|Marriage is love.|
Top 10 Reasons for Marriage Equality
10. Marriage equality would build on America’s tradition of moving civil rights forward and erasing the inequities of the past. More than 10 nations already allow same-sex couples to get married or to enter federally recognized domestic partnerships. What’s more, the fact that excluding same-sex couples from marriage has a long history in this country doesn’t necessarily mean that this policy is in keeping with American values. The real tradition in this country has been to pass laws to safeguard the American people and to expand laws where they leave citizens unprotected, as was done for voting rights and workplace protections. It is also an American tradition to abandon discriminatory laws, even if they are popular – as were bans on interracial marriage and Jim Crow laws segregating the races in everyday life.
9. Marriage protects couples nationwide. Unlike civil unions and domestic partner registries, which aren’t portable, marriages are recognized across state lines, under the Constitution’s full faith and credit clause. If the question of recognition is left to the states, same-sex couples in some states might not achieve equality for decades. After all, it wasn’t until 2000 that Alabama voters removed laws against interracial marriage from the state constitution – and that was with a solid 40 percent voting to keep the law on the books.
8. Separate is not equal. Although any step toward legal recognition of same-sex couples and their families is a step in the right direction, GLBT families will not be truly equal until they, too, can receive marriage licenses. As American history has proven, a separate but equal system does not ensure real equality. And nothing short of marriage would provide same-sex couples with the more than 1,000 benefits, responsibilities and protections afforded under federal law on the basis of marital status.
7. Public support is growing. The Human Rights Campaign released results in August 2003 from a poll (conducted by the Democratic polling firm of Peter D. Hart Research Associates and the Republican firm American Viewpoint) showing that 50 percent of registered voters support or accept granting marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples as long as religious institutions do not have to recognize or perform these marriages. A total of 47 percent were opposed. There is no consensus in this country around denying the legal protections of marriage to same-sex couples. In fact, polls show us that a plurality of voters support or accept granting marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples. And, according to a Sept. 22, 2003, ABC News survey, only 20 percent would agree with amending the U.S. Constitution to ban marriage for gays and lesbians.
6. GLBT people deserve equal access to the American dream. Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people grow up dreaming of falling in love, getting married and growing old together. Just as much as the next person, same-sex couples should be able to fulfill that dream. We know from anecdotal evidence that after same-sex couples have a commitment ceremony, their friends and family treat them differently – as a married couple. Shouldn’t they, too, have the legal security that goes along with that?
5. Marriage provides families stability and security. One thing that both sides of the marriage issue can agree upon is that marriage strengthens families. Children are more secure if they are raised in homes with two loving parents who have a legal relationship with them and can share the responsibility of parenthood. According to conservative estimates from the 2000 census, there are more than 1 million children being raised by same-sex couples in the United States. Without the ability to establish a legal relationship to both parents, children of same-sex couples are left without important protections, such as Social Security survivor benefits. These children should not be penalized just because their parents are gay.
4. There are hundreds of ways in which state laws take marital status into account, including some of the most basic of human rights. State laws protect married couples in extremely important ways, such as allowing hospital visitation, the right to inherit without a will and the right to make decisions in a medical emergency. Some of these can be secured through costly legal documents, but not all of them can. Furthermore, same-sex couples – who pay the same taxes and work just as hard as other couples – should not be forced to pay higher taxes and high legal fees just because of whom they love.
3. The Constitution promises liberty and justice to all Americans, not just the majority. Opponents of marriage equality are pushing a divisive measure that would amend the U.S. Constitution to state that marriage “shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman.” The Constitution has been used throughout American history to ensure, protect and expand the individual liberties of Americans. It has never been amended to single out a class of people for unequal treatment, but it has been amended to grant freedom of speech, religious liberty and voting rights for women. The Constitution should secure equality, not restrict it.
2. No religious institution would be required to perform a ceremony. Just as no religious institution can be required by the government to marry an interfaith couple, no religious institution could or should be told to marry a same-sex couple. Right now, the government fails to ensure religious freedom when it refuses to honor the unions of same-sex couples performed by one religion the same way it honors those of opposite-sex couples.
1. There are at least 1,049 protections, benefits and responsibilities extended to married couples under federal law, according to a 1997 study by the General Accounting Office. Gay and lesbian couples in lifelong relationships pay higher taxes and are denied basic protections under the law. They receive no Social Security survivor benefits upon the death of a partner, despite paying payroll taxes. They must pay federal income taxes on their employer’s contributions toward their domestic partner’s health insurance, while married employees do not have to pay such taxes for their spouses. They must pay all estate taxes when a partner dies. They often pay significant tax penalties when they inherit a 401(k) from their partner. They are denied family leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act. All American families deserve these crucial protections.