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This blog is a hate-free place, dedicated to the spreading of awareness and understanding of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) Community, their shame experiences and their potential to be resilient. Our goal is to increase your empathy and compassion.

We do not claim to be experts on this topic, however, we recognize the importance of sharing what we can in the hope that at least one person feels compelled to re-evaluate their thoughts, feelings and perceptions.

Monday, June 9, 2008

An Elephant, a Donkey, and Gay Marriage

On May 15, 2008 the California Supreme Court ruled that it would allow same-sex couples to legally marry, with all the same rights afforded to heterosexual couples. As of this point only one other state, Massachusetts, allows actual marriage between homosexual couples. This is a landmark triumph for the Gay Rights Movement. Couples can begin getting married June 17th.

However, the victory could be short-lived as conservatives in the state are pushing even harder for a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage to appear on California ballots in November. Such an amendment would override the Supreme Courts decision and nullify any marriages performed up to that point.

The video below features Republican Presidential Candidate John McCain on the Ellen DeGeneres show after this decision was made. He makes his stance very clear, and, we think, Ellen is as cool as ever.

The current happenings in California are one of many results from the long-winded debate about establishing marital rights or denying marital rights to same-sex couples all across the country. Aside from John McCain viewpoints, some politicians support civil unions or domestic partnerships, and wish to continue to reserve the term "marriage" for opposite-sex couples. But, what happened to equal rights among all? To allude to what Ellen said, marriage is marriage and love is love...whether your attracted to a person of the opposite-sex or the same-sex...its all the same.

So, what's the premise of this debate?

1. "Same-sex marriage" means legal marriage between people of the same sex. Massachusetts issues marriage licenses to same-sex couples (since 2004), and now, California has joined the bandwagon.

2. "Civil union" is a category of law that was created to extend rights to same-sex couples. These rights are recognized only in the state where the couple resided. Currently, civil unions are recognized in Vermont (since 2000), Connecticut (since 2005), New Jersey (since 2006), and New Hampshire (since 2007).

3. "Domestic partnership" is a new category of law that was created to extend rights to unmarried couples, including (but not necessarily limited to) same-sex couples. Laws vary among states, cities, and countries. Across the U.S., Hawaii, Maine, Oregon, Washington, and the District of Columbia confer certain spousal rights to same-sex couples.

In conclusion, the most significant difference between marriage and civil unions (or domestic partnerships) is that only marriage offers federal benefits and protections. More than 1,100 rights and protections are conferred to U.S. citizens upon marriage (areas affected include Social Security benefits, veterans' benefits, health insurance, Medicaid, hospital visitation, estate taxes, retirement savings, pensions, family leave, and immigration law). Because same-sex marriages in Massachusetts, civil unions, and domestic partnerships are not federally recognized, any benefits available at the state or local level are subject to federal taxation.

What's your opinion?

Visit the Human Rights Campaign Website (
http://www.hrc.org/) for more information on current issues in your state and how you can get involved.