Sally Kohn at TIME, writing about the female domestic partner of Sally Ride, physicist and first American woman in space: "Under federal law, Ride’s domestic partner of 27 years will not receive death benefits or Social Security payments. Is that any way to treat a hero?" It's an injustice, but it's not NASA's fault. Nor, of course, is the injustice limited to the case of Sally Ride and the woman who loved her. This is all DOMA. (via Steve Silberman)

50 Responses to “Astronaut Sally Ride's partner won't receive government death benefits. Thanks, homophobes.”

  1. travtastic says:

    Every time we deny benefits to two people in a relationship, it makes the world a better place. Right?

    • Xof says:

      My marriage feels much, much safer knowing that Sally Ride’s wife won’t receive a pension.

    • Rindan says:

      Jesus is totally sitting up there on his cloud going “lol.  f*gs.”

      Personally, I am baffled at this sort of behavior.  I am a godless heathen, who thinks that people who believe in magic and the supernatural are delusional, but if you are going to believe in that crap, do you really think your god is sitting up there smiling at human suffering?

      Thankfully, you can’t paint all churches and religious people with the same brush.  I know in my community in Boston a non-trivial portion of our churches have big old rainbow flags waving.  They clearly have somehow managed to reconcile Jesus’s message of peace and love with not brutalizing your fellow humans because you don’t like the gender combination of their partnership.

      • Jesus’ message is only ‘peace and love’ if you ignore whole chunks of the doctrine. It’s also a very recent perspective on Christianty.

        Those nutty westborough baptist church folks are probably closer to the intended result of reading the bible.

  2. Bob Martin says:

    If someone can collect money for Trayvon Martin’s Killer and the lady on the bus who was verbally assaulted by those young jewels of our society, then surely someone can begin a fund to right this wrong. If they did I’d surely donate to it!

    • Charles Céleste Hutchins says:

       That’s very good, but it’s not just her, it’s every same sex partner in the federal government.

    • JonS says:

       Why are you trying to turn this into a “charity” thing, when it should be a “justice” thing?

      • Bob Martin says:

        You are absolutely right. It is wrong on every level to deny these relationships all of the rights and responsibilities given to any union if you wan’t to call it marriage or whatever. I think of it less as “Charity” and more as an assertion of the will of our society despite the fact that our government hasn’t caught up to that yet. 

  3. Got into a Facebook argument about this the other day. Just like with cannabis, the only argument against always boils down to two points: 1) it’s the law, and 2) the law is the law. 

    • Sagodjur says:

      To which you respond, “the Nuremberg Laws and Jim Crow laws were also laws. Are you honestly arguing that legality equals morality?”

    • Bzzt.  You are mistaken.   The argument is more like “We invite God’s punishment if we embrace sinful lifestyles”.  Good luck arguing with people who believe that God can only communicate through hurricanes and earth quakes.

      • Xof says:

        Well, to be fair, they usually trot out It’s the Law and Will of the Voters at some point, just for completeness’ sake.

      • Rindan says:

        On the plus side, I have actually seen a lot less of the “but the magic sky man told me it was wrong” arguments.  I got into a Facebook slappy fight not so long ago and the argument wasn’t whether or not gay marriage is just, it was if I was being a bigot for talking shit to bigots, if the advocates for gay marriage are playing fair, and basically anything but the actual topic.  When people are starting to become too ashamed to even articulate their bigotry and are left to the defenses of “but its the law”, “why change now”, and you convoluted arguments about how it is hypocritical to hate on bigots, you know that victory isn’t all that far on the horizon. 

      • Frank says:

        If those religious people really would understand their “gods word”, they could see that they “end in hell” if they pressure their will or judge upon other people only because they are different.

    • Bob Martin says:

      Sorry to be harsh but that’s a cop-out. The Germans wen’t along with the holocaust for the same reason.

  4. Joe Bullock says:

    Would it be any different with a heterosexual couple? And that’s not me being a dick or contrary, I’m really curious.

    • Andrew Singleton says:

      Yes. Yes it would be.

      • Joe Bullock says:

        Why? I was just looking at this link I found after I posted and it would indicate that there is no difference for same sex or opposite sex partners. Am I reading it wrong?

        http://ohcm.gsfc.nasa.gov/benefits/DomesticPartners.htm

        For clarification, I’m all for same sex marriage, etc. I’m not saying that she shouldn’t be… unless the policy is that you have to be married and it excludes heterosexual couples too. Which it appears to. Maybe they just needed to come to Massachusetts and get hitched.

