Letters to the Editor

Equal rights for domestic partners | Federal Way letters, March 28

Our family went to Olympia today (March 23) to testify before the Washington State House of Representatives Judiciary Committee regarding E2SSB 5688, which expands the rights and responsibilities of state-recognized domestic partners.

Both Brennen, our 13-year-old, and I testified on behalf of our family and the other 5,111 domestic partners registered in Washington state. Here is our testimony.

Rachel:

Good afternoon, Rep. Peterson and members of the judiciary committee.

My name is Rachel Smith-Mosel. My family lives in Federal Way, Wash. I am here as a wife and mother to three children ages 13, 10 and 8, and foster mom to over 20 children last year alone. I am here as a public school teacher and a Sunday school teacher. I am here as one of the 5,111 domestic partners in Washington state.

Sandy, my domestic partner, works with seniors and I am a public school teacher. I work an honest day for unequal pay as a result of how my benefits are taxed and my retirement handled under current law. E2SSB 5688 will rectify this by expanding the rights and responsibilities of state-registered domestic partnerships.

Without this law, the promise of equality under the law stops at my doorstep, at my paycheck, at my medical benefits, at my retirement and at my family.

Sandy and I are legally married in Canada and in California. We were married here in Olympia in a religious ceremony. We became domestic partners the first day it was available. We are clearly committed to each other and to our children.

As foster parents, Sandy and I work tirelessly — and long after most families retire for bed, raising not just our own biological children, but the children brought to our home by CPS at all hours. We are adopting our 11-year-old foster son and hope to add our 13-month-old to our family as well.

Because Sandy and I can only be domestic partners in Washington, the medical benefits I extend to my spouse are paid out of post-tax income. Married couples' insurance is paid out of pre-tax dollars.

As a public school teacher, I am part of the Washington State School Employees Retirement System. In the event of my death before the age of 65, were I married, my surviving spouse would receive both my retirement contributions and the matching contributions from the state. Under current law and because my marriage is not recognized, my domestic partner will only receive my contribution — losing half of my hard-earned retirement benefit.

This is not equal work for equal pay.

Our family is only asking for what is fair, for what is equal... so that my children and spouse are protected under the law and my earnings taxed and treated fairly.

Thomas Jefferson wrote: "Equal rights for all, special privileges for none." That's all were asking for with this bill.

Brennen:

Good afternoon, Rep. Peterson and members of the committee.

My name is Brennen Smith. As a child of LGBT parents, I am very aware that my parents are maritally second-class citizens. They and our family do not currently have the same rights and protections as my friends' families. It is my dream that when I again walk through these doors in April as a senate page for Sen. Tracey Eide that it will be in full equality. All families deserve this. Thank you.

Rachel Smith-Mosel, Federal Way

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