To the Editor,
I’d like to respond to Floyd and Mary Beth Brown’s opinion piece “Gay marriage actually limits freedom” that ran on Nov. 2. They conclude “Gay marriage is about using the power of government to coerce religious believers into accepting what many consider sinful behavior as legitimate.” Nonsense. Same-sex (“gay”) marriage is about making sure that the power of government is applied equally to everyone. The GAO lists more than 1,100 rights that apply to married couples that are denied to same-sex couples who can’t marry, and that number is just rights at the federal level. Include rights denied at the state and local level and there are far more. Examples include:
1. If a couple is not married and one partner dies, the other partner is not entitled to bereavement leave from work, to file wrongful death claims, to draw the Social Security of the deceased partner, or to automatically inherit a shared home, assets, or personal items in the absence of a will.
2. Unmarried couples are often not covered by laws and policies that permit people to take medical leave to care for a sick spouse or for the kids.
3. Unlike spouses, unmarried partners are usually not considered next of kin for the purposes of hospital visitation and emergency medical decisions. In addition, they can’t cover their families on their health plans without paying taxes on the coverage, nor are they eligible for Medicare and Medicaid coverage.
4. Unmarried surviving partners do not automatically inherit property should their loved one die without a will, nor do they get legal protection for inheritance rights such as elective share or bypassing the hassles and expenses of probate court.
In short, the U.S. Constitution guarantees equal protection under the law. THAT is what same-sex marriage is about.