Gay Marriage Essay

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Same-sex marriage In North America, marriage is a restricted institution. It only permits one man and one woman to be joined in matrimony. It is likely to remain restricted for at least the foreseeable future. Gay or lesbian couples cannot be married -- except in the Netherlands. As of early 2002, about 25 states have enacted "Defense of Marriage Acts" (DOMAs) that ban same-sex marriage. Another six have similar legislation pending. During 2000-MAR, 61% of California voters supported Proposition 22, which defined marriage as being restricted to between one man and one woman. But Proposition 22 and most of the DOMA laws only control the institution of marriage. Most DOMA laws do not prevent a legislature from creating a new set of laws which cover a different type of relationship, typically called civil unions, for same-sex couples. A state would then recognize committed relationships among its citizens in two ways: It would retain the existing system of marriage for heterosexual couples -- for one man and one woman -- intact. Heterosexual couples who plan to marry in the future would find that nothing is changed; the regulations, privileges, obligations, benefits etc would be the same as always. Nothing would change for existing heterosexual couples who were married in the past. States typically grant about 400 rights and privileges to each married couple. The federal government separately contributes an additional 1,000 benefits to them. A state legislature could then create a similar system, usually called civil unions, for same-sex couples -- i.e. for two men or for two women. These would grant some or all of the state benefits that have been previously granted only to married couples. But the over 1,000 federal rights and privileges would be withheld from "civil unionized" couples because of the federal DOMA law which prohibits the federal government

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