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Marriage or Civil Union

Rings in hands 1104.The debate over whether gay and lesbian couple should be able to legally marry is still a controversial debate, despite the fact that a majority of states now have legalized gay and lesbian marriages.  To understand why there are such strong emotions on both sides of the fence one has to realize the definition of marriage.

To those who are opposed to gay and lesbian marriages the definition of marriage comes from the biblical definition; a union between a man and a woman.  Marriages between men and women occur because of love, children, families and social status.  Many years ago, marriages between opposite sexes were arranged between families to increase assets or social standing.  There are some countries where these arranged marriages are still being practiced.  Couples who marry enjoy many benefits that those unable to marry can’t.

The gay and lesbian community believes marriage should exist for anyone who loves someone regardless of sexual orientation.  These couples want the same benefits as a traditional couple has.  As time progresses, old stereotypes and phobias are falling away and states are legalizing marriages for gay and lesbian couples.  States are realizing times are changing and the laws need to reflect those changes.

Along with enjoying all the benefits of a marriage, a same sex couple also has to deal with all the legal complications as well.  If a marriage isn’t working, a same sex couple has to file for separation or divorce with the court system with decisions on alimony, child support and property division included.  With all the benefits of marriage, there are many negatives.  Dolly Parton said it best, “Yes, I support gay marriage.  They have every right to be as miserable as the rest of us”.

Just how many states have now legalized gay marriage?  There are currently 37 states that have legalized gay marriage, which means there are 13 states that don’t recognize it.  Florida legalized gay marriage in January 2015.  Most of the 37 states who have legalized same sex marriage did so in 2014 and 2014.  The first state to legalize same sex marriage was Massachusetts in 2004.

Do states that ban same sex marriage have to recognize a same sex marriage from another state where it is legal?  That is still being determined in courts across the country.  President Obama has stated that he believes these unions should be recognized if they were legally performed in one state.  But he also realized he is not a lawyer and doesn’t know all the legalities surrounding the issue.  This debate will most likely continue far into the future.

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