Every now and then you get a tiny piece of history in the mail. I, as well as many others, got such a bit of history today. Most won't even notice it.
I am a scientist. That means long hours, high stress, and relatively low pay given the hours we put in. But one small bit of compensation is that we generally get good benefits. Among my benefits are some good retirement benefits. Sometimes my salary isn't really enough for us to make ends meet, but even at those times I can look at the growth of my retirement account with TIAA-CREF, fed by the institution where I work, and still feel like I am coming out alright in the long run.
Of course part of having a retirement account is giving information about your spouse. Beneficiaries and all that. My spouse has certain legal rights vis a vis my retirement account should I die or something like that. That is part of the legal structure that falls under the term "marriage." It actually, practically speaking, is far more the meat and potatoes of what "marriage" means than any vague passage found in the bible.
Every now and then I get notices from TIAA-CREF regarding my retirement account which basically inform me of tiny, or sometimes not so tiny, changes in laws that require revisions in the contracts between myself and TIAA-CREFF that are the legal structure surrounding my retirement account. Usually these notices mean little to me and I simply recycle them after just one brief read through.
Today's notice I read and re-read and felt really good about. It isn't earth shattering, and in fact has no direct impact on me or my family personally, but it represents such a huge change in the direction this nation is going in terms of LGBT rights that it really made me feel good and made me want to share. I will share this boring but cool bureaucratic notice below...
The cover letter to the notice of contract changes begins like this:
Recently the Supreme Court ruled that the definition of marriage has been extended to include both same-sex and opposite-sex couples. Because of this ruling, the New York State Department of Financial Services has instructed us to send you the enclosed legal document, called an endorsement. This endorsement updates your contract to remove any provision that makes a distinction between same-sex marriage and opposite-sex marriage....[emphasis mine]
There then followed several pages of nearly identical "endorsements," one for each contract that I hold with TIAA-CREF that is affected by this. This is what each endorsement says:
If your certificate previously contained any provision that served to state the non-recognized status if sane-sex marriage under Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act ("DOMA") and/or any distinction in treatment between same-sex marriages and opposite-sex marriages related thereto, such provision is hereby deleted.[emphasis again mine]
So, in the day to day bureaucracy of retirement accounts with TIAA-CREF, the mean-spirited DOMA is now DELETED!
One small step...but in thousands of mail boxes today this letter announces the kind of change taking place in America today. Of course we have to keep fighting, but to me this mundane, boring letter is a clear sign we are winning.