Get the Facts! Because, Marriage Matters...
FACT = something that actually exists, reality, truth.
Marriage equality is an issue that often sparks intense emotions, both in those who are working for equality, and in those who oppose it. The institution of marriage is also surrounded by a great deal of assumption and mythology. It behooves us all to Get the Facts before discussing marriage equality. We hope that reading through Get the Facts will prove useful and answer your questions. If you have additional questions, would like to correct something we have posted, or can suggest additonal content that you think is important, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Marriage offers many legal benefits and responsibilities that protect families. It also provides societal status and emotional benefits. Here are just a fraction of the reasons why marriage matters to couples who choose/desire to marry.
- In times of crisis, spouses have hospital visitation rights and can make medical decisions in event of illness or disability of their spouse.
- Employers offer spouses sick leave, bereavement leave, access to health insurance and pension
- The law provides certain automatic rights to a person's spouse regardless of whether or not a will exists.
- Married couples in elderly care facilities are generally not separated unless one spouse's health dictates hospitalization or special care.
- The dissolution of a marriage requires a determination of property distribution, award of child custody and support and spousal support. Absent divorce, there is no uniform system for sorting out the ending of a relationship.
Financial issues are complex and challenging, no matter the couple. When home ownership, kids and other assets are a part of the equation, planning for the present and especially the future is even more critical for greater security.
- Married couples are permitted to give an unlimited amount of gifts to each other without being taxed.
- The law presumes that a married couple with both names on the title to their home owns the property as "tenants by the entirety."
- A married couple, by statute, has creditor protection of their marital home.
- Many married people are entitled to financial benefits relating to their spouses, such as disability, pension and social security benefits.
- With marriage, a couple has the right to be treated as an economic unit and to file joint tax returns (and pay the marriage penalty), and obtain joint health, home and auto insurance policies.
- When a spouse dies, there is no need to prove ownership of every item in the household for taxable purposes.
- A child who grows up with married parents benefits from the fact that his or her parents' relationship is recognized by law and receives legal protections.
- Spouses are generally entitled to joint child custody and visitation upon divorce (and bear an obligation to pay child support).
- The mark of a strong family and healthy children is having parents who are nurturing, caring, and loving. Parents should be judged on their ability to parent, not by their age, race, religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity.
A study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, entitled The Effects of Marriage, Civil Union, and Domestic Partnership Laws on the Health and Well-being of Children found that:
- Same-gender couples live in 99.3% of all US counties.
- Same-gender couples are raising children in at least 96% of all US counties.
- Nearly one quarter of all same-gender couples are raising children.
- Nationwide, 34.3% of lesbian couples are raising children, and 22.3% of gay male couples are raising children (compared with 45.6% of married heterosexual and 43.1% of unmarried heterosexual couples raising children).
- Vermont has the largest aggregation of same gender-couples (~1% of all households) followed by California, Washington, Massachusetts, and Oregon.
According to this 2006 study Census 2000 and related demographic research make it clear that parenting by same-gender couples is an established and growing part of the diverse structure of families in the United States. Public policies that aim to promote family stability and security typically are established without consideration for same-gender parents and their children, and they place these families at a disadvantage, as they do heterosexual unmarried parents, single parents, and extended-family caregivers. Public policy designed to promote the family as the basic building block of society has at its core the protection of children's health and well-being. Children's well being relies in large part on a complex blend of their own legal rights and the rights derived, under law, from their parents. Children of same-gender parents often experience economic, legal, and familial insecurity as a result of the absence of legal recognition of their bonds to their nonbiological parents. Current public-policy trends, with notable exceptions, favor limiting or prohibiting the availability of civil marriage and limiting rights and protections to same-gender couples.
The Healthy Advantage
- For adults, a stable, happy marriage is the best protector against illness and premature death. Decades of research have clearly established these links. (Burman & Margolin, 1992; Dawson, 1991; Verbrugge, 1979).
- Studies on marriages have found that married people live longer, have higher incomes and wealth, engage less in risky behaviors, eat healthier, and have fewer psychological problems than unmarried people. (Waite, Linda J. Why Marriage Matters Strengthening Marriage Roundtable. Washington, DC, June 1997)
- Research shows that unmarried couples have lower levels of happiness and well-being than married couples. (Popenoe, David and Dafoe Whitehead, Barbara, USA Today, July, 2000)
- A recent study shows that denying same-sex couples the right to marry has a negative impact on their mental health - I Do, But I can't: The impact of marriage denial on the mental health of sexual citizenship of Lesbians and Gay Men in the United States (Herdt, G. & Kertzner, R. 2006).