Why is marriage such a hot topic?
Because marriage matters.
Why does marriage matter to gay and lesbian couples?
Marriage matters to gay people in similar ways that it matters to everyone. Gay and lesbian couples want to get married to make a lifetime commitment to the person they love and to protect their families.
Marriage says “We are family” in a way that no other word does. Marriage is one of the few times where people make a public promise of love and responsibility for each other and ask our friends and family to hold us accountable.
Gay and lesbian couples share similar values with straight couples— like the importance of family and helping out our neighbors; worries — like making ends meet or the possibility of losing a job; and hopes and dreams — like finding that special someone to grow old with, and standing in front of friends and family to make a lifetime commitment.
And marriage strengthens families. It gives couples the tools and the security to build a life together and to protect their families.
Couples get married because they want to be there for each other in sickness and in health, when times are good and when things get tough. State and federal marriage laws provide a safety net of legal and economic protections for married couples and their children — including the ability to visit your spouse in the hospital and to transfer property, which can mean being able to remain in the family home when your spouse has passed away.
There have been attempts to create marriage-like relationship systems, but they don’t provide the same security and protections. In many states, same-sex couples that have domestic partnerships have been barred from a dying partner’s bedside, and denied the ability to say goodbye to the person they love. That just doesn’t happen when you’re married.
And allowing gay and lesbian couples to get married does not change the meaning of marriage.
All couples who marry in the United States must get a license for a civil marriage, usually at a courthouse or city hall. These civil marriages would also be available to same-sex couples.
Civil marriage for gay couples does not affect religious marriages, religious institutions or clergy in any way. No religion would be forced to marry same-sex couples, or recognize same-sex marriages within the context of their religious beliefs.
What defines a marriage is love and commitment, and the ability to protect your family.
That, is why marriage matters.