Some of my straight friends and family have asked recently, “why it is so important for same-sex couples to get legally married on the federal level?” They really don’t understand why domestic partnerships or marriage at the state level is not fair/good enough. It really is astonishing how many straight, married people take their rights for granted the day they say “I do”. I try to drill into their heads that there are over 1,000 rights straight-married couples have that same-sex couples will not be given until marriage on the federal level becomes a reality for them. My partner suggested I make a simple chart outlining some of those benefits, so here it is.
It is extremely important to keep in mind that the categories Marriage by State benefits and Domestic Partner benefits only apply while the couple resides within the state that they signed legal papers in. Because other states do not recognize their legal relationship as soon as they leave the state they reside in, or even visit another state, the couple loses their legal rights such as hospital visitation rights, medical decision rights or step-parent adoption rights. They are only recognized as “two same-sex people who are in a relationship” – period.
Also, many of the rights listed in the chart for domestic-partnerships are rights that are granted by the company a person works for – not the state. Companies have the right to set its policies on what it will or will not include in domestic-partnership rights. These rights can be granted in states which there are no marriage or domestic-partnership laws.
If you want to know which companies have broad domestic-partnerships rights and which do not, check out my blog post Support Companies that Support Equality.
I’ve tried to keep this list short because the reasoning behind it is to get the point across that domestic-partnerships and marriages at the state level are nowhere near equal to (straight) marriage at the federal level. This is why we fight. This is why it is so important to realized that Separate is Not Equal.
Tuesday wrapped up day 11 in the trial to overturn Prop. 8 in California. If you missed my previous post you can catch it here @ Prop 8 Is it really still legal to openly discriminate?. I will admit – I have not read the trial word for word. I have gathered a few sources, as should everyone.
On Monday, the defense started calling their witnesses. First witness, Prof. Kenneth Miller of Claremont McKenna College. What is Claremont McKenna? Apparently, it is a liberal arts college in Claremont, Calif. It was an all male institution until 1976, and now has a staggering enrollment of 1,000 students. Long story, very short, he turned out to not be an expert at all and knew very little about the LGBT community or its causes. Good one, defense!
The second witness for the defense was called on Tuesday. David Blankenhorn, President of Institute for American Values. He contends that the main purpose of marriage is for pro-creation. Which leads me back to my point, does that mean heterosexual couples who cannot or do not want children should not have the right to marry? What about those 1000+ rights that come with marriage? Would it be okay if we took those away since marriage is about pro-creation? Let’s get rid of all the benefits of being married; the reduced taxes, the right for your spouse to speak for you if you are deathly ill in the hospital, your survivorship social security benefits, the ability to join your spouses health care plan tax free, and so on.
So what if gays and lesbians want to have a stable family? There are no studies that show being raised in a heterosexual household leads to better raised children than those who grow up in a homosexual household. Would it not be better if children were raised by two loving adults without being treated like second class citizens? I think so.
Mr. Blankenship, along with what seems to be most Prop. 8 supporters, also feels that if same-sex marriage is legal that it will be an open door for polygamy too. Really? Oh yes and even bestiality was being conveyed in Yes on Prop 8 commercials. It really is hard to argue with such idiotic points. These are nothing more than scare tactics that have no merit. If heterosexual marriages have not lead to the approval of polygamy, then why would homosexual marriages lead to the approval of polygamy?
He also testified that allowing same-sex marriage would lead to a higher rate of divorce. Somebody needs to show him the stats in Massachusetts. Since same-sex marriage has been legal, divorce rates have been on the decline. So why is he an expert? Maybe he is not an expert on same-sex marriage, but he may very well be an expert on marriage. I borrowed the below quote straight from Mr. Blakenhorn’s website http://center.americanvalues.org/.
“MARRIAGE IS an important social good, associated with an impressively broad array of positive outcomes for children and adults alike. Marriage is an important public good, associated with a range of economic, health, educational, and safety benefits that help local, state, and federal governments serve the common good.
— Sixteen social scientists, Why Marriage Matters, Second Edition: Twenty-Six Conclusions
from the Social Sciences, 2005”
Doesn’t everyone deserve a range of economic, health, educational, and safety benefits??
Last week, the trial began where two same-sex couples are suing over the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8. In case you missed it, Proposition 8 voters passed in 2008 – by a vote of 52% – stating that only a marriage between a man and a woman is valid in the state of California.
The Judge has banned the trial from being aired on television or the internet, however, there are many places you can read about the trial as it is happening live.
The plaintiff’s side is pretty clear, Equal Treatment. The defendant’s say they are trying to protect traditional marriage, and protect children.
Let’s start off by asking what do they mean by traditional marriage? I know, one man-one woman. It seems to me that many (not all but enough to mention it) traditional marriages end up in divorce. Many caused by infidelity. Let’s name a few political figures who are strong opponents of same-sex marriage and also have been not following their guidelines for “protecting traditional marriage”. A few examples, Mark Sanford the Governor of South Carolina, Michael Duvall former California Assemblyman, Newt Gingrich former House speaker, and Congressman Joe Pitts of Pennsylvania– just to name a few. All are opponents of same-sex marriage, all have admittedly had extramarital affairs.
Then there’s the traditional argument of protecting the children. This is not even a valid debate. Marriage does not equal children. My partner and I want very much to get married, and it’s very unlikely we will ever have children. I have friends, who are opposite-sex married people, who do not want children. Are they following the guidelines of a traditional couple? I don’t think they were required to have children before they could marry, nor do they have to pro-create to stay married. If you did have to pro-create to be married, then would that mean people who are physically unable to bear children would not be allowed to marry? Even if they are an opposite-sex couple?
If you really want to protect children, then you should be a supporter of same-sex marriage. By not allowing same-sex couples to marry – you only harm those children who have same-sex parents. First, you are saying to them that they are not accepted because their parents are not accepted. Second, by only allowing one parent to be legally responsible for their child, you could be taking away that child’s protection. What if the non-legally responsible parent is the one that works while the legal parent is a stay-at-home parent? That child would not be covered under their working parents health insurance. What if the legally responsible parent dies? Would you want that child to go into a group home system? Would you not want that child to have access to their parents’ social security benefits-no matter what their parent’s sexual orientation is?
By not allowing same-sex marriages, opponents are openly discriminating against same-sex couples. Making them feel as though they are second class citizens. What is being said to gay and lesbian youth is that they are not equal and that they are not treated equally. This can lead to depression, substance abuse, and suicide. I speak from personal experience.
As a closeted-lesbian youth in my teens, I struggled greatly with my sexuality. I often thought of taking my own life. I thought I would never be accepted. Luckily for me – I am stronger than that. Children should never feel that way. If you really want to protect children, then let them know that they are equal.
If you really want to protect marriage, look to Massachusetts where same-sex marriage is legal. Massachusetts has the lowest rate of divorce in the country and they are continuing to decline in comparison to any other state in the U.S. I’m not saying that same-sex couples will never divorce, but they should have the option.
We shall see what happens over the next few weeks in California. You know I have a lot more to say about this subject and can pretty much guarantee I will be writing more on it soon.