For years, same-sex couples pursued the same right to happiness in the institution of marriage that provides benefits and protections currently given only to heterosexual couples. The strongest adversary had been the conservative right wing fundamentalists who are determined to block same-sex marriages by adding an amendment to the United States Constitution defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman. As an alternative, a few states have offered civil unions or domestic partnership laws. Unfortunately, these options still do not provide same-sex couples all the rights, benefits, and legal protection of a legal civil marriage. Gay activists, some civil rights leaders, churches, ministers, and many of the American public believe to deny any adult of legal age the right to enter into the contract of marriage is a breach of both the individual human and civil rights.
There are many reasons why same-sex couples should have the right to legal marriage. In the 2000, U.S. Census report conducted by the Urban Institute and the Human Rights Campaign estimated that 3.1 million people living together in same-sex relations in the United States. Many have been in a committed relationship for twenty or more years, bought homes and cars, are working, paying taxes, serving in the military and raising children, yet the benefits and protections from marriage continue to be a heterosexual couple’s exclusive right. Same-sex couples continue to fight for rights such as being able to visit their sick or injured loved ones in the hospital, or taking family leave from their job to care for a seriously ill partner. Doctors can deny partners in a same-sex relationship access to vital medical information that could help save the life of the other partner. In addition, the hospital can also deny them access to the room to comfort and be with their dying partner. Even the tax codes force partners in a same-sex relationship to pay estate tax on property they inherit from their deceased partner. Same-sex couples are often encouraged to have a lawyer draw up legal documents to protect them in the event of a problem. However, there are no legal documents to enforce the Federal family and medical leave act, nor will legal documents address the inequities of the Federal Medicaid law that protects the spouses in a heterosexual marriage from eviction when Medicaid coverage pays for Nursing Home Care for the other spouse and do nothing for same-sex couples.
In addition, and one of the most important difference is that they fail to provide same-sex couples the 1,100 Federal rights and protections given married couples according to the government accounting office. For same-sex couples, legalizing same-sex marriage would allow them the benefit of file joint tax returns and enable them to take advantage of the tax laws reserved for married couples. Recognizing same-sex couple’s as a family unit and allowing them to file taxes jointly would save taxpayers. Marriage requires couples to take on the legal responsibility for joint living expenses and care of one another.
The human interpretation of the scriptures created the chains that enslaved blacks, oppressed women and is now targeting members of the gay and lesbian community. Yet, as a nation governed by the constitution and believing in the separation of church and state, the ambiguousness of the Bible make it unacceptable as the tool to define human civil liberties for all people. To guide America through these issues, the authors of the constitution established the principle of separation of church and state. When the government and the church cross paths as they have now on this issue, that the United States of America must remember their responsibility is to protect the civil rights and civil liberties of its people.
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