Referendum 71, Washington State

Hey. Washington voters. Can we all stop thinking about sex and talk about R-71 for a minute? And what it could mean to a lot of ‘state registered domestic partnerships’?


First of all, nothing in the referendum says anything about anyone having sex with anyone else. Let me repeat that. Nothing in the referendum mandates that anyone has to be having sex with anyone. So let’s put that off the table.


All R-71 says that if two people of the same sex want to form a domestic partnership, they can. What if we called it a life alliance? What if we are talking about two single dads (and I don’t really care who the dads are having sex with, and if you do, that’s your problem) who rent a place together and share a nanny for the kids and pool their groceries and only have one car? Would it be okay with everyone if we said, “Oh, and you can share health insurance benefits, too?” How about a single mom and her second cousin who happens to be female and their kids becoming a household? What is wrong with that? Share medical insurance, have someone else who can rush to the emergency room with the kid, take out a house loan together? 


No one seems to be talking much about what R-71 offers to older couples over 62. It basically says that any sort of couples over 62 can take advantage of the domestic partnership (and you can say life alliance if it makes you feel better) change. It doesn’t even say they have to be having sex!!! So if two old ducks (or drakes, or a duck and a drake) want to share an apartment and car and groceries, and make emergency medical decisions for each other and possibly share insurance benefits, they can. And they don’t even have to have sexto do it!


To my way of thinking, the only flaw in R-71 is that it doesn’t go far enough. Why is it limited to same sex couples who might possibly want to have sex with one another and older opposite sex couples? Think of the domestic partnership or life alliances we see every day. My brother and his kids and my sister had a domestic partnership when he was newly divorced. (No, it didn’t involve sex. Are you listening at all?) They all banded together as one household and helped each other. She was listed as the emergency contact for the school, and became a Girl Scout leader for the daughters. He fixed the plumbing and did the grocery shopping. If R-71 had been in effect for them, and they had chosen to register as a domestic partnership,  the kids would have benefited from her Boeing medical insurance. And all that emergency permission stuff and who can know what about the kids when they’re in hospital would have been a lot simpler. 


Do you know any grandparent who heads a household that includes a grown offspring and some grandchildren? What if  a mom and grown daughter could be seen as ‘domestic partners’? Do you know how much that would simplify life for some of those households? Grandkids suddenly covered under grandma’s insurance at work, maybe.  If Grandma croaks, the taxable estate is reduced before daughter inherits.


Let’s face it. The American family takes a lot of different shapes these days. Any two adults, and I do many ANY two adults, should be allowed the benefits of the domestic partnership without us assuming anything about what goes on in the bedroom. These are hard times, people. Stop worrying about who is having sex with whom, and let’s look at what the referendum actually says.  

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