By Amanda Vender
It may be hard to believe that up until 1967, in many U.S. states it was a crime for a white person to marry a non-white person. Now there is a movement gaining strength to allow an adult to marry any adult he or she wants, including a man who wants to marry another man or a woman who wants to marry another woman.
Many same-sex couples want the right to marry because they are in love and have been together for many years. They want the right to have their relationship officially recognized as a marriage and to have all of the legal benefits that go with marriage.
In May the Maine state legislature voted to make same-sex marriage legal. Now there are a total of five states where same-sex couples can be legally married: Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa and Maine. In April, New York Governor David Paterson introduced a bill to make same-sex marriage legal in New York, saying, “We stand to tell the world that we want equality for everyone. We stand to tell the world that we want marriage equality in New York State.”
Activists working for same-sex marriage would like to see same-sex marriage recognized by the federal government, not just by the state. That way, same-sex couples would have the same rights as married couples when they travel to other states and countries and would gain rights that only the federal government can grant. Currently same-sex marriage is recognized countrywide in Canada, South Africa, the Netherlands, Belgium and Spain.
Some Rights of Married People
Health Care: If one member of a married couple has health care through an employer, his or her spouse can have the same health care. They can also visit each other in the hospital and make medical decisions if the partner is not able.
Immigration: A person can apply for his or her spouse to become a legal immigrant. Same-sex couples are usually forced to leave the country or separate if one person is not a U.S. citizen or legal resident.
Taxes: Married couples pay less in taxes than non-married couples.