A Hitch in the Plans

December 24, 2010 at 11:58 am (Healthy...?) (, , , , )

My partner found out 2 weeks ago  that her company has been acquired by a bigger company based in St. Louis. Great! More opportunities for advancement, better bonuses for travel, hopefully more ‘perks’. She was feeling rather stagnated in her present job so this had the potential to become something very positive.

Cut to last week, when I was online registering us for our new health insurance plan. I fill out most of the forms and read most of the fine print in this household because although my girlfriend is a wonderful, caring person, she can’t seem to pay attention long enough to follow the instructions on a soup can, so insurance forms or our cellular phone bill are way out of her comfort zone. Anyway, I came to the page to add a spouse or dependent. I entered my name and then realized I couldn’t change the gender of the spouse on the page. It was fixed to ‘male’. Uh, what? Emails were sent out post haste. The first was, “Dear HR Person in St. Louis, I can’t add my partner to my health plan because it defaults to male, since I’m female. Please advise.”  The answer?

Unfortunately our plan does not allow for Domestic Partners. At this point there is nothing I can do.

You, “HR Benefits Specialist”, can kiss my yellow ass. So then we wrote to the former owner of the company, who is now acting as head of the west coast operations. The gist of that email was that I, as a domestic partner, was covered under the old company’s policies, as well as the law in the state of California. Any changes to this, i.e., not offering me coverage now, was unacceptable given the law (AB 2208, the California Insurance Equality Act) and that I should be covered. The first response was “we’ll get back to you.” Last night, after close of business and going into a 4 day holiday weekend, another response:

Unfortunately with the new company’s plan being partially company funded and partially employee funded we are not able to offer benefits for domestic partners.

This is California, right? I didn’t fall asleep and wake up in Texas or somewhere in the south? Holy crap, I didn’t think this would be an issue for us, ever. When people say being domestic partners is equivalent to being married so why fight for gay marriage, this is what I want them to know:   my partner’s employers think they have the right not to offer health insurance benefits to me because I am a domestic partner, not a spouse. As it stands right now, my biological child may not be covered by her insurance, either, since she’s not related by blood.

So now we have some major decisions to make. We asked for an extension of our former benefits so that I would not have a lapse in coverage after the companies merge on January 1st. They said no. They suggested I look into COBRA coverage. Do we get a lawyer? Can they actually do this in California? We’re asking our friends for advice, and so far it’s not been pleasant. One of my partner’s friends said he has COBRA now because they took away DP benefits after the whole fiasco surrounding Prop. 8 (his partner’s company ended DP benefits while same sex marriage was legal and never reinstated it) and they couldn’t sue because his partner wasn’t out.

Are we going to fight? Where does this put us as far as planning for the kid? How much more expensive is COBRA if I have to go on it? Individual insurance is not necessarily an option for me, I’ve been told I’m basically uninsurable because I have asthma. Fuckers.

I sent an email to the Nat’l Center for Lesbian Rights, hopefully they get back to me about options soon. Wish I had more than a week to get this sorted out. That it’s the week between Christmas and New Year’s, when most people aren’t really working? Figures.

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Nature vs Nurture

November 5, 2010 at 6:00 pm (Navel Gazing, Randomness) (, , , , )

Well, not precisely. But I was thinking today of a conversation I had with a friend I’ve known for over 30 years. Who hits me every time I mention just how long we’ve known each other. Who says she never thought I was a lesbian, really, but what did we know growing up? I dated boys, dressed like everyone else–pegged jeans, sloppy sweatshirts, keds, the occasional dress–it was the late 80’s-early 90’s. Fashion was weird. Anyway, back to the conversation I had with KG. I mentioned that I never thought it was odd that I found girls attractive. I also didn’t think it was odd that I had no interest in boys, although I guess I must have thought it odd enough that I pretended to have a crush on some guy in 7th grade. KG laughed at me. Really, she did. She said that she, as a completely straight girl, could objectively find another girl pretty but would not be attracted to her. She and I are on completely different ends of the Kinsey scale. It was interesting to talk to someone who’s never in her life thought about another woman the way she thinks about her boyfriends. I, after much dawdling in my teens, now find it utterly insane to think of having any sort of intimate, sexual relationship with a guy.

It’s nice to know that someone I’ve known most of my life is totally ok with me being me. No, I’m not the same person who left our hometown almost 20 years ago, but we share a history and an upbringing that negates any differences that we might have now. We’ve both pointed out that we had an idyllic environment in which to grow up. We attended a very small, private elementary school where we were encouraged to be individuals. We were blissfully unaware of the horrors of life outside of our “golden ghetto”, as one of my English teachers described it in high school, our biggest concerns were academics, school dances, and whether or not our parents would let us have cars when we turned 16. She was a cheerleader, I was a choir geek. There was no valedictorian at graduation because 1/2 the graduating class had over a 4.0 gpa. Nobody brought weapons to school. Yes, there were bullies. Yes, some people were singled out because of their perceived sexuality. But you’d have to ask them about their experiences, because I can’t speak for them. I was an ignorant, happy teenager during those years.

I do remember getting a phone call one afternoon–a girl who said, “I’ve heard you were bi and looking for a girlfriend?” I said that I was neither and she hung up. Did it weird me out? Not really. Did it unlock any doors in my psyche? No, not really. I didn’t know I was queer til after I left high school. But I think I’ve always been ok with it. I didn’t tell anyone for a while, but I never thought it was horribly wrong of me, nor did I ever feel I was somehow unworthy of my family’s love, or the love of my friends. I think I’m pretty lucky in that respect. Hell, I think my family knew before I did!

Somewhere in my mind, I’ve got this idea that I want our children to have the security and safety of the world in which I grew up. I’m not sure how we can give that to them, other than raise them with the same love and guidance that we received from our parents (minus the guilt and passive/aggressive tendencies, thankyouverymuch). I worry about the same things over and over, things that are not in my control, when I’ve always been the type to stay in the moment. My girlfriend’s probably rubbing off on me. She plans 5 years ahead. I can’t think of what I’m doing tomorrow. Or what’s for dinner tonight. But how much control do you really have over what your child learns when you’re not around? I’m seriously going to want to keep our kids with us until they turn 30.

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everyone in my family is having babies

October 16, 2010 at 5:58 pm (Baby on the Brain) (, , , )

My cousin’s in labor right now. with twins. She had a dr’s appointment yesterday and her blood pressure was elevated and there was protein in her urine so they decided to induce her last night/early this morning. As far as I know, she’s still in labor and things are progressing smoothly. Here’s to a safe delivery and healthy baby girls.

My cousin is 2 months older than me. Her sister had a baby earlier this year. My brother & his wife had a baby a year ago. So yeah, I think I’m about the only cousin around my age who hasn’t yet popped out a kid. I have a huge family that just keeps getting bigger and bigger. We’re onto the 5th generation of Japanese-Americans in the US.

Every time I see that side of the family, the questions start. “When are you getting married?” “When are you going to have a baby?” Yes, they know I’m a lesbian. I never had to tell them. I’m extremely lucky they’re so accepting. I’ve been with my girlfriend for almost 10 years. We thought about getting married in 2008 when it was legal in California, but we didn’t feel the time was right, nor did we want to get married on someone else’s timetable.  And while it’s important that we get married, someday, it’s more important that my family recognizes our relationship and treats it and my girlfriend the same as everyone else’s. Besides, my girlfriend’s not out to her family. Her story to tell.

But I can’t see us having a baby until my girlfriend’s out. I mean, how does that work? “Uh, Mom, my room mate’s pregnant. No, she’s not getting married. Yes, we’re going to raise the baby together.” Awkward.

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