Who's Your Daddy

Picking my fight

I hope by the time you read this column it will already be outdated.  As the euphemism goes, I’m between jobs right now.

A few weeks ago, the new CEO of the large mental and behavioral health nonprofit for which I served as director of communications called me in to tell me that, in a cost-cutting effort, he was eliminating my position. Well that sucked.

It’s not the first time I’ve been laid off, but I certainly hope it’s the last.

For gay couples, unemployment can raise an issue about health care coverage. In California there was no doubt that wherever I worked, domestic-partner benefits would be offered. It was a no-brainer – companies large and small offered benefits either because it was the right thing to do, or because they wanted to be able to attract the best employees.

In Utah it’s way more hit and miss. My old company only began offering domestic-partner benefits a few years ago. And although I wasn’t there for the debate, I understand it was pretty heated and the board of directors’ vote was not unanimous.

We’re lucky though because either one of us can carry the kids as dependents on our insurance. That’s only because we adopted them in California and we are both their legal fathers. The state of Utah has worked diligently to ban gay adoption, while recognizing only birth parents and denying second-parent adoptions for same-gender couples. That means there are kids out there who could get coverage under a parent’s insurance if the state would actually recognize that person as the parent. But, hey, don’t worry, the Legislature makes these laws to protect families!

Amusingly, I’ve had to sign, and sometimes notarize, a statement declaring that Kelly and I are more than just friends before I could add him to my insurance. Never mind the copy of our marriage certificate I brought in.

Adding insult to injury is the fact that gay and lesbian couples (and unmarried straight couples) who take advantage of domestic-partner benefits end up getting their partner’s health coverage taxed as added income.

Health care coverage and extra taxes are, of course, just a couple of the unfair issues gay families have to deal with that piss me off.

I guess I’m just a bit sensitive right now; I’ve never done well with what I perceive as an injustice. And the whole being laid off thing , which sucked but wasn’t unjust, has made me focus on how lucky I really am. I’ve got a loving husband, wonderful kids, an amazing extended family and great, supportive friends.

It’s also made me realize something astonishing: Salt Lake City is the best place for us, as gay men, to raise our children.  Yeah, you read that correctly: Salt Lake is the best place for two gay guys to raise kids!

Now, what makes that statement ring true for me is the fact that my family is here in Utah. That’s a huge bonus. And we’ve also made a lot of great new friends here, too.

That makes looking for a new job hard – I see all sorts of openings in my field for which I’d be a great fit and likely earn 50 percent more than I did at my old gig, but they’re in places like Boston and Washington, D.C.  And even with a 100 percent raise, it’d be difficult to tell the boys to say goodbye to Utah.

Besides, we’re needed more in Utah than we are places like Boston or D.C. We need to be here to help fight the fight.

Not long ago, my friend and fellow Q columnist Bob Henline published the names of Eagle Forum members who so vocally worked to kill yet another nondiscrimination bill in the Legislature.  In a televised “confrontation” one of the members told Bob what a terrible thing he’d done and wanted him to know that she has children.

So what, lady? So do I. Oh and, lady, Bob’s straight.

Clearly, the fight is here. And I know that the more Utahns who understand they have gay and lesbian neighbors and friends – and that we come in a rainbow variety pack of shapes, sizes and types – the better our chances are of gaining those basic civil rights.

As an openly gay dad I have to be a part of that fight. So if you know of anyone looking for a really good corporate communications guy, give them my number!

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