Without marriage, low income couples left in the cold

Note: This post is a part of the world-wide Blog Action Day on poverty. In this post, I’ll delve into what a lack of marriage equality means to low-income LGBT, same-sex couples. Please visit www.blogactionday.org for more information and more posts on this exciting day to build awareness and education on this important global issue.

First Hawaii. When our most westernly U.S. state began talking about marriage equality for same-sex couples, a shock-wave went through the nation. As a result, we now have the Defense of Marriage Act, federally defining marriage as only between one man and one woman.

Then, San Francisco and Massachussets. When San Fran mayor Gavin Newsom started issuing marriage licenses to gay couples, and when the Massachussets Supreme Court legalized gay marriage, the push to place anti-gay, anti-family constitutional amendments on state ballots went full-throttle.

Now, California and Connecticut take the stage. We’ll hear all the usual rhetoric and all the usual hype.

“Protect marriage for the children,” the religious right will scream.

What we’re less likely to hear is a sincere and honest dialogue on exactly what full marriage equality would mean for low-income same-sex couples and their children. Despite the rantings and ravings of the lunatic fringe of the Christian church, marriage equality for gay couples really would protect families and children.

In the U.S., there are over 1,100 rights, benefits and privileges associated with marriage. In some states and with some other estimates, those rights can total more than 1,300. Rights as basic as hospital visitation, child custody and parental recognition, inheritance and more are bound up in law by a simple word co-opted over what is simply a civil contract between two loving people: Marriage.

The argument often leveled against this line of thinking is that most of the rights of marriage can be achieved through private contracts negotiated between a couple and their attorney. What this argument fails to take into account are the large numbers of low-income couples who can’t afford such an option.

A lesbian couple employed as a public school teacher and the other as another government employee can’t afford to raise children and pay an attorney. A gay male couple employed as a fast food restaraunt worker and server at a fine dining location can’t afford to raise children and pay an attorney.

For low-income, opposite-sex couples, these familial benefits and protections — used to protect not only the couple’s relationship but also their children — can be as easy as a small administrative fee and a courthouse wedding. In come the unmarried, out walk the just married.

For gay and lesbian, low-income parents, this isn’t an option.

Marriage equality will protect families. It will protect children. Most of all, marriage equality will protect the most vulnerable Americans: those living in poverty and low-income conditions. Marriage equality is about more than Civil Rights — it is about fairness, humanity and family.

If you are in California, vote NO on Prop. 8 and save marriage for those who need it most. If you are in Arizona vote against Prop. 102. If you are in Florida, vote against the Marriage Protection Amendment.

If you are anywhere else in America, vote for candidates who can create real and lasting change and equality for all Americans, poor or wealthy.

Leave A Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.