real people

By Letting DOMA Stay on the Books, Barack Obama and Your Senators Are Ruining the Lives of Emma Jae + Olivia

These short stories, just packaged and posted by GLAD, about real American families materially harmed by the Defense of Marriage Act are terrific. Probably nothing here that you’ve never heard before, but photos and narratives of the men and women — and children — that DOMA impacts on a day-to-day basis are the real currency in having the law repealed. Like Dorene and Mary Bowe-Shulman:

Having cancer twice in her early 20s changed Dorene’s outlook on what was really important in life. When she met Mary at a book group in 1996, she realized she had found someone who shared her perspective. They bonded over Irish tea and their old, stubborn alpha cats, and have been together since.

Mary, 48 and an attorney at the Massachusetts Court of Appeals, and Dorene, 43 and a stay-at-home mom and part-time acupuncturist, legally married in Massachusetts in 2004. They are raising two girls in their home in Acton —Emma Jae, who is 10 and an avid reader who loves playing soccer, and Olivia, who at 7 has taken on the role of family clown.

As a mom and cancer survivor whose own mother died of cancer at a young age, Dorene knows that good health insurance plays a critical role in her health and the security of her family. So when she and Mary were able to legally marry, they rushed to put Dorene on Mary’s family health plan at work rather than pay for an expensive individual policy for Dorene. They were relieved—until Mary got her first paycheck after adding Dorene to her family plan.

“It was as if I had added a total stranger to my insurance, not my spouse,” says Mary. “I already had a family insurance plan through work, but the federal government had withdrawn taxes for Dorene’s coverage. My married colleagues just aren’t penalized in the same way.”

Mary’s family health plan costs her employer the same whether Dorene is added or not. They also can’t file federal taxes as a married couple. This has cost them thousands of dollars—in 2006 alone the family paid $3,332 more in taxes than they would have if the federal government did not discriminate against their marriage. This is money they could be saving for their girls’ education.