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Why You Should Give A Damn About Gay Marriage – review of the marriage (in)equality arguments by Davina Kotulski, Ph.D.

Why You Should Give A Damn About Gay Marriage

Kotulski highlights that there are 1,049 federal rights awarded to straight people when they marry that are denied to gay and lesbian couples. Even if an individual State were to decide to support civil unions, and award gay and lesbian couples the 300 some odd rights many States award to straight married couples, there are still extra hoops gay and lesbian couples would have to jump through to get them, AND the couple would loose all these rights as soon as they left the State.

Marriage Inequality

Some of the rights she discusses may not surprise you, but as she goes through more and more of them, they become shocking:

  • A gay couple pays extra to allow both to drive the car they rent on vacation, whereas a straight married couple pays for one driver and the spouse is included free
  • Straight married people get cheaper rates on car insurance than gay and lesbian committed couples
  • Gay and lesbian couples can still be discriminated against in housing and business in most of the US
  • Even when gay and lesbian couples do receive “spousal benefits” equal to those of straight people they have to pay extra taxes on them (they are “imputed income”)

Perhaps these seem minor to some readers, but Kotulski discusses bigger issues too:

  • “Loss of Consortium” allows married heterosexuals to collect damages against someone who injures their married partner. Gay and lesbian couples do not have this right
  • Whereas a straight parent can marry and easily arrange for their new spouse to adopt their child, a gay or lesbian parent can not. This is called a “second parent adoption,” and denying it to gays and lesbians means denying their children access to health and life insurance, and even Social Security benefits
  • Social Security may not see like much, but Kotulski does some math. She shows that a straight man born in 1960 who dies in 2003 after making $50,000 a year could expect benefits of $1,430 a month would be paid to his wife at retirement, but not to his gay partner
  • Kotulski cites the National Gay and Lesbian Task force as calculating this to mean a loss of $124 million dollars a year in denied benefits to the elder gay and lesbian community. Similarly, pensions and spousal death benefits, even after September 11th, have been denied to gays and lesbians as well. Kotulski notes that this is an even bigger problem for the elder gay and lesbian community as they are more at risk to have been cut off by family and religious resources in their elderly years, and may even live in retirement communities that deny them the right to live with their partners
  • Whereas a home owned by a married couple would automatically revert to the surviving partner if one spouse dies, for a gay or lesbian couple the family of the deceased partner could sue to own half or all the home
  • Gays and lesbians in the military and their partners have even fewer rights, since the “Don’t Ask: Don’t Tell” policy could cause them to lose all benefits and their military position if their gay or lesbian partner tries to claim them

Kotulski has a short part on the Bible as well, noting those religious folk that cite the Bible as the basis for the definition of marriage don’t read it very closely. The Bible:

  • allows men to have more than one wife
  • expects a widow to be married again to her dead husband’s brother
  • does not allow for divorce at all
  • indicates (to the Catholic Church at least) that the purpose of marriage is to create children

Kotulski cites a Virginia judge from 1967 using “God’s will” to support bans on interracial marriages. Clearly, what used to be “obviously” the “will of God” has changed, although even a year after the Supreme Court ruled that laws banning interracial marriages were unconstitutional, a 1968 Gallup poll showed that only 20% of Americans approved of interracial marriages.

The Hidden Agenda of Those Against Marriage Equality

There are organizations who claim to be concerned about America and “family values”… what about them? Kotulski quotes the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (page 118) after their review of some “family values” web sites:

“The American Family Association had 334 documents containing the word ‘homosexual,’ only 47 with the word ‘divorce,’ 29 with the word ‘poverty,’ 17 with the words ‘domestic violence,’ 5 with the words ‘child support,’ and 4 with ‘health insurance.’

Concerned Women for America had 602 documents on its Web site that contain the word ‘homosexual,’ but only 80 with ‘poverty,’ only 70 with the word ‘divorce,’ 19 with the words ‘domestic violence’ and only 6 containing ‘child support.'”

I thought this was interesting, but couldn’t find the date for this study in her book. So, I re-ran this same test on September 13th, 2008. I used the Google “search site” feature to search for the following terms on these same two sites, and got these results — you can click the page number results to run the same Google query I ran to get updated numbers:

Term American Family Association
http://www.afa.net/
Concerned Women for America
http://www.cwfa.org/main.asp
homosexual 928 pages 3900 pages
gay 84 pages 643 pages

divorce 97 pages 507 pages
step-family or
stepfamily
0 pages 2 pages
poverty 88 pages 484 pages
domestic violence 18 pages 144 pages
spouse abuse 2 pages 0 pages
child support 89 pages 41 pages
single parent family 7 pages 38 pages

Totals
Homosexual+Gay 928 3900
Family Issues 385 (or 2.4 to 1) 1859 (or 2.1 to 1)

Now who has an agenda?