We asked our 1997 Web visitors to cite real-life examples of why they need legal marriage. Their responses spell out the variety and depth of problems same-sex couples experience when denied the right to a legal marriage — a civil, not religious, status every opposite-sex couple can take for granted.
We place these responses in the following categories, to which you can skip by clicking on the item:
- My partner and I lost full custody of her eight-year old son this summer based on the fact that we were not married, so therefore immoral. We now have a restriction that forces me to leave our home at 7pm and not return until 7am for two weeks of every month when he is home with us. I have only 10 hours a week plus weekend days to spend with my family. We must do whatever we can to insure that this type of ruling does not hurt other families as it has mine.
- My partner and I have two daughters, but in the eyes of the law, she is a single, unattached woman, while I am a single mother. She has Power of Attorney In Loco Parentis (In Place of the Parent), which legally gives her the power to make the same legal, medical and educational decisions I can make, but in reality that ability is frequently challenged and she must display the document before she is even believed. She could be the children’s step-mother if we could be legally married.
— South Carolina
- I am currently going through a child support battle because my partner of 11 years decided to leave me after I was artificially inseminated (a joint decision, yet all of a sudden she no longer wants the responsibility). She refused to pay any support (she makes $78,000) after she encouraged me to quit my job! Now I’m out of luck because Arizona doesn’t recognize our relationship as a legal commitment!
- After five years, four months and five days, Jill and I went before a judge to finalize the adoption of our daughter. We had jointly raised her in foster care since the day she came to us at the age of 11 months. Had we been legally married our daughter would have taken both our names. Instead, we had to explain to a six-year-old that the court would only allow her to belong to one of her two mommies and that even though Jill had been her “stay at home mom” for as long as she could remember, I would have to be the one to legally adopt her since I was the one that worked and had health insurance for her medical needs. What a rotten way to select the parentage of a child. This also left Jill feeling fearful for her future role in our daughter’s life.
- We are currently working on an adoption. However, the adoption agency has told us we’d have a much better chance of adopting if only one of us applied. Seems the state would be more comfortable with a single parent than a same-sex couple with a 13-year history of stability. Our state is currently trying to pass a bill prohibiting “known homosexuals” from adopting or foster parenting.
- My partner and I have a six-year-old daughter. We are currently in the process of having the non-biological parent adopt her so that she has a legal relationship to both of her parents. She has a chronic illness, and her biological parent has no medical insurance but her non-biological parent does. She is presently denied access to that insurance. Also, her non-biological grandparents set up a trust that is to be divided between their children and grandchildren. Unless we are able to adopt, our daughter will not benefit from the trust.
- I was with my partner, Danny, for five years when he was hospitalized for a seizure. I had to beg for information from one of his doctors which he was sharing freely with Danny’s parents, even though I had papers (medical agent/power of attorney) that said that I was the person responsible for his care. Danny died three months later and I barely had a say in his funeral arrangements and burial. My name was not included in the obituary and it was only through the intercession of Danny’s two brothers that I was even allowed a place at the funeral home. Our relationship was not recognized by his parents, never mind the legal community. I had to pay taxes ($3,000+) on monies I received from his retirement plan because I was not a blood relation or legally married to him. I’m not looking to imitate a heterosexual marriage, I want to be recognized for what I am — someone’s partner — and receive the same benefits as legally married individuals.
- My ex-lover decided to wake me up at 3:30 a.m. to yell and scream at me, push me around, hit me and scratch my arms. After I had dialed 911, he ripped the phone out of the wall. He laughed and said, “no one would be able to hear your screams,” and, if I tried to scream, he would kill Karma, my dog.
When the police arrived, they said it was obvious that my ex was intoxicated, but they were not going to arrest him unless they had to come back. They said that since this was a “lover’s quarrel” between men, there was nothing they could do unless someone was “severely injured.”
Had the police been able to accept the fact that this was the same “domestic argument” as any opposite-sex couple, instead of just two gay men squabbling, I am sure he would have been arrested. Instead, I had to go back to our bedroom and pray he wouldn’t come in or hit me again.
