We need legislation to address inequalities

Dear Editor:

What is often lost in the hyped-up media and political rhetoric surrounding the same sex marriage issue is that there is a very real and tangible human impact caused by the denial of marriage rights to same-sex couples and their families. There are over 1,000 federal benefits and several hundred state benefits that are conferred on a couple who are able to legally marry. These include preferential treatment in taxation, inheritance law, pension survivorship, adoption, insurance eligibility, hospital visitation, etc. Even something as mundane as getting a cheaper joint gym club membership is often denied. Many of these benefits cannot be re-created through any other legal means except a marriage or its equivalent that is legally recognized by the government.

For those whose personal religious beliefs prohibit applying the label of “marriage” to committed same-sex relationships, consider supporting “civil unions” that at least create a legal equivalent to marriage in the eye of the State? In a country founded on the principles of personal liberty and religious freedom, there is no reason why a same-sex couple should not be able to go to the county court house and enter into a legally binding civil union that confers the same legal and tax benefits that married couples now receive. This would not prohibit individual religious institutions from making their own decisions about which types of relationships they recognize.

If you agree with this view, I encourage you to reach out to your political representatives and other community leaders to let them know. Rather than focusing on a constitutional amendment that serves only to deny rights, we need our leaders to urgently work on creating legislative solutions that actually address the inequalities which currently exist and are harming members of our community.

Aaron Black,