It’s been a hot topic in political campaigns for decades. It’s a polarizing subject, leaving most people either all for it or vehemently against it. It’s an issue of civil rights. It’s an issue of human rights. But it shouldn’t be an issue at all.
And here we are, in 2017, still talking about same-sex marriage.
In 2015, the court of law in the United States historically ruled that all 50 states should protect the rights of same-sex marriage. So, no matter if you love, hate, or are indifferent to gay marriage, it’s here to stay.
Rather than starting yet another debate between those on either ends of the spectrum, let’s just speak on the reality of the situation: gay men and women were denied a right to love, struggle, persevere, and love again, in marital bliss for a very long time.
Now that they are granted the same rights as any other heterosexual couple, let’s take a look at some of the benefits they will now enjoy as married men and married women.
1. Rights granted to married individuals
There are 1,138 benefits provided to married people, courtesy of the government. Read that again- 1,138! Things like hospital visitation, family health care, and joint tax filing used to be available only if you were married to someone that had different reproductive organs than yours. Not so much anymore!
Could you even imagine not being able to see your significant other at the hospital after they got in a serious car accident or had a major surgery? You know the drill, it’s family only at the end of the day! That means that for the longest time, gay men and women were left in the waiting room while the person they loved the most recovered just down the hall. Rights like these are often overlooked in the discussion of same-sex marriages, but with the ruling in 2015 allowing gay couples to marry, now those individuals can enjoy these benefits as well.
2. Gay people are no longer second class citizens
Pre-2015, this was a very real thought pattern or conversation that could have occurred:
“Hi there, you’re looking to get married?
“Yes we are!”
“Do you pay your taxes? Are you a U.S. citizen? Do believe all of that stuff about “all men are created equal?”
“Yes, yes, and yes of course!”
“Are you a heterosexual couple?”
“Well, no. We’re gay.”
“Sorry, I can’t help you. You seem like nice people, but you can’t get married.”
It permeates through American literature and it’s culture that all men are created equal. The end of the pledge of allegiance is “…one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” I guess our founding fathers, and the many leaders that have followed, talked the talk, but didn’t do too much walking. African-Americans, women, and gay men and women have suffered from this hypocrisy for generations. But with the civil rights movement, the women’s rights movement, and now the monumental ruling in 2015 that enabled any gay couple to get married in the United States, the barriers between levels of citizenship have broken down more and more.
3. Legitimacy in the world of parenting
Same-sex couples have been successfully raising children for years, but it seemed like a taboo for many objective parties. This isn’t exclusive to same-sex couples, but many people (older, traditional people) tend to judge those that raise children out of wedlock. Getting married and having babies has always been tied together, so when a couple raises kids outside the parameters of the norm, it usually takes some getting used to. With gay couples now allowed to marry, they can raise their children while being married just like traditional folks would want.
More important than the opinion of complete strangers, a gay couple raising a child while being married can also help the child as well. Before the ruling that allowed for same-sex marriage in all states, kids may have looked at their parents and felt different because their parents weren’t married when all their friends’ parents were. I can imagine that it would make for an awkward and confusing conversation to have for both parent and child when they would try to explain that they weren’t allowed to get married. These days, there is no need for that conversation as same-sex couples can raise their children while being happily married.
4. It’s all REAL
After getting married, comedian John Mulaney joked about the weight of changing his significant other’s title from girlfriend, to fianceé, to wife. He mentioned how different it felt to call her wife instead of just his girlfriend. There was a certain power behind it; it felt like it carried more meaning to him.
Although Mulaney’s comments quip about his own transition into marriage, that transition is one that same-sex couples were shut out from for years. Up until gay marriage was legalized, the titles that they were stuck with were a boyfriend, girlfriend, or partner. They never had the opportunity to call someone their husband or wife.
There is something special and strange about the transition into those titles. I’ve never felt like more of an adult than when I started calling my lady “my wife”. It was as if I had crossed over a threshold. It may seem like a small issue, but giving same-sex couple the opportunity to pursue that threshold may be the biggest benefit they have received from the justice department’s ruling.
No one likes to be called “a partner”. It makes you sound like you’re part of a law firm. Husband and wife are sacred titles, which is probably why lawmakers held onto them so dearly for years. They didn’t want to let gay couples experience how special it feels to have a husband or wife. Now any couple can have that experience. Becoming husband and wife, husband and husband, or wife and wife are all beautiful things. There is a weight to those words. Now all same-sex couples will have the benefit of uttering them on their wedding day.