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Post  Roi on Wed Mar 27, 2013 1:31 pm


The aggrieved party
Mar 26th 2013, 21:37 by R.M. | WASHINGTON, DC

TODAY the Supreme Court heard the first day of oral arguments in a case that could decide the future of gay marriage in America. This comes amidst an ongoing sea change in public opinion on the issue. As an increasing number of politicians come out in favour of gay marriage, polls show growing public approval for expanding access to the institution. A recent Washington Post/ABC News poll pegged support at 58% (and over 80% for those under 30).

This has put gay marriage opponents on the back foot. Some, like Austin Nimocks, argue that although the public is moving in favour of gay marriage, the decision should be left up to the states. "Let democracy work", says Mr Nimocks, who is co-counsel on the legal team defending Proposition 8 before the court today. He believes the issue of gay marriage should be "examined by all of society over the course of decades".

That, of course, is an easy argument to make by those not injured by the discriminatory policy. Ted Olson and David Boies, arguing the other side of the case, counter, "For one to say that the Supreme Court should leave the question of marriage equality to the political processes of the states is to say that states should remain free to discriminate—to impose this pain and humiliation on gay men and lesbians and their children—for as long as they wish, without justification."

As more studies disprove claims of familial instability and societal wreckage resulting from gay marriage, those who would ban it have fallen back on other arguments. The latest is the let-democracy-work one, which implies that states have a right to prohibit gays from participating in marriage, and that such discrimination does not run counter to the 14th amendment. The latter contention is rather unconvincing, so there is often a corollary: the claim that the aggrieved party in this exchange may not be gays but straight married couples.

This is often put in terms similar to those used by Andrew Ferguson, a writer for the Weekly Standard, who claims that if the state allows gays to wed, marriage "will not be the same institution that has won the unanimous endorsement of social scientists. It will be a novel and revolutionary institution owing its existence to the devaluation of an old and settled one." Old and settled? The idea that marriage has been one unitary and unchanging institution over time is ridiculous. The allowance of interracial marriage, no-fault divorce and marriage outside of the church have all changed the institution. But mostly I just pity Mr Ferguson's wife if he really feels that his relationship will be devalued should gays be allowed to wed.

It seems odd in an age when divorce, cohabitation and alternative family structures are so common, that the desire of gay people to actually take the binding vows of marriage would be considered a threat. If anything, the desire of gays to participate strikes me as a boon for this declining institution. Those who call gay marriage a "radical social experiment" must ask themselves what is so radical about bringing an existing homosexual relationship (the seemingly radical part, which isn't going away) into this traditional social structure. Megan McArdle has it right when she says that gay marriage would be "a landmark victory for the forces of staid, bourgeois sexual morality."

There is an odd bit of circular reasoning that tends to afflict the arguments of gay-marriage opponents. It goes something like this: because I oppose gay marriage, the institution of marriage as I see it will be irreparably harmed by the inclusion of gays, therefore continued discrimination is necessary in order to not offend my own discriminatory views. Seeing as there is little reason to think gay marriage will have any palpable effect on straight marriages, this is a problem opponents of gay marriage must work out in their own minds—it is not a good basis for law, nor is it an excuse for timid judicial decision-making.

That brings me back to today's hearing, from which observers came away thinking the court would produce a limited opinion (but who knows really). It would be a shame if this resulted from a feeling amongst the justices that it is too soon for gay marriage, that the court must wait for more of the public to grow out of their unreasonable fears. That would be to misidentify the aggrieved party in this case. There is only one—gays who want to marry—and for this reason the court can discount the potential of a Roe v Wade backlash to a broader decision. Some curmudgeons may never come to accept gay marriage, but they will soon realise that their own marriages are no more affected by the practice than by their own bigotry. For all but the hardcore opponents, there is simply no reason for this to become a long-term fight.


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Gay Marriage Stuff  Empty Marriage benefits

Post  Roi on Thu Apr 04, 2013 9:25 am

Retrieved from

Whether or not you favor marriage as a social institution, there's no denying that it confers many rights, protections, and benefits -- both legal and practical. Some of these vary from state to state, but the list typically includes:

Tax Benefits
Filing joint income tax returns with the IRS and state taxing authorities.
Creating a "family partnership" under federal tax laws, which allows you to divide business income among family members.

Estate Planning Benefits
Inheriting a share of your spouse's estate.
Receiving an exemption from both estate taxes and gift taxes for all property you give or leave to your spouse.
Creating life estate trusts that are restricted to married couples, including QTIP trusts, QDOT trusts, and marital deduction trusts.
Obtaining priority if a conservator needs to be appointed for your spouse -- that is, someone to make financial and/or medical decisions on your spouse's behalf.

Government Benefits
Receiving Social Security, Medicare, and disability benefits for spouses.
Receiving veterans' and military benefits for spouses, such as those for education, medical care, or special loans.
Receiving public assistance benefits.

Employment Benefits
Obtaining insurance benefits through a spouse's employer.
Taking family leave to care for your spouse during an illness.
Receiving wages, workers' compensation, and retirement plan benefits for a deceased spouse.
Taking bereavement leave if your spouse or one of your spouse's close relatives dies.

Medical Benefits
Visiting your spouse in a hospital intensive care unit or during restricted visiting hours in other parts of a medical facility.
Making medical decisions for your spouse if he or she becomes incapacitated and unable to express wishes for treatment.

Death Benefits
Consenting to after-death examinations and procedures.
Making burial or other final arrangements.

Family Benefits
Filing for stepparent or joint adoption.
Applying for joint foster care rights.
Receiving equitable division of property if you divorce.
Receiving spousal or child support, child custody, and visitation if you divorce.

Housing Benefits
Living in neighborhoods zoned for "families only."
Automatically renewing leases signed by your spouse.

Consumer Benefits
Receiving family rates for health, homeowners', auto, and other types of insurance.
Receiving tuition discounts and permission to use school facilities.
Other consumer discounts and incentives offered only to married couples or families.

Other Legal Benefits and Protections
Suing a third person for wrongful death of your spouse and loss of consortium (loss of intimacy).
Suing a third person for offenses that interfere with the success of your marriage, such as alienation of affection and criminal conversation (these laws are available in only a few states).
Claiming the marital communications privilege, which means a court can't force you to disclose the contents of confidential communications between you and your spouse during your marriage.
Receiving crime victims' recovery benefits if your spouse is the victim of a crime.
Obtaining immigration and residency benefits for noncitizen spouse.
Visiting rights in jails and other places where visitors are restricted to immediate family.

Same-Sex Marriage, Civil Unions, and Domestic Partnerships
If you are in a same-sex marriage in one of the states where same-sex marriage is allowed (Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, and D.C.), or if you are in a domestic partnership or civil union in any of the states that offer those relationship options, none of the benefits of marriage under federal law will apply to you, because the federal government does not recognize these same-sex relationships. For example, you may not file joint federal income tax returns with your partner, even if your state allows you to file taxes jointly. And other federal benefits, such as Social Security death benefits and COBRA continuation insurance coverage, may not apply.


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