Same-sex couples have long asked for the right to enjoy the same benefits as couples of different genders. Currently, same-sex couples are denied 1,138 rights given by federal law to traditional couples. Among these rights is the ability to make decisions for the spouse in case of a medical emergency; for same-sex couples, this authority goes to the next of kin. In relation to medical emergencies, same-sex couples are also denied visitation rights, meaning that if a spouse is hospitalized, the significant other can be denied entrance to the room. Another benefit that is denied to same-sex couples is the right to Social Security benefits upon the death of a spouse. Traditionally, the Social Security benefits go to the surviving spouse, but in same-sex unions, the benefits simply stop. Similar to Social Security benefits are employee benefits, which are provided to the partners of traditional unions, but denied to same-sex couples. In 2009, the federal government presented an act to the floor of Congress that would provide employee benefits to the spouses of same-sex unions employed by the government. Another point of contention is the right to adoption, a right that is denied to same-sex couples. The stability of same-sex relationships has also been called into question by opponents. One benefit that is often overlooked due to the fact that it does not pertain to same-sex couples is the benefit to the economy of same-sex unions through the accumulation of disposable income.
Civil Unions in Arizona for Same Sex Couples
Many people are confused on the differences between a civil union and marriage. The difference is the involvement of religion. Marriage is the traditional school of thought, where a man and a woman go through a ceremony in a church or other religious structure, where the ceremony is conducted by an ordained representative of the religion in question. Involved in the ceremony is the completion and signing of a marriage certificate, an official government document that goes on record with the state that allows for the distribution of any and all legal benefits as spelled out by law and tradition. A civil union, however, is devoid of the religious connotations of marriage, meaning no religious ceremony, no religious representative, and no church. Civil unions are conducted in a court room or other non-religious location by judge, or more commonly, a Justice of the Peace. During the non-religious ceremony of a civil union, a marriage certificate is completed by the couple. Most religious institutions deny a marriage ceremony to same-sex couples, and the majority of laws do not make allowances for same-sex couple to have a civil union. The focus of this paper is on civil unions for same-sex couples and what this entails. Several other states have chosen to go the route of civil unions for same sex couples over marriage. There are numerous reasons that this is necessary. One of the biggest arguments of people against same sex marriage is that it tries to redefine what marriage is. By giving same sex couples the title of civil union, it neutralizes this argument while giving the exact same benefits. Civil unions can also be viewed as a stepping stone towards marriage. By legally recognizing the relationship, it opens the door for acceptance in the general population (Sadler, 2008).
Another argument is that same sex couples cannot provide the same kind of stable relationship that can come from traditional marriages. One state that has been able to provide ample information about the results of civil unions is Vermont. In 2000, civil unions were legally recognized under Vermont state law (Elder, Rothblum, & Solomon, 2010). This gave way to the ability to conduct studies on the effect of same sex couples being able to union. By following several gay and lesbian couples that undertook these unions, we can see that over several years few differences...