As soon as society begins to accept same-sex marriages, police will have to take violence between same-sex couples more seriously. Until then, we’re all on our own.
— No state given
- For a brief time, I was involved in a relationship in which I was a victim of abuse. In Arizona, domestic violence laws are enforced only in cases where a marital or quasi-marital relationship exists, but not if it exists between two members of the same sex. Had I been legally married at the time, I would have received the protections I needed to steer clear of at least some of the abuse.
In addition, my partner would have been forced into a counseling environment where it might have been possible to save the relationship. If saving the relationship were not possible, I still would have had the support needed to get out much earlier and without it costing the life of one of my cats.
Obviously, being in a relationship with this man was not a good idea, but the situation I was in (i.e., not being legally married) only made me feel abandoned by those who could have helped me the most.
— No state given
- In our past, both myself and my partner filed for bankruptcy. To try to reestablish our credit we purchased a car. Since we are not legally married and I do not work, I will not reap any of the credit repairing benefits that this purchase is supposed to provide!
My partner works and I stay home. One of my responsibilities in our marriage is to handle budgeting, paying bills and dealing with the creditors. I cannot count how many times I have been told that they cannot answer any questions about her account because I have no legal right to that information. The other day I even had one collector hang up on me -- and I was going to give her my credit card number to pay it off! It is very frustrating and annoying.
Luckily we sound almost exactly alike (our mothers cannot tell our voices apart), so when push comes to shove I can say I am her. But, I feel bad each time I have to do that. I like to be honest and up front.
- My lover was hurt on the job. I was called since I was listed as her emergency contact. However, I was not allowed access to my lover because I had no “legal right.”
- When my partner became ill and was in an intensive care unit, I was prevented from seeing her.
- Marriage would have made it a lot easier to lease an apartment or space for a business. We had a difficult time when living in New Orleans. One company, which owns most of the real estate, would not let us rent because I did not meet the required income level, even though my lover is the bread winner and could easily support the rent. They said that if we were a married couple, it would be understandable that he was supporting me.
- An apartment complex only wanted married couples in the building. If my partner and I were married we could have made it our home.
- We have been together for over three years, yet because our relationship is not recognized legally, we are forced to spend many thousands of dollars on immigration lawyers just to stay together. One of us is American the other is from the UK. If we were allowed to marry, this would not be a problem and our life together would be simpler, cheaper and happier.
- My spouse and I are an interracial couple. She is from Honduras and unfortunately due to all the new immigration laws she will be waiting still a while for her work permit. (Her mother sponsored her a few years ago.) She is unable to legally work in this country, even though we have been together for three years and a Holy Union was performed.
- My partner is legally in this country, but with pending changes in immigration status, he is attempting to find someone of the opposite sex to marry him, so that he can gain citizen status. If we had the same rights as heterosexual couples, I could simply marry him (as I’m more than willing to do, since I love him, and want to stay together), and there would be no need to “pretend” his contrived marriage to someone simply for citizen status.
- We are an international couple (I’m American, my partner is Japanese) and because her visa expired, she had to leave the U.S. so we are now living together in Japan. We both want to live in the U.S. but because we do not have the marriage right (that would give my partner a Green Card), we do not have a way yet to come back. If we had the right to marry, we would have the freedom of choice as to where we wanted to live but without it, we have no security as to how and where we can be together.
— No state given
- I am a non-U.S. citizen, studying in America on a student F1 visa. I am in a loving, committed relationship with an American, who I deeply care about. Sadly, I am afraid that following the termination of my visa status in the U.S., we would have to live distant, separate lives, because of INS’s discriminatory practices.
- We need to be legally married so we can be together. One of us is an Australian citizen, the other American. It would be easier for us to live in America together if we were able to marry like heterosexual couples.
— North Carolina
- My partner and I are a bi-national couple. His visa is expired, and we are having an awful time trying to find a way for him to stay here. If we were allowed to marry, under federal law, we would be protected and allowed to legally remain together in the U.S. We are afraid that under the new immigration laws we may lose each other. And for only ONE reason: because we are gay.
