We often hear about the marriage benefits that are denied to homosexual couples because of their inability to legally marry. This is a compelling argument — nobody should be barred, for instance, from the bedside of their ill or injured loved ones in hospital simply for lack of a marriage certificate that they cannot legally obtain.
However, laws that ban same-sex marriage (in Nevada we have a Constitutional Amendment!) don’t just prevent recognition of same-sex relationships; they prevent recognition of non-traditional straight relationships as well. My partner and I are not married, and though we may decide to be down the road, the only good reasons for making that decision should be emotional and symbolic — I don’t want to get married for financial reasons. But both of us are state employees, me at the College and the University and her in public health, and use the public employees health insurance plan, which will not cover unmarried partners or their children. I cannot get on her plan, she and her children cannot get on my plan.
The school would like to do something about that. What’s the problem, then? They have to feel their way very carefully around the anti-same-sex marriage amendment to make sure that the state doesn’t “accidentally” treat same-sex domestic partners as if they were married! Sure, we could legally marry, but who wants to be forced into that — and over insurance? Is that in the state’s best interest? Is it in anyone’s?
Frankly, I’d like to see marriages between all consenting adults legalized, and domestic partnerships between consenting adult couples recognized. If marriage is supposed to be “sacred”, why should insurance, power of attorney, hospital visitation, tax law, and all the rest hang on it? We live in a changing world; to insist that only one kind of relationship can meet hte needs of all individuals and of society a a whole is foolhardy at best.