Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Gay Survivor Benefits; Facebook Gay Emoticons; Jonathan Groff on Social Media

Gay Survivor Benefits

The Bayer company is being sued by the survivor in a same sex marriage because Bayer is refusing to pay survivor pension benefits. Gerald Passaro and Thomas Buckholz were legally married in Connecticut in 2008, and before that together for 13 years. Buckholz was a twenty year employee of Bayer and he died in 2009 only months after the wedding. At the time, there were legal complications they wouldn't have faced today.

Passaro sought the benefits the company’s pension plan is supposed to pay out to surviving spouses of employees but Bayer told him he was not eligible because of the US federal government’s Defense of Marriage Act.

Even though gay marriage was legal in certain states, it was not recognized on a federal level which made these things more complicated, thanks to Bill Clinton's DOMA. (Remember me posting that without federal support the state by state marriages meant very little legally?)

In any event, Passaro was part of the court case that struck down DOMA and now he's asking Bayer to give him survivor benefits again, five years later. Bayer has refused and he's suing them.

I'm not sure how something like this would work five years after the death of a spouse. Legally, he might not have much to go on. Because if that were the case than every single gay survivor in the US who was ever cheated out of money for taxes, pensions, or whatever would be getting compensation retroactively. And I doubt that's going to happen. In 2009 Bayer was most likely following the law and gay couples were basically screwed.

There are a lot of legal issues popping up now that gay marriage is being recognized in more states as each month passes. I recently read where couples should make a point of changing certain things in deeds if they own property together.

You can read more about Bayer here.

Facebook Gay Emoticons

This is particularly interesting to see because of all the uproar last month when Facebook suspended the account Queer as Folk writer, Del Shores, for 30 days for posting what they claimed, "doesn't follow community standards." All Shores did was post about gay marriage. When this happened Del Shores, who obviously isn't as familiar with Facebook as others, went berserk and claimed Facebook was discriminating against him because he's gay. As a result, Facebook reached out to him with a full apology and said it was a mistake.

The problem with Facebook isn't that they are anti-gay...or anti-anything. They just have a very poor policy with regard to reports and suspending accounts. But because Del Shores is famous and something like this happened to him the issue set off some of the strongest reactions I've seen in years. Of course no one bothered to mention that this sort of thing has been happening to gay people on Facebook since Facebook started. And oddly enough it has nothing to do with Facebook being anti-gay.

In any event, Facebook now has a set of brand new emoticons to celebrate gay pride month. I'm sure this has something to do with the Del Shores fiasco. I just wish Facebook would reevaluate its report policies so people are NOT guilty until proven innocent.   

These 28 different emoticons include a football player and his boyfriend, two moms and their kids, a dad embracing his gay son.

This is how you can get them:

click on the smiley face button in the right hand corner and then the shopping cart. The ‘Pride’ pack should be free and one of the first choices. Click on the ‘free’ button, and they’re yours.

The full article is here, with images of the emoticons.


Jonathan Groff on Social Media

Unlike Ellen DeGeneres who can't tweet enough, Jonathan Groff has absolutely no interest in social media. I think this is why I like his style so much.

The star of HBO's Looking says in the new issue of Scene Magazine: 'I haven’t googled myself in five years. I stay completely unhooked when it comes to social media.'

That's not only healthy, but smart. I often get odd looks from other authors when I tell them I stopped all Google alerts about five years ago myself because they were really getting under my skin. One vituperative asshole on a book review blog posted a negative article on her blog about one of my publishers, with the intention to not only harm the publisher but also harm so many new and inexperienced authors who were unfamiliar with that kind of irresponsible online behavior, without even giving the publisher a chance. And I decided that since I had no control over misinformed content like that (or vituperative assholes) I wouldn't bother to read that kind of tripe unless it was absolutely necessary. Five years later, the publisher never did one unethical thing and the article was never updated or retracted. The blogger, however, has since been branded an online bully and was kicked out of RWA for basically being an asshole for this and other unrelated events.

You can read more here on Jonathan Groff. I hope he remains a class act.








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