— No state given
- My friend, a Jamaican, will have difficulties to get his residence and work permit here in Germany after he finishes his education program. If I could marry him, that would not be a problem. Now our partnership has an uncertain future. We could not live in Jamaica, because homosexuality is illegal there and may be punished by 10 years of imprisonment.
— No state given
- I need a legal marriage license just to live my everyday life! Being in a same-sex relationship with a person from another country other than the U.S. would be a million times easier, less stressful and cheaper for everyone involved. Having a legal marriage license for my partner and I would be the most marvelous gift that anyone could give to us. Just to have a regular, everyday life would be a GOD send!!!
- We could use a legal marriage license right now. I am Canadian and my partner is American. We could use it to allow us to immigrate to either country. I visit her every weekend (weather permitting), and must be away from my daughter during those times she does not join me. We are looking at other ways to be together, but none are promising. A legal marriage license would solve all of our problems.
- A legal marriage would give my partner legal immigration status to this country; instead, we will have to endure uncertainty and anxiety in an otherwise happy and loving marriage. His student visa will expire next year and H1 non-immigrant work permits are not easy to come by -- even though he is a professional. It simply would not happen to a heterosexual couple in this country!
- We could be living together now if we would have been able to marry. We met about two-and-a half years ago in Holland where Tom (my American counterpart) was spending some time. Ever since, we kept in contact, which resulted in huge expenses for flight tickets, mail and phone bills. We both suffer a lot from not being able to be together due to immigration laws in the States.
- My intimate partner is a New Zealand citizen and if we were able to legally marry she would be granted legal status here. As it is, we may have to leave our home here or go through elaborate and expensive proceedings so she can be allowed to work and live here legally.
Insurance & Employee Benefits
- Even though we’d been a couple for 13 years, I couldn’t take advantage of the automatic spousal coverage our company offers for life insurance. Neither can I have Rob covered by my health plan, which offers better coverage at a lower rate than his plan. This does not amount to equal pay for equal work. Also, when I left that job after seven years, I could not seek coverage under Rob’s insurance.
- I share finances with my partner, who is employed and has benefits for herself. I have hurt my back, and I am unable to work full-time and therefore unable to receive benefits without paying more out of my own pocket. If it were possible for my partner to extend her benefits to me, then I could continue to receive benefits that would help heal me in order to get back to work.
- My spouse and I were married two years ago. I just want the same rights that all other married couples have. I have considered going to school full time but, my fear is the loss of health benefits. She is unable to list me as a dependent! We are entitled to that right.
- When Paula left her full-time job to work freelance and needed health insurance, she couldn’t get onto my health care plan at the university where I work because we are not legally married. This resulted in a cost to us of thousands of extra dollars a year.
— New York
- My partner and I have lived in a committed relationship going on ten years now. I am very fortunate to work for a company that offers excellent group health insurance along with other nice benefits. My partner does not have health insurance or any benefits for that matter. She has epilepsy, a life-long condition requiring regular medical care and expensive medications. With equal rights, we would not be faced with this problem, I would simply have added my legally married spouse to my health plan.
- We have been very fortunate. People always seem to accept us. The only real issue for us is that I am not eligible for my other half’s company insurance benefits or railroad retirement. Hopefully, things will change by the time that becomes an issue.
- When I was attending the University of Washington I could have used the benefit program offered to spouses from my partner’s employers. Because my current employer offers better health benefits than my partner’s employer, we could save money by taking advantage of the same rules that apply to legally married couples.
- There are many memberships which do not recognize us as a “family” and so do not offer us the family discount. Also, it hurts to receive the questioning looks and quiet roll of the eyes when they hear us assert our partnership.
- I work for the Department of Veterans Affairs (a federal agency) and was accepted for a promotion involving a transfer from Los Angeles to San Francisco and was promised relocation expenses. This included the purchase of our old home, transfer of all household goods and temporary quarters in San Francisco until a new residence could be purchased. Our home was valued by three independent appraisers offered by the relocation company at over $500,000.