        EDIT… Ahhh…. yes… DOMA. Doesn’t matter if they were married or not.

        Carry on.

        • marilove says:

          Seriously??  I wonder how many other people are unaware of this, which I thought was fucking obvious.  This is why DOMA is dangerous and awful.

    • foobar says:

      A heterosexual couple would be common law married.

    • Bob Martin says:

      You miss the whole picture. A surviving Spouse gets the Partner’s social security, among other things. There are many rights which accrue to a married couple which are unique to that situation, and that’s why Homosexual couples who are in a committed relationship want the right to affirm that relationship legally as well as “spiritually”. Not the only reason mind you but an important one. The Congress denying that right to federal employees is just meanness on the part of a few bigots.

      • BillStewart2012 says:

        It wasn’t just a few bigots.  It was a lot of bigots. 

        But isn’t it nice to know that Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich are still Defending your Marriage, even now that they’re no longer in office, because they’re just the people you’d have picked for the job?

    • BillStewart2012 says:

      If you mean “an unmarried heterosexual couple”, the difference is that the heterosexual couple would have had the option of getting married, while DOMA says that the Federal government never considers same-sex couples to be married, including for Social Security and Federal employee benefits, even if they live in a state that lets them get married and have done so.  

      On the other hand, they’ve both had the privilege of paying up to the yearly maximum in Social Security taxes, and paying income tax at the Single rate instead of the usually-lower Married Filing Jointly.  And her partner will have to pay Estate Taxes on everything she inherits, instead of getting the very large spousal deduction that married people get.

      Some states like California have other options for heterosexuals, such as “domestic partnership”, but I don’t know if they count for Federal employee benefits (I assume not, though they might very well count for those states’ or some cities’ employee benefits.)  They don’t count for Social Security.

  5. That_Anonymous_Coward says:

    Thanks for advancing our science and technology.  Putting your life on the line as we squeezed pennies out of the budget using cut rate priced o rings. 
    Your a hero but screw you and the people you cared for.

    Reminds me of that town in Texas who fought to deny benefits to the wife of a firefighters wife, who was transgendered or transitioning.  They denied it because they couldn’t be married and some other crazed ideas.
    This man risked life and limb to protect you, your property, and died doing that dangerous job and the response to his death is to say fuck you to the person he loved.

    It didn’t matter who he was sleeping with when he was saving your crap from the fire, but your going to judge him later?  If firefighters checked to make sure you were “good people” before trying to rescue you or save your property you’d be screaming bloody murder.

    Sleep well bigots your job is done, you have shit upon the memory of an American Hero.  Your religious beliefs, that you forced upon everyone else, win.  I wonder how many more brave souls you can keep from doing anything for the public good with your bigotry.

    • ldobe says:

       Reminds me of another great scientist and hero: Alan Turing.  Contributed to cracking the enigma and invented the computer.  Put to death because he was gay.

      Makes the bile rise in my gullet to think about how the british government treated one of their greatest heroes.

      (and yes, I know the government didn’t directly kill Alan Turing, they just arrested him when he reported that a friend of his boyfriend had broken in.  Then he was given the choice of going to prison for being gay, or chemical castration for being gay.  So he went with the chemical castration, and eventually killed himself, most likely a side effect of putting 5 women’s’ worth of estrogen into a man.)

      • That_Anonymous_Coward says:

        And don’t forget even this long after his death giving him a pardon is unthinkable.  Well the law is the law, even if we think its wrong today.

        http://boingboing.net/2009/08/17/campaign-to-get-uk-g.html
        http://boingboing.net/2011/12/07/petition-to-get-a-pardon-for-t.html
        http://www.forbes.com/sites/carolpinchefsky/2012/02/07/uk-denies-alan-turing-postumous-pardon-for-homosexuality/

        But we can celebrate what he did for us with a stamp!
        http://boingboing.net/2012/01/02/alan-turing-commemorative-stam.html

        Turning the tide of the war, moving the world forward by leaps and bounds, but nothing to can do will ever remove the brand of you being a homosexual. 
        Your perfectly happy to exploit what we offer, but you can’t be bothered to offer us the rights everyone else takes for granted.

        • JonS says:

          “giving him a pardon is unthinkable.”

