a bird and a bottle

No Same Sex Marriage? In Maine, Couples Adopt.
March 24, 2007, 8:10 am
Filed under: civil rights, law, news, news & views, sexuality

two brides
There’s an interesting editorial in the NY Times today about a problem that has become central to a lawsuit between an heir to the IBM fortune and her former partner of 14 years. This couple, like perhaps thousands of others in Maine, tried to approximate some of the rights that straight couples get when they marry by having one partner adopt the other. Legally. Maine state law allows one adult to adopt another. When gay couples do this, it allows them to create heirship rights in their partners, which would not otherwise exist between two non-related adults outside marriage.

The problem? The couple, Olive Watson and Patricia Ann Spado, broke up only 1 year after Watson adopted Spado. And now Spado, as the heir to Watson, would like to inherit part of Ms. Watson’s late grandfather’s estate (he was the founder of IBM). Lawyers for the Watson trust claim that Maine’s law was not intended to include same sex couples. Spado’s lawyers argue that the language of the law is clear and third party moral judgments should not color its application.

What does the Times make of all this?

While the outcome is hard to predict, the lesson is clear: gay people who want to protect their families should not have to resort to adult adoptions. Nor should they be confined to separate and unequal new legal regimes, like civil unions, or rely on a patchwork of contracts, some of dubious enforceability. One benefit that comes with marriage is a universally understood framework for formally dissolving relationships and settling financial matters.

Yep. Exactly. Allowing people to have equal marriage rights (long overdue) is the foundation that allows them to protect all of their other ancillary rights.

(image source)


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