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Corporations are people too?

Commentary: Politically Aware

In Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that associations of people are entitled to the same free speech rights as individuals themselves. A few months ago, Mitt Romney summarized the issue more broadly and succinctly, “Corporations are people, my friend.”

I’ve been in a difficult relationship with one corporate “person,” Bank of America, for some time.

I’ve tried to call. I’ve tried to work it out. I doubt the civil legal system would offer me much redress. But because corporations are people, and because a substantial portion of my assets are intertwined with those of the bank – much as would be with a spouse – I should be able to take this corporation to family court.

My corporate partner, let’s call him Bo (as in BofA), was great when we were dating. Free checking accounts with direct deposit. Interest-bearing savings. Visa check card. We were doing so well that we bought a house together. Unlike other lenders, Bo knew I was a doctor even before I applied for a loan and offered me one with no down payment.

The first year was bliss. But Bo, like the economy, has become depressed, moody and distant. He quit taking my calls. But I wasn’t ready to give up on us even if he was. I visited Bo at his office. Would you believe, after once touting the value of our relationship, then seeing me drive over to talk in person, Bo gave me a phone number.

Recently Bo quit making sense altogether. As has happened and continues to happen with many others (should I press charges for polygamy?) our mortgage is underwater. Yet somehow, he seems to think it is best for me to keep paying my current monthly payment, at my current rate. He won’t chip in anything. He says I don’t have enough equity. Hello, Bo, doesn’t that kinda go with the territory? Despite never missing a payment at the current rate, he thinks it’s too risky to let me pay less each month. Huh?

I’m willing to do couples therapy (even though it’s really just Bo who needs to see someone). Maybe I can have him committed. After all, it could be argued that holding us both underwater is suicidal and homicidal.

Bo appears to have lost his part of our mortgage’s paperwork. He said he sold it to some guy he didn’t really know, called BANA. Finding this BANA character didn’t require a private investigator. A quick Google search reveals numerous sites noting BANA to be the Bank of America, National Association. I’m not sure if that makes BANA a sibling of Bo or another personality.

Ultimately, if we can’t work it out, there’s always divorce. Given Bo’s assets and California’s “no-fault divorce” laws, I should come out ahead. I’ll forego alimony if they let me keep the house. Even selling the mortgage would work. Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac would let me refinance under President Obama’s refi program. Instead, I currently have to hope that Bo/BANA do so poorly that they sell off my house as an asset, but not so poorly that I lose my savings. On second thought, maybe that’s enough emotional distress to entice a personal injury attorney. Of course, because Bo is also a person who could claim emotional distress, he could do likewise.

Rights come with responsibilities. I’ll tolerate “corporate persons” much more easily if they are held to the same standards as the rest of us. As the more cynical among straight supporters of same-sex marriage posit, why shouldn’t their relationships be as miserable as ours?

My hero of punditry is John McLaughlin, moderator of the McLaughlin Group, legendary as both a PBS political program and a Saturday Night Live skit. As an homage, next week’s column will be my first annual end of the year political awards – think “Best This,” “Worst That,” or “Most ______.”

Do you have an idea for a category? A recipient? A name for the Politically Aware awards? Please send them along in the comment section of the online version of my column at LGBTweekly.com

Short URL: http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=19113

Posted by on Dec 22, 2011. Filed under Politically Aware. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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