Singles Must Show Up In Person! January 10, 2010Posted by Onely in As If!, Everyday Happenings.
Tags: absentee voting criteria, married peoples' rights, singles discrimination, spouse privileges, U.S. government discrimination
Here at Onely (and in the singles’ advocacy blogosphere in general) we’re always griping about how the U.S. government provides married people with over 1300 legal privileges that singles don’t get (kudos to Bella DePaulo who first mined the federal statues). Honestly, though, I can only specifically name a few of those 1300 benefits: the ability to draw a deceased partner’s social security; right to pay less capital gains tax (and other taxes); right to piggyback on a partner’s insurance; right to visit and make medical decisions for a partner in the hospital. What are all the other 1,296 rights denied to singles? Copious readers, please let us know!
I’ll start the list with a Married Privilege I recently discovered by accident:
Politicians have been bombarding my mailbox with lit’riture in preparation for Virginia’s upcoming Jan 12 special election to fill a state Senate seat. I received an absentee ballot application from Democrat Dave Marsden. Now, any candidate who sends lit’riture encouraging me to sit at home on my couch and vote instead of going out in the pre-8-a.m. cold to my old elementary school has my full support! However, upon closer examination of the ballot, I realized that I would have to meet at least one of eighteen specific criteria in order to be able to vote from my couch. Here they are (cliffhanger–I have put the most exciting criteria at the end of the list). In order to vote absentee, I would have to be:
Confined and awaiting trial.
A first responder.
Have a religious obligation.
Away on business.
Working/commuting between 6 am and 7 pm.
Disabled or sick.
(No month specified–but that’s a whole ‘nother issue).
Confined, convicted of a misdemeanor.
An electoral board member.
Residing outside U.S. or spouse/dependent residing with employee.
(So far so good, right? Wait for it. . . wait for it. . . )
Active duty military.
Spouse or dependent living with active duty military.
(Ok, this puzzles me. Can someone tell me why a spouse or dependent of an ADM person needs special voting privileges? Let’s assume they are not living outside the U.S. per the exemption detailed above. But it gets better. . .)
Spouse of Student
Whaaaaaa? Why on earth would the spouse of a student specifically not be able to get to the voting booth? Why would the spouse of a student deserve a special exemption denied to me, a non-spouse of a student? Anyone have any ideas?
Just when I was beginning to think that I, a non-business-travelling, non-military, non-student-spouse, would have to show up in person on January 12 at my old elementary school by o-dark-thirty breathing steam, I noticed absentee criteria 1D: “Personal business or vacation.”
Hooray! I checked “1D” and wrote “On vacation in Michigan on 12 January.” Ok, strictly speaking, this was not true. But I had just returned from visiting my family in Michigan a week previously, so I figured that was close enough justification. (I noticed that a justification was not required for any of the spousal exceptions.)
Yay! I could be an upstanding, participatory citizen without ever leaving my living room! But as I signed my absentee ballot application, I read with stinking heart the following warning:
I declare under felony penalty that, to the best of my knowledge, the facts contained in this application are true and correct. . . Knowingly giving any untrue information in this document is a felony under Virginia law. The maximum penalty is a fine of $2500 and/or confinement for up to ten years.
I considered for a minute whether $2500 might be a small price to pay for a coveted extra hour of extra sleep, and whether I might enjoy the extended free time provided by a stint in the slammer (I’ve been wanting to finish my Great American Novel anyway). But in the end, I didn’t sign the application.
If you need me, you can find me skulking around the bars at George Mason U looking for students to spouse onto, in anticipation of next year’s absentee applications.
P.S. I am going to write to Marsden and tell him how this government-sanctioned heteronormativity almost cost him a vote! (And may, in fact, still cost him a vote, depending how much of a zombie I am on January 12.)