If one thing became clear from the torrent of reaction I received after my March 8 column, “A Whole New Meaning For Gay Life,” it is that the readership of this publication is as polarized as the population of this country as a whole.

There was a lot of negative reaction, of course, with people saying they were disgusted and outraged. And then there was positive reinforcement, along the lines of great stuff, give us more.

I invite you to see a sampling of these reactions on page 57 of this issue. These are among the ones that are printable. (Yes, many were not printable.)

I had hoped to include anonymous excerpts from the unprintable ones in this column to give you a feel for what it is like to be a lightning rod, in case youve never had the experience.

Unfortunately, technology demons made this impossible. Earlier this month our company e-mail system experienced an unprecedented meltdown, one of the effects of which was to eliminate all e-mail from the month of March.

I had very carefully saved the responses in a folder, never thinking they would come into harms way. Then, poof. (Come to think of it that may not be the best expression.) Then, gone, all gone. And while our crack tech support staff is still diligently trying to recover the month of March, hope is dwindling. So, next time Ill knowprint them out so you have the hard copies.

Nonetheless, I think its worth going over some of the main reactions as I remember them. One thing that outraged many people was my comment about President Bush. (No, Im not going to repeat it; go to the March 8 issue if youre interested.)

Some people supported the President on a Constitutional amendment that would effectively ban gay marriages. Others said politics or political comments have no place in an insurance publication.

I have to say I am mystified by comments like this. Insurance is a very political business in a very political world. To assume otherwise is simply to consign oneself to being the equivalent of the bubble boy on “Seinfeld.”

But I think what those readers really mean is that politics they dont agree with have no place in an insurance publication. Yet, if readers dont agree with something in the pages of NU, they have always had the forum of Letters to the Editor. We have never been shy about printing letters that blast us. (See last weeks issue and this weeks for proof of that.)

Another faction of e-mailers termed the column “sick” or said it evidenced “sick thinking.” And let me not forget the grace notes to these e-mails, those voicemails left in dead voices, calling me “sick” (or worse) and saying I would be sorry. Scary stuff out there.

On the other hand, there was the e-mail from an insurance company officer who said he had been with his partner for 28 years and “would go to work for that insurance company in a minute.”

There was also the e-mail from an advisor who said she felt there was a great unmet need and has had a lot of success helping gays and lesbians with planning.

The fact is that social issues dont disappear just because some people dont want to deal with them. The issue of planning for same-sex couples is one that an individual advisor may choose not to pursue, but that does not mean it will either go away or should not be covered by, yes, an insurance publication.

On the morning I am writing this I received an e-mail from the American College, announcing in their words, a “groundbreaking event to discuss issues and concerns vital to the financial welfare of gay and lesbian families.” This is a one-day seminar called “Same Sex Couples: Key Financial and Estate Planning Issues.”

To the American College, I say, Bravo! I just hope that any CLUs angered by this gesture dont turn in their designations the way some readers cancelled their subscriptions to NU. Theyand their clients–would be the poorer for it.

Steve Piontek

Editor-in-Chief


Reproduced from National Underwriter Edition, April 16, 2004. Copyright 2004 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.