          Much as I agree that what was done to Turing was despicable, I’m actually in agreement with them *not* pardoning him. At least, not until all the other poor saps that got ground up in those cogs of injustice is pardoned too.

          • trondmm says:

            I agree. They should pardon all of them. Not just Turing.

          • Tynam says:

            In a sane world, the question would be “should we pardon the morons who convicted him”.  But we already knew the world was not just.

          • That_Anonymous_Coward says:

            They should, but they refuse to face the fact what they were doing was horribly wrong. 
            The people involved are long gone, but keeping their memory untarnished is more important than accepting they did horrible things.

      • trondmm says:

        You’re forgetting that he wasn’t a hero when they convicted him. He hadn’t cracked the Enigma. He hadn’t invented the computer.

        As far as the world knew, that is. All of this was top secret. Nobody knew about, or were allowed to talk about, his achievments until long after his death. In fact, his friends and family thought he was a coward for dodging armed services during the war.

        He was “just” another common homosexual, at the time. Of course, that doesn’t justify treating homosexuals like that, but you can’t blame someone for treating a hero badly, when none of the people involved has any way of knowing he’s a hero.

        • That_Anonymous_Coward says:

          He worked for someone who knew, one would think they would have kept track of this valuable asset and moved to derail the case.
          What else could he have accomplished had they given a shit?

          • trondmm says:

            It was a slam dunk case. Derailing it wasn’t really an option. If anyone from the government or military had approached the court and instructed them to drop the case, it would surely have attracted some attention.

            Also, afaik, UK doesn’t have presidential pardons, so there wouldn’t have been a simple way to reduce his punishment either.

            Britain sold the Enigma to several countries after the war, so that they would be able to read their secret communications. Protecting that secret was pretty important to them.

            In case there’s any doubt. I’m not defending the law or the sentence. I’m just saying that as far as the court knew, he was just another regular guy that had admitted to breaking the law, and he was given the same choice that everybody else that had been convicted of breaking that law was given.

            The law was wrong, but I don’t see how they can be criticized for also applying it to secret war heroes.

          • Antinous / Moderator says:

            In case there’s any doubt. I’m not defending the law or the sentence.

            Yes, you are. By niggling over details and missing the main point.

            They also serve who only stand and kvetch.

          • trondmm says:

            Antinous: OK, let’s see if I can clarify my point.

            I think it’s a disgrace that gay people were convicted of indecency for being gay.

            I think the punishment they were given was cruel.

            I think it’s a tragedy that one of the most brilliant minds of our times was among those convicted.

            I do not think it’s more disgraceful to convict Turing than anybody else. Especially when nobody knew about Turing’s importance during the war.

        • Tynam says:

          Ummm… many people who knew exactly how important his work was had the power to prevent his conviction.  They did pretty much the opposite.

        • In fact that’s exactly when you blame them, people should be judged by how they treat those who are not special rather than how they treat those who are special. 

          (though granted mistreatment of heroes stands out more)

          • trondmm says:

             The point is that many argue that it’s especially disgraceful that he was treated this way, since he was a hero. I’m just pointing out that since nobody involved in the case had any way of knowing about that, it simply wasn’t a factor at all.

  6. gedsudski says:

    Bigotry is bigotry… it can be shielded by the bible or justice herself,  it’s still just bigotry.

  7. Gerry says:

    Trondmm is spot-on, to my mind; Idobe´s spawning comment about Alan Turing is indeed a single case in a widespread travesty: watching the inevitable unfolding of his not being posthumously pardoned, due to the “following orders”:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-16919012

    “Justice Minister Lord McNally dismissed the motion in the House of Lords.
    “A posthumous pardon was not considered appropriate as Alan Turing was properly convicted of what at the time was a criminal offence,”"

    had that widespread travesty been retroactively addressed in pardoning Turing, it would have set a legal precedent, for which the British Criminal Justice system, I’m guessing, has zero preparation. The stinging embarrassment to Britain of his case, and its spotlit archaism, is justly humiliating; Sally Ride’s case in the US, equally so.

    Until both governments reflect their peopled realities, we’re fucked.

    Trondmm highlighted a shifting ground’s need for concrete: it’s not about one case, it’s about the people who decide what “case” is; it’s about everyone in that situation, and it´s about everyone who doesn’t shout the voice they’ve been given to change outdated thinking, thus: it’s about time.

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