Here We Go Again…

For my own sanity, I chose to receive the news that the Pope is advocating for civil unions for same sex couples as a positive sign. That is not to say I don’t recognize how civil unions are different from marriage. Many states tried to play that game and we all lost until the landmark Obergefell v. Hodges decision that clarified all the complications for states with differing laws. I am not naïve enough to fail to understand the double standard of separate but equal in reality means we aren’t equal AT ALL. Haven’t we played that game before? But even with this hopeful news, I am extremely nervous about the future of same sex marriage and honestly my own marriage.

I know I am preaching to the choir when I list the key reasons why marriage means something and I’m just going to remind everyone of those legal and emotional reasons. When we were registered domestic partners none of the following legal/emotional benefits applied to us, so it was absolute crap when anyone insisted that civil unions or domestic partnerships were equal to marriage. When we married, here’s what we gained:

Marital Tax Deduction

I am now able to transfer an unlimited amount of assets to my wife any time, free from tax, including assets in my estate that are not subject to estate or gift tax.

Filing Taxes Jointly

For some people this isn’t a benefit, but for us, it was. We received more back in taxes when we began to file together as a married couple.

Social Security Benefits

Goddess forbid something happened to either one of us, there is a potential benefit for the other to collect Social Security. I’m certainly hoping this won’t actually apply to us, but if any of you have kids, this can be a huge benefit. For some there is also the possibility of receiving Medicare, disability, veterans, military and pension plan benefits through your spouse.

IRA Benefits

Both of us have IRAs and again if something happened to either one of us, no fuss, no muss to be able to roll over the IRA. In addition, we were able to contribute to each other’s account when one of us was working and the other was not.

Legal Decision-Making Benefits

I can now declare my wife as my next-of-kin for hospital visits, which grants her the ability to make medical decisions. Either of us have the legal right to sue for wrongful death of a spouse and have decision-making power with respect to whether our spouse will be cremated or not and where to bury her. Family can sometimes stick their nose where it doesn’t belong, and this makes me feel better about ensuring my wishes are followed.

Inheritance Benefits

Before we married, we established a will to guarantee the other was protected, but now my wife will inherit my entire estate without tax consequences. So, even if someone tries to challenge the will, they won’t get very far.

Health Insurance Benefits

Ever since we registered as domestic partners, I’ve been able to cover my wife. The difference with marriage is that I didn’t have to pay taxes on premiums or the value of the insurance. We’ve definitely benefited from this arrangement.

Leave Benefits

While some benevolent employers offered Family Medical Leave or sick leave to domestic partners in the exact same manner as married couples, others did not. In addition, some states had better laws around this issue. But with federally recognized marriage FMLA is strictly defined to include spouses. For most employers this means they don’t have a choice to offer FMLA.

The Emotional Benefits of Marriage

Marriage assigns value to the relationship. Studies show that married couples live longer. To be able to introduce my partner as my wife is priceless. If I have to go back to trying to choose one of the other alternatives that never quite worked for me, I’m going to scream my head off. Remember those: domestic partner (so clinical), lover (focuses on one part of the relationship), partner (sounds like someone I’ve gone into business with). Y’all get my point…

We will survive if this basic human right is ripped from us, but we won’t be happy. Sure, we will go back to that lawyer to ensure everything is ticked and tocked to protect us, but how will we regain that emotional benefit. A legal document will not compare to our marriage license and the ceremony we had 5 years ago.

Once again, I cannot resist getting political. It’s too important. If you aren’t bothered by my need to speak up and want to learn a little more about my books…feel free to check out the links below! I would be so pleased!

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