Be informed before tonight’s debate.
Tonight, August 9th, the Democratic presidential candidates will debate (I know! Another one.) in Los Angeles. The debate is sponsored by Human Rights Campaign Foundation and the MTV Networks’ Logo Channel and it is likely that the candidates will get questions that are relevant to GLBT. All the candidates support civil unions but only Kucinich and Gravel support same-sex marriage.
FactCheck.org has an analysis of the differences between civil unions and marriage. The three main differences are:
• No federal benefits. The Defense of Marriage Act prevents same-sex couples from receiving federal benefits.
• Portability. Civil unions aren’t recognized in every state
• “Marriage” carries societal and social benefits
States vary on what kind of unions they allow between same-sex couples. Connecticut, New Hampshire, New Jersey and Vermont have civil unions and state benefits are available to same-sex couples in those states. California, Hawaii, Maine, Oregon, Washington and the District of Columbia have domestic partnerships which are similar to civil unions. Only Massachusetts allows marriage between same-sex couples and they are issued a marriage license but they do not receive federal benefits.
Federal benefits married, heterosexual couples enjoy that are not available to same-sex couples:
• Federal income tax
• Health insurance
• Social security survivor benefits
• Veteran’s and military benefits
Other issues that come to my mind are the ability to make medical decisions on behalf of your partner and even visiting them in the hospital and childcare issues.
In my mind, this is a civil rights issue and I support full right for gay and straight citizens of the United States. The main reason it’s not the currently the case is due to pressure from big business so they won’t have to include gay couples in their benefits.