ARGUING EQUALITY An Interactive Web Guide To Understanding
And Presenting The Case For Same-Sex Marriage
 
CHAPTER 1:
A MATTER OF JUSTICE
Imagine if tomorrow, Congress enacted a law denying Jews the right to raise children together in a legally protected relationship. Or if by act of law, African-American couples who had lived together for years would no longer be permitted joint filing of tax returns, joint policies for their home, health or auto insurance.

Of course, this is a daily reality for millions of gay Americans. While it may not be readily apparent, marriage comes with a host of legal rights — 1,049 to be exact,1 ranging from the ability to collect Social Security survivor’s benefits to the right not to have to testify against a spouse in court. Listed below is a small sampling of some of these rights and benefits, each of which are currently denied to gay couples:

The freedom to marry has long been recognized women seeking women in nc as one of the vital personal rights essential women seeking women in philadelphia to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men.

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– U.S. Supreme Court Justice women seeking women jhb Earl Warren, writing for the majority in Loving v. Virginia

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  • Priority in being appointed guardian of an incapacitated spouse or in being recognized as acting for an incapacitated spouse in making health care decisions
  • The right to invoke special state protection for “intrafamily offenses.”
  • The right to receive, or the obligation to provide, spousal support and (in the event of divorce) alimony and an equitable division of property.
  • The right to receive additional Social Security benefits based on a spouse’s contribution.
  • The right to spousal benefits guaranteed to public employees, including health insurance, life insurance and disability payments, plus similar contractual benefits for private sector employees.
  • The right to survivor’s benefits following the death of a veteran spouse.
  • Numerous rights relating to the involuntary hospitalization of a spouse, including the right to be notified, and the right to initiate proceedings leading to release.
  • The right to conjugal visits with a spouse who is incarcerated in prison.
  • The right to priority in claiming human remains and in making anatomical donations on behalf of a deceased spouse.
  • The right for a non-American spouse to qualify as an “immediate relative” and gain American citizenship under federal law.
  • The right to bring a lawsuit for the wrongful death of a spouse and for the intentional infliction of emotional distress through harm to a spouse.
  • The right to file a joint bankruptcy petition with a spouse.
  • The right to 59 distinct income tax deductions, credits, and exemptions.
  • A multitude of inheritance rights, including priority in inheriting the property of a spouse who dies without a will, the right to a familyallowance, and the right to dower.1

1According to the Government Accounting women seeking women in miami Office, there are 1,049 federal statutes women seeking women johannesburg which confer legal rights or benefits women seeking women in philadelphia on married couples.
But note that this number is limited to federal women seeking women in los angeles law, and each state has its own unique body of law which extends additional women seeking women in charlotte nc rights to married couples.
In Massachusetts women seeking women in charlotte nc, for example, over 500 state statutes provide benefits women seeking women jhb for married couples beyond women seeking women johannesburg the 1,049 already provided by the federal women seeking women in nashville government.



The denial of these rights women seeking women in miami to gay and lesbian couples is no academic matter women seeking women in charlotte nc – it has palpable consequences women seeking women in nashville in everyday lives. Take, for example, the case of Holly Gunner women seeking women in los angeles, who began advocating for the right to marry when she came to realize women seeking women in nc that, in the eyes of the law, lifelong gay and lesbian couples could be treated women seeking women louisville as little more than roommates.

 

Following the death of Eileen, her partner of fifteen women seeking women in los angeles years, Holly discovered that she did not have the legal women seeking women johannesburg authority to carry out Eileen’s wishes to be cremated women seeking women johannesburg. In fact, she came to discover that doctors could women seeking women in nc even have barred her from seeing her dying spouse women seeking women in nc in the hospital. At work, Holly was not permitted women seeking women johannesburg to take bereavement leave. Then she was forced to pay taxes on Eileen’s women seeking women in miami property without any benefit of a marital tax deduction women seeking women louisville, and to make matters worse, even though Holly inherited most of Eileen’s women seeking women in nc estate, Eileen’s family refused to permit her to be the administrator of the estate women seeking women in miami.

As if this wasn’t [sic] all galling enough women seeking women in philadelphia,” Holly later women seeking women in nashville told a reporter, “it was happening at the most painful, awful women seeking women in miami time in my life.”1 2 women seeking women louisville Holly’s story provides women seeking women in philadelphia a stark reminder that granting 1,049 federal rights and privileges women seeking women in los angeles to one class of persons and categorically women seeking women in philadelphia denying them to another is a gross violation of fundamental women seeking women in miami principles of equality. The fight for equal access to the institution women seeking women louisville of marriage is a fight for justice. Indeed, if our constitution’s promise women seeking women in nc of “equal protection under the law” stands for anything women seeking women in nashville, it surely stands for the principle that if lesbian, gay, bisexual women seeking women in miami and transgender citizens work and pay taxes, then they deserve women seeking women in nc the same financial and other benefits that all other women seeking women in los angeles Americans receive.2 3

On February women seeking women kolkata 27, 2004, Rosie O’Donnell traveled to San Francisco to wed her partner, Kelli women seeking women in miami Carpenter. Appearing on Good Morning America women seeking women in los angeles, she explained that previously, during a court battle with the publisher women seeking women in nc of Rosie magazine, O’Donnell’s women seeking women in charlotte nc attorneys requested that communications between her and her partner women seeking women kansas city be excluded from testimony. Although communications between women seeking women johannesburg a husband and wife routinely receive this “spousal women seeking women in philadelphia privilege,” the court rejected her request. “As women seeking women kansas city a result,” O’Donnell explained, “everything women seeking women in los angeles that I said to Kelli, every letter that I wrote her, every e-mail, every women seeking women in los angeles correspondence and conversation was entered into the record women seeking women in miami. After the trial, I am now and will forever be a total women seeking women johannesburg proponent of gay marriage.” 4

Although San Francisco has issued numerous women seeking women in los angeles marriage licenses to same-sex couples women seeking women in philadelphia since Valentine’s Day 2004, it is as of yet unclear whether these women seeking women in philadelphia licenses will be deemed valid by the state of California women seeking women in philadelphia.

O’Donnell Weds Carpenter

1Holly and Eileen did not raise children, but for gay and lesbian couples who do the death of one partner often has infinitely compounded consequences. Since the couple can not marry, only one of the two parents can have legal custody of the child (with the exception of a small minority of states which allow joint-parent adoption). If the legal parent dies, the non-adoptive parent faces a legal nightmare in retaining custody of their child or even gaining visitation rights, despite the fact that they may have been raising the child for years.

 

2POINT-COUNTERPOINT SHADED BOX: Note that oftentimes, gay couples with the economic means can contract for some of the privileges and protections of marriage through wills, living wills, health care proxies and powers of attorney. But even the wealthiest of couples can still only contract for a handful of the rights associated with marriage – they could not, for instance, contract for tax exemptions or the right to conjugal visits with a spouse in prison. Additionally, the documents are expensive, and must be custom-tailored to meet the specific circumstances of an individual couple. The inevitable result? Denying gay people the right to marry impacts poor and working class Americans the hardest.



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