Recently I noticed an abundance of = marks as my friends profile pictures on Facebook. These were in response to the US Supreme Court Hearing on the Defense of Marriage Act, DOMA, and Proposition 8. No matter what your opinion on the issue one thing is sure… this is quite the heated debate, and someone is bound to get upset about the outcome. Everyone is aware of the gay marriage issue in the United States, but many are unaware of the scale of the issue in the entire world.
On April 23 France legalized same sex marriage or marriage pour tous as the French call it. The French President of the Socialist Party Francois Hollande supports same sex marriage just as our President Obama does. We can see the result of legalizing same sex marriage in France from the recent outbreak of violence in France.
France which produced many of the prominent Enlightenment Thinkers invented the idea of “laicité” or French Secularism. Created in the late 19 century this concept specifically separated the Catholic Church and State. Now France goes by the 1905 Law of Separation of Church and State. The whole issue of allowing same sex marriage has erupted France into a conflict between supporters and opposition of same sex marriage.
There were two issues focused on in the legalization of same sex marriage in France. The first issue is extending all the legal benefits of marriage that heterosexual couples enjoy to same sex couples. The second issue is allowing same sex couples to adopt. The second issue has raised the largest debate. Many protesters have voiced their opinions that allowing same sex couples adopt will be an “injustice for children.” All of this opposition has stemmed from deep heated conservatism in France.
Same sex marriage has caused an explosion of debate in politics and lifestyle recently. Many people debate the issue. The one thing that is certain is that it is not right to discriminate against a specific group of people, and lessen their legal rights in a situation just because they are different. Gay and Lesbian couples should have the same legal rights if they choose to be together. Much of the debate stems from the use of the word marriage. This is a term that carries much meaning to devout religious people throughout the world. The term civil union has been coined in Vermont and other states, and is meant to get around the sensitivity of using the word marriage. However, couples that are brought together in Civil Unions versus Marriages have all the legal advantages gained on the state level, but the Federal Government doesn’t allow couples brought together in civil unions to share any of the benefits they allow couples brought together in marriage.
A couple that is married has 1,138 federal rights, protections, and responsibilities these range from:
- Social Security benefits upon death, disability or retirement of spouse, as well as benefits for minor children.
- Family and Medical Leave protections to care for a new child or a sick or injured family member
- Workers’ Compensation protections for the family of a worker injured on the job
- Access to COBRA insurance benefits so the family doesn’t lose health insurance when one spouse is laid off
- ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act) protections such as the ability to leave a pension, other than Social Security, to your spouse
- Exemptions from penalties on IRA and pension rollovers
- Exemptions from estate taxes when a spouse dies
- Exemptions from federal income taxes on spouse’s health insurance
- The right to visit a sick or injured loved one, have a say in life and death matters
Couples brought together in civil unions share none of these Federal rights, protections, or responsibilities.
One thing is certain that the country needs to find a middle ground that doesn’t oppress a group of people for their sexual orientation, and doesn’t disrespect the sanctity of marriage that generations of Americans have valued.
(I am not responsible for the views or opinions expressed in the above clip which is broadcasted on basic cable television nationwide*)