation. If you contribute egg or sperm, you are legally responsible...married or not. I get that this is a vast oversimplification, but there are lots of people who write about child custody and obligations.


What about religion, love, sex and romance? Why are those even part of the discussion? Short answer...and this is where you all get to say that those things are added to each individual marriage contract by the parties. You heard me right...every marriage can be whatever the parties declare it to be, so long as they are each eighteen or older and of opposite genders. Like any contract there are limits, and you can go study them in the Restatement of Contracts at your local law library. Judges tend to get uncomforatable around these kinds of agreements...prenups and postnups and so forth...but they exist.

Bottom line, there are structures for that.  All of it.  It takes creativity and sometimes money, but it can be done.  I call it "Life Planning" and have used that term for many years to describe the steps I like to take people through when they imagine coming together.

One of the first steps..."know thyself."  David Schnarch calls it "individuation" and writes eloquently about it. Passionate Marriage: Keeping Love and Intimacy Alive in Committed Relationships

His perspective is monogomist, and wise. 

About love...mixed with a bit of Christianity but with reasoanble restraint...The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts is Gary Chapman's system for feeding your partner(s) "love tank."

That's a start.  On with 2010.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Sex Ed and you

I'm a huge fan of medically accurate, comprehensive sex education in schools. I've lobbied for passage of legislation here in Washington that requires the Public Schools, if sex ed is to be taught, to teach it well and in accordance with curriculum guidelines crafted by the Department of Health and the State Superintendent of Public Instruction. NARAL ProChoice Washington has them posted.

Unfortunately there is no funding for this mandate, and so an organization called the Healthy Youth Alliance has been formed to help. The Healthy Youth Alliance represents a broad coalition of parents, teachers, youth advocates, health professionals, and state agencies. The coalition, includes: the WA State Department of Health; the WA State Medical Association; the Association of Washington School Principals, the Washington Association of Local Public Health Officials, the WA State Parent Teacher Association; the American Academy of Pediatrics, WA Chapter; the School Nurse Organization of WA; American Civil Liberties Union of Washington (ACLU); the Governor's Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS, Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice Washington, the Northwest Women's Law Center and the Safe Schools Coalition.

The Healthy Youth Alliance is a statewide coalition working to increase the number of youth in Washington who receive effective, researched sexual health programs with the ultimate goal of decreasing the rates of STDs, HIV, unintended pregnancy, bullying and dating violence. They offer teachers and school administrators training and resources that ensure students receive accurate, research-based sexual health information.

I'm working now to create a fund raiser to help in this work. I'd love help, so if anyone out there is inspired, drop me a line.


Thursday, July 19, 2007

Domestic Partner Registration - Washington

If you are residents of the State of Washington, are an unmarried same sex couple or an unmarried couple one member of which is 62 or over, you can begin registering your Domestic Partnership with the State on July 23, 2007. The Office of the Secretary of State, Corporations Division will begin accepting registrations on Monday July 23, 2007; the first business day after the law becomes effective. Follow this link for more information.

A brochure is available from Equal Rights Washington that outlines your rights and benefits under the new Domestic Partnership law. It also points out several situations where registering might be inadvisable.

Most importantly, this new law does not provide legal status outside of Washington State at this time.

...registered domestic
partners still need wills, powers of
attorney, second-parent adoptions
and other legal planning. You should
consult an attorney about your needs.
This is a big step, but on a long road.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

True Stories

I'm angry and sad. There are (plenty of) dark corners of the United States where, despite the clear intention of consenting partners, parents are forced to endure separation, death and loss alone, children are denied legal benefits by a system that purports to protect "family values," and so-called "morality" is held above human decency.

It seems Florida hospitals are free to ignore the legally expressed desires and intent of anyone they wish. This story from the Olympian illustrates the effect of institutionalized hatred and fear.

A family from nearby Lacey, Washington was recently forced to endure the death of one parent without the ability to be present, comfort her and say goodbye. Worse yet, a parent was forced to die alone and separated from her partner and her children. This despite having taken the steps required to express the legal intentions of the parents. I am crushed thinking of the children of this couple. I am saddened imagining the fear, confusion and agony that this parent must have felt separated from her partner of 18 years as she died.

This is twisted and sick. It is proof of a systemic hatred that pervades the institutional culture in this country. It is the embodiment of fear, ignorance and self-loathing that is perpetuated by people who are out of touch with basic human needs.

Please, readers, do not let this stop you from preparing proper legal expressions of your intent. Carry notarized originals in your travel documents. Have an attorney or advocate who can support you if needed.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

40 Years of Marriage

Did you know that interracial marriage has only been legal in the United States (as a whole) for 40 years?

June 12, 2007 marks the 40th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Loving v. Virginia on June 12, 1967 which struck down the remaining interracial marriage bans in 16 states in the United States, ending race discrimination in marriage.

Click here to read the Loving v. Virginia decision.

See the Freedom to Marry website for details.

It's easy to think that things have always been this way, that today's struggles are based on age-old principles, but the reality is that much of what can be taken for grated as civil rights in this country have only been recognized for a few decades.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Yay Goddess of Java!!

She scooped me on this but it's right on point. Everyone needs to get their ducks in a row.

People who intentionally live outside of the default legal structure have an added responsibility to deal with their lives. I call it "Life Planning," and it consists of taking control of the direction of your life, even when that direction isn't nice to think about.

Death is certain, and if you think that society is brutal when you are living outside the box, think hard about what could happen if you die outside of it. Think of your parters and loved ones, your kids, those cool causes that you might want to support.

Did you know that in most states, if you die without a will, anyone can apply to administer your estate? In Washington, potential heirs and estate creditors get priority as personal representatives, that means if you are "single" your parents or the bank that you owe money to might have priority over your life-partner in distributing the assets you hold. Is that what you intend? If you have a minor child from a previous marriage, your child likely gets a big chunk of your estate, which would effectively be controlled by your X. Sound good to you?

My point is this, get over not wanting to plan. Live your own life and control your assets. Get some basic protection in place. See a lawyer or do some research and find out what you can do. Stop putting it off and just do it before the big, bad gummint does it for you.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

A Real Blog!

I was told by a friend that "it's only a real blog if you post like once a week." Here goes then.

I'm tired this week, finished up some cases and have a hearing tomorrow to prepare for. I'm trying to think how I can market better too. I need to reach out and (horror) get to know more people. I'm fairly new to Seattle and any suggestions would be welcome!

My friend Sierra Faye the Massage Freek sponsors a happy hour through Biznik and I missed it last Monday. I was in Vancouver BC and didn't get back into town until nearly midnight. I hate missing the event because it's specifically tailored to alternative and kink-friendly businesses.