Sunday, April 26, 2009

LGBT for Confused Straight People - Lesson 4

Ok, I know. You're thinking "They're all confused. Or worse, geekgirl." Good point. I'm trying to be kind, remember.

I wish I had copied the source of this quote, something I will do in the future. I tend to read comments by readers left on website with gay rights stories. One person wrote:

"Why do they need to get married in a church anyway? Why can't they be happy with their civil unions?"

Dear Confused:
There are two basic answers to this question.

The first one is, no one needs to get married in a church. All that two people need is someone who is allowed by the state to sign a marriage license. You can get married in a county courthouse. No religious representative is needed. That is because marriage is a legal contract between two people. Do you really think this is about a church wedding? They want their legal rights. Maybe some want a church wedding. Maybe some wish that the religion they were raised in would accept LGBT people. All of those desires are understandable. However, they won't give people legal rights. Only the government can do that.

Which leads to the second answer. Civil unions rarely cover all the rights given to married heterosexual couples. People like to say that marriage isn't in the constitution or the Bill of Rights. Look a little farther and you'll find 1138 rights that are given to married people. You can find stories about how the lack of these rights affect the lives of LGBT people at Would you be happy if you could not stay with your spouse in the emergency room? If you could not legally adopt children as a couple? If you could not add your spouse to your health insurance? Leave your spouse your possessions without incurring inheritance taxes?

And oddly enough, by giving LGBT people all of these rights through marriage, doesn't take away any rights from straight people.

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