Monday, November 24

The New Civil War

Gays wishing to gain the same rights as us heterosexuals have been dealt some bad breaks recently around the country, Vermont, Connecticut, and Massachusetts notwithstanding. Prop 8 in California is the most widely reported of the marriage defined as between one man and one woman (presumably of legal age) constitutional amendments. But beyond California, Arizona and Florida voters amended their state constitutions and joined the thirty odd states that have banned same sex marriages. Arkansas also made it illegal for gays to adopt.

Clearly the desire by gays and lesbians to have the same rights as the rest of us has hit a snag due to the sticking point about the "sanctity of marriage" being more important than civil rights. In the meantime, it seems shameful that two people in a committed relationship are not able to have the same protections of the law as those of us who are married do. And this is not a small thing, the difference between Civil Union protections and the privileges that accompany marriage are vastly different.

According to a report given to the Office of the General Counsel of the U.S. General Accounting Office, here are a few of the 1,138 benefits the United States government provides to legally married couples:

Access to Military Stores
Assumption of Spouse’s Pension
Bereavement Leave
Insurance Breaks
Medical Decisions on Behalf of Partner
Sick Leave to Care for Partner
Social Security Survivor Benefits
Sick Leave to Care for Partner
Tax Breaks
Veteran’s Discounts
Visitation of Partner in Hospital or Prison

In Iowa, a current court case may help to bridge the differences is based upon equal protection under the law. The idea that people who chose to get married can by the state. This does not mean that a church has to marry a gay or lesbian couple, if it is against their doctrine, but it does mean that gays and lesbians will be afforded the same protections under the law that any married couple has.

This issue causes some to draw a line in the sand and define marriage in terms that ignore the desire for at least 10% of Americans to be afforded the same rights as the other 90% of the rest of us.

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