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Below are examples of how current laws already impact our families. This ban will only make things worse.
Domestic Partner Tax Penalty
Ryan and Michael have been together for over four years. They both have information technology careers and work for stable companies. Both of their companies now offer domestic partner benefits, despite the current political climate. However, because there is no recognition of their relationship at either a state or federal level, they would be heavily taxed by state and country if they were to take the benefits. For instance, if Ryan was to be placed on Michael's plan, it would be recorded on his paystub as additional income. By the end of the year it would be viewed by the State and Federal governments as a $5000 raise, resulting in approximately $1,500 in additional federal taxes alone. Married couples, in contrast would have a penalty of $0.00.
Only one legally recognized parent for their adopted child
Josh and Brian will be adopting later in 2005. Because the state of Wisconsin no longer acknowledges two parents of the same gender (this changed in early 2000), only one of them can legally be acknowledged as a parent to their child. Despite joint financial and parental responsibilities, one of them will be religated to a guardian (at best). This removes the ability for one of them to take advantage of the Family Leave Medical Act that allows straight couples time off from work to take care of family or medical matters without concern of being fired. This also stops one of them from counting the child as a dependant for taxes and expenses. Furthermore, only one of the child's parents will be legally acknowledged when discussing educational needs at the child's school, and by doctors and nurses providing medical care to the child. While there are legal contractual agreements currently possible to help medigate some of these issues, the passing of the ban will put the validity of these legal contracts in jeapordy.
Invalidating our hospital visitation rights, powers of attorney and wills
Sean and Bradley have been together for eleven years. Both work as executives in Milwaukee. They relocated to Wisconsin ten years ago, in part, because it had been the first state in the nation to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation, back in the 1970s. The day they bought their first home together, they went to a family law attorney to get durable powers of attorney, health care powers of attorney, wills leaving each's possessions to the other and legal protection ensuring that if something happened to one of them, the other would get full ownership of their house. Bradley's family is very supportive of their relationship. But two of Sean's elder siblings have made it quite clear they don't approve. If Wisconsin's Constitutional ban on civil unions and gay marriage is enacted, Sean's siblings could use it to deny Bradley hospital visitation rights, full ownership of their home and any inheritence. If the ban passes, Sean and Bradley would have to seriously consider leaving Wisconsin.
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