Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A serious campaign for same-sex marriage in NY, led by Governor Cuomo

It looks like New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is using his political capital to pass same-sex marriage. A new campaign organization, New Yorkers United for Marriage, will be launched today -- and it's led by consultants close to the Governor. He's putting his brand on this effort. And, Cuomo plays to win. Michael Barbaro at the NY Times has the scoop:
But Mr. Cuomo, who has vowed a personal push to win passage of same-sex marriage this year, has instructed his staff members to oversee the campaign to ensure it runs smoothly.

In weekly meetings over the past four weeks, at the governor’s office in Manhattan, high-level aides to Mr. Cuomo have repeatedly pressed advocates to communicate to lawmakers and the public with one voice.

“If this gets done, it’s through coordination,” the governor’s top aide, Steve M. Cohen, has told the advocates, according to those who have participated in the Friday afternoon sessions.

To that end, four influential gay rights groups — the Empire State Pride Agenda, the Human Rights Campaign, Freedom to Marry and Marriage Equality New York — will form a single organization called New Yorkers United for Marriage.

The coalition is hiring Jennifer Cunningham, a veteran labor and media strategist who is close to the governor and has advised his campaigns. Ms. Cunningham and her firm, SKD Knickerbocker, will oversee the coalition’s media campaign and political strategy.
This is serious.

First, getting the groups to sacrifice their own brands for the greater cause is a critical step. We know how advocacy groups spend a lot of time trying to insure they can take credit -- or avoid blame. But, in New York, there will be one campaign with one goal: Passing marriage. I suspect that if any of the groups try to push their own agenda or brand, they'll be smacked back into line by the Cuomo crew.

Then, the Governor's team is basically running the show. They know how to do this kind of campaign. This is going to be an intense, sophisticated effort. The Governor is making it clear that passing same-sex marriage is important to him. And, he is the most powerful politician in New York, by far.

I'm impressed. It sounds like this will happen fast. So, get ready.
Today in "Living with DOMA"

Today I submitted our marriage license to HMS Employer Solutions, based in
Jeffersonville, Indiana. I did this as required by RASHP, a consortium of Rochester area school districts, to verify my husband, Kyle, is eligibile to be covered as spouse on my health care policy.

(It should be noted that the school district already has a copy of my marriage certificate on file which they accepted as proof of our marriage. So after 35 years with this benefit, worth thousands of dollars and untold peace-of-mind, I was finally given equality of contractual benefits.)
HMS requires an additional document dated within the last two months: A joint bank account statement, a joint household bill, joint mortgage payment or the front page of our federal tax return filed jointly. We have none of these as the mortgage and all bills are in my name. And because of DOMA (the so-called, Defense of Marriage Act) I am forced to lie and flle as single, under penalty of, ironically, perjury.

The HMS website proudly claims: HMS Employer Solutions has identified more than 60,000 ineligible dependents, saving millions of dollars for employers.
(Is it any of my former employers business how my mortgage is held or my bills are paid?)
I called HMS and explained the situation. After consultation with a supervisor, I was told “Your company does not recognize ‘domestic partnerships.’ I am not in a domestic partnership. I am married.

My employer had to offer me coverage under Martinez v Monroe County ( which was decided in favor of the defendant. Under this decision contractual benefits offered to married couples had to be offered to all married couples, regardless of the jurisdiction in which they were married.

I have called and left a message with my employers benefits department. I remain confident that this will be resolved in favor of my current coverage.

It does stand ,however, as further testimony as to why marriage equality is needed, not only by every state, but by the federal government. DOMA must be repealed.