After a reasonable attempt to sell the house on the open market, the relocation company was to purchase the house at the government’s expense. My lover and I were joint owners of the property, but of course not married. Shortly before I was to report for duty in San Francisco, I was advised by the relocation company to change title of the property into my name exclusively. I considered this to be an obviously blatant and unethical move that could jeopardize my career and employment status.
We chose to say nothing because it appeared the process was going to move forward without any questions or concerns. A week after moving, I was informed that the government would only cover half of the relocation expense. I attempted to keep the house on the open market longer and requested an extension for temporary quarters allowance and was denied the request.
Since I was already in San Francisco and my lover had found employment in the Bay Area, we had no options. I was forced to accept the new position and we had to come up with more than $50,000 out-of-pocket to cover expenses for the move. A $500,000 home in Los Angeles is not unusual and had we been legally married the Fed would not have reneged on our agreement.
When my office raised this issue with me, I told them that my lover is part of my household as well as immediate family. While the San Francisco office is very gay-tolerant, they were unable to stand up to potential repercussions. Frankly, neither could I. This was in 1992 and this is the first time I’ve said anything.
Regardless of current rhetoric about “non-discrimination based on sexual orientation,” the discrimination is blatant and painfully costly. My attitude toward the fed and my career will never be the same. I could never have afforded to single-handedly file a grievance and take it as far as it would need to go. I would have simply ended my own career and livelihood.
Who is willing to take on the Fed? How can I help?
- My name is Brian and I am 24 years old. I have just tacked up year number three of being in love with my boyfriend, Tim. Yes, we prefer the term “boyfriend” because that is what we are at this moment to one another. One day (hopefully soon), one of us will ask the other to “marry” him. It is sad that as a gay male, I have to put the word marry in quotation marks simply because I live in a world which chooses to discriminate against me and my relationship.
- It is very clear that Maribelita and I love each other very, very much. We have been together for over 30 years and the sex is still great. But we would love to get married and don’t understand why a couple like us would be denied of that privilege.
- We live our life together. We have a mortgage, a child and a pet. We are married in every essence of the word. She is my life, my universe. If we could have a legal marriage then my mother would attend. What girl doesn’t want their mother at her wedding?
- Throughout all of our lives together, almost 10 years, a legal marriage license would have helped to underscore the commitment and love that Dan and I share. While there is no specific example of a problem or incident that comes to mind. We have never felt the respect of others for our relationship in as complete a way as if we were able to have “made it legal!”
- Legal marriage would have helped us in the area of medical benefits and car insurance, but more important than that is the way that society uses legal marriage as a tool against us. It is the “last bastion” for straight people to keep us from. Not allowing people to marry isn’t about money. It’s about control.
— New York
Governments that offer Full Legal Marriage
South Africa (2005)
New Zealand (2013)
New Zealand (2013)
(England, Wales, Scotland) (2013)
United States (2015)
US States & Territories
New Hampshire (2009)
District of Columbia (2009)
New York (2011)
Rhode Island (2013)
New Jersey (2013)
New Mexico (2013)
Michigan (2014) - stayed pending legal challenge
Arkansas (2014) - stayed pending legal challenge
West Virginia (2014)
Kansas (2014) - stayed pending legal challenge
North Carolina (2014)
South Carolina (2014)
U.S. Supreme Court (June 26, 2015):
Ruling: All U.S. States must now
allow same-sex couples the
freedom of legal marriage.
Native American Tribes|
Coquille Tribe, Oregon (2009)
Mashantucket Pequot, Connecticut (2011)
Suquamish Tribe, Washington (2011)
Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, Washington (2013)
Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, Minnesota (2013)
Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, Michigan (2013)
Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, Michigan (2013)
Santa Ysabel Tribe, California (2013)
Confederated Tribes of the Colville Nation, Washington (2013)
Cheyenne, Oklahoma (2013)
Arapaho, Oklahoma (2013)
Leech Lake Tribal Court, Minnesota (2013)
Puyallup Tribe, Washington (2914)
Wind River Indian Reservation, Wyoming (2014)
Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, Michigan, (2014)
Colville Confederated Tribes, Washington (2014)
Central Council of Tlingit, Alaska (2015)
Haida Indian Tribes, Alaska (2015)