Have you seen the cover of Newsweek? It’s a story about our President and his ability to rest easy in the knowledge that he is on a divine mission. My guess is that more than one of the suicide bombers felt the same assurance; but the difference, of course, is that their faith was terribly misplaced.

Not to be missed.

Separately, I commend to you this op-ed by Lisa Bennett of the Human Rights Campaign, fresh from her word processor:

Reality Bites
By Lisa Bennett

I have an idea for a new reality show. Call it “Not Married by America” and watch what happens when same-sex couples face everyday family challenges, like, say, birth, accidents and death. It may not be quite as funny as Fox’s new “Married by America,” where Americans get to vote on who should marry whom. But it might be refreshing to see a reality show about something… well, real.

Here’s episode one. Susan and Mary, a happy couple in their 20s, are entertaining their parents at their home in Florida. As they sit down to dinner, Susan announces, “I’m pregnant!” Smiles and tears appear on every face. Then Mary drops the bombshell. “But we have to move to Pennsylvania.” Cut to commercial. Pennsylvania, the women later explain, is the nearest state that will guarantee same-sex couples access to second-parent adoption, or the right of both to be legal parents of the child they will raise together.

Episode two. Joe and Brandon, a 40-something couple, are driving to the supermarket one morning when they pull over to help a stranded motorist on the side of the highway. A passing car hits Joe and he’s rushed to the hospital. Although Joe and Brandon have been together for 14 years, the hospital won’t let Brandon visit Joe, let alone make medical decisions on his behalf. Hospital officials say he is not considered “family.” Instead, they telephone Joe’s parents, to whom he hasn’t spoken in years.

Laughing yet? Wait. Here comes episode three. It’s morning and Jonathan, age 5, is in his pajamas playing with his mother, Kathy. After a few minutes, she kisses him and says it’s time for her to go to work. “Have fun with Mommy, sweetie,” she says, nodding toward her partner, Sharon, who enters the room. “I’ll see you tonight.” Foreboding music. Later that afternoon, Kathy, who was born with a hole in her heart, has a fatal heart attack. Her son and his stay-at-home mom are left to fend for themselves, without even the cushion of Social Security survivor benefits because Kathy was denied the right to become Jonathan’s legal parent.

OK. Now here comes the fun part. At the end of each episode, the American public can dial in to vote on what might have been a more fair ending, which might be something really surprising like equal rights under law. Polls have shown, after all, that 71 percent of Americans support hospital visitation rights for same-sex couples; 70 percent support employer-sponsored health insurance; 68 percent support Social Security coverage; and (note to network execs) 68 percent of high school seniors support adoption rights.

Or we could avoid putting the country through this whole saga and do something really radical and simply grant all families equal rights under law – by ridding discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity from marriage and adoption laws, and bringing equity to retirement, Social Security and tax laws.

Until this day becomes a reality, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people can take steps to protect themselves with some important legal documents, such as domestic partner agreements, durable powers of attorney, hospital visitation authorizations, last wills and testaments, living wills, and, if appropriate, co-parenting agreements.

None of these documents will provide them with the same rights and responsibilities that the strangers united on “Married by America” will receive when they say, “I do.” But it could help keep their stories from appearing on “Not Married by America.”

Lisa Bennett runs the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s FamilyNet.


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