Action Betsy

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Posted on July 12, 2014 - 11:53pm by row iliescu.

This is a follow up blog to "Being Betsy" posted last week.  This blog is written by Betsy herself.

Last week, Row wrote a blog for Equality Florida called “Being Betsy” – I am Betsy.  Essentially she told the story about a day in my life of incredible highs and lows.  It started with me witnessing the marriage equality hearing in Miami… and ended with my car window bashed in, personal items stolen, experiencing the comfort of knowing that at least I was well-insured and then learning that the homeowner’s insurance policy recognized me as no more than a renter in my own home—a renter that needs a separate insurance policy. 

Why? Because I’m married to a woman. 

When the claims assistant delivered the blow, I fell silent and came within inches of simply accepting the information “as the way things are right now.”  I thought, “soon enough we’ll be equal.  Just not today.”  I didn’t promptly recognize that I could take action – it's other people who do the action-taking.  And anyhow, would one voice matter with a “Big Insurance Company?”  I was just…being Betsy: ready to move along. 

But I did take action.  I posted about my adventure on Facebook – a bit of a rant, really.  What followed was unanticipated. Row asked if she could share my story, then wrote the blog, which she posted to the Equality Florida webpage. She added a somewhat challenging comment on the Bankers Insurance Facebook Page for good measure.

It wasn't long before I heard from Heather of Bankers Insurance.  It turns out Heather is a bit of a sleuth.  Alerted by staff to Row’s Facebook comment, she followed the clues to the LGBT rights organization Equality Florida's website, read Row’s blog, looked me up on Facebook and finally contacted me through my LinkedIn profile!

She apologized for the discrimination I experienced.  I expected that.  Nobody wants to lose business.  I was told that Bankers’ benefits package recognizes married couples within their company, regardless of gender.  She stated she knew that their internal practices in no way made up for their antiquated external practices, nor my personal experience with their company.

What I did not expect was a call later in the day from Bill Martin, President, Bankers Insurance Group, who had also read the blog.  He offered another apology, outlined their positive steps towards the larger issues of changing their policies, and he provided his cell phone number to learn more about the work of Equality Florida.  It gave me hope.

Tomorrow morning I will file my claim with Heather at Bankers Insurance.  Honestly, I’m not super excited about filing a claim – I’m more excited that in the eyes of this insurance company, my wife Holly has returned to being my wife, instead of just my “landlord”. 

If you’re anything like me---just “being”, here are a couple of lessons learned:

  • Rights are not given for “good behavior.”  We should demand these rights, not wait around for them to be doled out. 
  • Discrimination comes in many hidden forms.  Let’s do our homework.
  • Blogs are pretty powerful (thank you Row)! 

Row’s Facebook post and her Blog challenged Bankers Insurance to stand up for equality.  She wrote:

“Banker's Insurance, call me.  You have about a minute to get on the right side of history, and if I hear the words "industry standards" I might have a fit.  Seriously, call me; we are here to help you, just as soon as you realize you want to do the right thing. ”

Thank you Bankers Insurance, Heather and Bill for reaching out to me.  I’ve got my eyes on you – and will cheer you on as you choose full equality.  And thanks to Row and all those who shared my story.  Lemonade anyone? It’s  being served at Bankers…

Betsy Keteltas

 

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