Federal benefits in the basis of marital status include social security as well as tax, employee and health benefits. America’s Defense of Marriage Act defined ‘marriage’ as a union between one man and one woman and therefore, same-sex or gay couples are not included in this act and subsequently, not included in the benefits that heterosexual couples enjoy. Recently, however, there has been an amendment to this Act which now will include same-sex couples in the provision.
My claim on this issue is that gay marriage is essentially just the same as the regular marriage and therefore, the rights of heterosexual couples should extend to same-sex couples as well because they are all citizens of America and should therefore be treated equally as such.
II. Reasons and Evidences
The denial of federal benefits for same-sex marriage is unconstitutional and discriminatory. In a country where the main advocacy is equality for all, it is really against everything that the country stands for if in the issue of marital status benefits (which encompass over 1,100 federal regulations, rights and laws) there are biases towards certain groups. In this case, that certain bias would be towards heterosexual couples. In a way, this could be seen as what African-Americans went through before in their struggle for equality. History is just repeating itself. It’s essentially the same discrimination with just a different target this time.
The denial of federal benefits for same-sex marriage is also a sign of state abandonment. By excluding same-sex couples from what should be their rights as American citizens, the government is clearly stating that they do not care for these people in the way they should.
Under the Defense of Marriage Act, when one in a heterosexual union dies, the surviving spouse will be able to receive Social Security compensations. There is also an additional support payment for him or her if his or her deceased spouse had left behind a child. However, this does not hold true for homosexual couples. When one in a gay marriage dies, his spouse gets nothing even if they had both paid the equal amount of Social Security contributions as that of the heterosexual couples. Also, a person from a heterosexual marriage is not in any eligible for surviving parent benefits according to this act meaning they do not get any kind of support even if they are the one who will raise the child left behind by the deceased parent. Furthermore, in the event that the child is not the deceased person’s biological or adopted child (meaning the surviving parent is the foster parent), the child do not get the surviving child benefits.
Under the same Act, there is also inequality in the issue of tax benefits, especially on tax penalties, particularly on tax penalty on the gain from selling a house, and estate tax. Basically, same-sex couples get higher tax penalties than heterosexual couples when they sell a primary residence and if one of a person in a same-sex marriage dies, the surviving spouse do not get estate tax exemptions on the estate properties transferred to the surviving spouse. This is unlike in same-sex marriage where a surviving spouse is exempted from paying the amounts transferred from the decedent’s taxable estate.
III. Defense against Possible Rebuttals
Of course, I am already expecting that not all will agree with my claim as well as the reasons I have provided for me to come up with this claim. That being said, I have prepared defenses against possible rebuttals on my stand.
There seems to be an issue with overstepping authority when it comes to the eligibility of same-sex couples towards benefits connected with marital status. This argument roots from the fact that there will be one overseeing power when it comes to the benefits. This means that regardless of the state the American couples are in or regardless of previous laws or acts, due to an amendment of the Defense of Marriage Act gay marriage will be considered legal basis to receive benefits previously just granted to heterosexual couples.
This is a sound argument. However, if we consider the fact that gay marriages have long been marginalized by the country, I think it is only fair that they get their share. After all, we are talking about people who are also citizens of America so we should not see this as overstepping boundaries but instead, effective reaching out to Americans who were long left behind.
Some people are concerned that gay marriages will actually acquire more taxes to pay with this inclusion of same-sex marriage to the federal laws and benefits governing marital status.
Again, to answer this, we will go back to the concept of equality. Equality means not only sharing the benefits but the burden as well. Because same-sex couples will now enjoy the same federal benefits as heterosexual couples, it is only fair that they also carry the responsibilities that go with it, even if it means that they have to pay bigger taxes. Besides, level-headed same-sex couples actually don’t care that they would be paying a bigger tax than their usual taxes because they understand that they are now part of the ‘regular group’. They are instead thankful for it, according to several reports.
In the end, it all boils down to equality. As I have stated in my introduction, all American married couples are essentially the same – they are all citizens of America and they all have their rights. With this identity, it shouldn’t matter whether they are heterosexual couples or gay couples. They all should have their fair share of benefits from the government and from the state.