"5 Questions With... Carol Speser: Activist/Chaplain

Carol Speser is a long time activist in Buffalo. She has been a pioneer — founded the local Stonewall Democrats, organized the first outdoor pride celebration and is now the founder/director of Rainbow Spirit Rising. We asked her a few questions about issues of special importance to the LGBTQ community.

What’s the difference between gay marriage and civil union?A civil union is not a marriage. Civil unions are separate drinking fountains. The Constitution says: equal protection under the law. For the government to establish two separate institutions for American citizens stigmatizes same-sex couples as different, separate and less worthy. States like New Jersey, Connecticut, Vermont and New Hampshire reached the conclusion that they don’t work. They found them to encourage unequal treatment.

You know how it hits me personally? The idea of me being put into a separate legal class of citizens, scares me. I was born in 1948 and grew up here in Buffalo with Holocaust survivors in my life—like Gerda Klein. I heard personal stories told—uncut—because it had just happened—around dining room tables. So for me, being Jewish, the idea of the government passing legislation to put lesbian and gay couples into a separate, legal class of citizens, gives me a visceral whoosh of panic. ..."

Read more: http://artvoice.com/issues/v10n31/five_questions#ixzz1UN2QSxXe

Practical legal and financial considerations for same-sex couples tying the knotCongratulations to couples getting married under New York State’s new provision for civil marriage. For many couples “taking the plunge,” legal and financial matters are issues you began talking about long ago, as many couples getting married now have been committed to each other for many years, perhaps even decades. For others, this time presents an opportunity to have serious conversations about matters you may not have discussed before. As with any couple, it is wise to have matter-of-fact conversations about priorities and planning before entering into a marriage contract.

In the absence of legal federal recognition of gay marriage, all unmarried couples would be wise to concentrate on establishing—to the best extent possible—those property and inheritance rights that we don’t get automatically under the law. That’s why such planning is more important for lesbian and gay couples than married couples. Here are a few of the most important considerations:

Don’t get lulled into a false sense of securityYour marriage will be recognized by New York State, but not by the federal government, as dictated under DOMA. ..." 

Read more: http://artvoice.com/issues/v10n31/marriage_equality_planning#ixzz1UN0DfRsG