Arguments For: Equal rights for all families
Contrary to these arguments are supporters of same sex marriages who argue that anti-discrimination laws did not go far enough in creating equality among different sexual orientations. By not allowing gay men and women to enter same sex marriages the government is denying them rights given to heterosexual couples. Even in states which allow same sex marriages, discrimination will not be eliminated until the federal government acknowledges those marriages.
The lack of federal acknowledgment is discriminatory because it prevents married gay men and women from having the 1,138 federal rights given to heterosexual marriages including:
- Social Security benefits upon death, disability or retirement of spouse, as well as benefits for minor children.
- Family and Medical Leave protections to care for a new child or sick/ injured family member.
- Workers’ Compensation protections for the family of a worker injured on the job.
- Access to COBRA insurance benefits so the family doesn’t lose health insurance when one spouse is laid off.
- Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) protections such as the ability to leave a pension, other than Social Security, to your spouse.
- Exemptions from penalties on IRA and pension rollovers.
- Exemptions from estate taxes when a spouse dies.
- Exemptions from federal income taxes on spouse’s health insurance.
- The right to visit a sick or injured loved one, have a say in life and death matters during hospitalization 11
Even state level civil unions fail to recreate these rights to any extent because there is no state level equivalent. Social Security benefits, tax exemptions, shared property rights, and decision making/ visitation rights during hospitalization are real consequences of federally recognized marriage. These inequalities affect the quality of life of same sex families by preventing children and spouses from having access to extended healthcare insurance provided by the other spouse’s employment, a right protected for heterosexual marriages. Continue reading