Same-sex marriage debate

By on October 31, 2002

No one uses the term “straight marriage.”
The marriage discrimination faced by same-sex couples is discrimination based on their sex, not their orientation. Homosexuals can get legally married – as long as they marry an opposite-sex partner.
The fight of same sex couples is for the same access to legal marriage as all other citizens have.
Legal marriage is universally denied to same-sex couples in many countries throughout the world. By definition, legal marriage is a contract defined by individual states only available to the joining of a man and a woman.
Some of the laws dealing with legal marriage include burial determination, joint adoption and foster care, sick leave to care for partner and visitation of partner in hospital or prison.
These laws treat the family as a legal unit, which is important during times of crisis such as a divorce or a family emergency.
The fight for equal rights in same-sex marriages is for these laws to be applied in the same situations purely in the legal sense of the term “marriage.”
There are, however, two different avenues for same-sex couples concerning the topic of marriage.
Some states allow domestic partnership registration or ceremonial marriages. Registration is a means by which some states allow same-sex couples to go on public record as a non-married couple. This union offerw little benefits but can be used to establish legal responsibility for debts.
The second avenue is a ceremonial marriage, which is possible almost everywhere in the world. In this ceremony, religious officials oversee the signing of marriage contracts, which carry no legal benefits or responsibilities.
Most same-sex couples opt for a ceremonial marriage because it allows them to design and experience the traditional wedding ceremony.
The Netherlands became the first nation to offer legal marriage to same-sex couples. Full legal marriage licenses are offered to citizens or legal residents.
No other state or country in the world allows same-sex legal marriages or offer the same protection in those unions.
On April 26, 2000, Vermont Governor Howard Dean signed a bill allowing same-sex unions in his state. The bill allows gay couples to form “civil unions” that provide them with a wide range of benefits previously available only to heterosexual married couples.
Vermont is the only state in the United States offering a legal civil union.
Connecticut passed a law recently that allowed civil unions between same-sex couples, giving them visitation rights in the hospital.
Same-sex couples are gaining more and more rights even though it does not compare to those of heterosexual marriages. There is still a long way to go in this debate.


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