Comfortable with same-sex marriage


This question is looking for your views on gay rights. However you answer the above question would be similar to your response to these statements:

How do you decide between "Support" and "Strongly Support" when you agree with both the descriptions above? (Or between "Oppose" and "Strongly Oppose"). The strong positions are generally based on matters of PRINCIPLES where the regular support and oppose positions are based on PRACTICAL matters. If you answer "No Opinion," this question is not counted in the VoteMatch answers for any candidate. If you give a general answer of Support vs. Oppose, VoteMatch can more accurately match a candidate with your stand. Don't worry so much about getting the strength of your answer exactly refined, or to think too hard about the exact wording of the question -- like candidates!


Family and Relationships

  • Adoption: 19 states allow gay and lesbian couples to adopt children in a complex and expensive two-step process, in which one parent first adopts and then the second can petition for joint rights.

  • Ceremonial Marriages: Same Sex Marriages may be officiated by church officials, or anyone else, but ceremonial marriages in and of themselves involve no civil laws and carry no legal benefits or responsibilities.

  • Domestic Partnership Registration: is a means by which some cities allow opposite- and same-sex couples to go on public record as a non-married couple. The major benefit is used to establish legal responsibility for debts after a relationship ends.

  • Domestic Partnership Affidavit: Many private employers and municipalities offer domestic partner benefits to their workers, based on signing a legal affidavit that defines an economic relationship.

    Civil Unions

  • In Dec. 1999, the Hawaii Supreme Court reversed a 1996 ruling, and defined marriage as between different sex couples.

  • In April 2000, the Vermont House of Representatives gave final approval to same-sex marriages. Gays and lesbians may join in "civil unions," which are no expected to be recognized by other states and will not entitle the partners to federal benefits. The Vermont Supreme Court had ruled in December that gay and lesbian couples denied the right to marry were suffering from unconstitutional discrimination.

  • In June 2000, the Supreme Court let stand a New Jersey ruling that allowed the Boy Scouts to ban gay scoutmasters.

  • In July 2000, Vermont began offering a separate form of marriage, conferring about 300 spousal rights to same sex couples.

  • The Civil Union license is obtained from town clerks. There is a $20 fee. The Unions are "certified" either by justices of the peace, judge, or willing member of the clergy. Civil Union couples also have the right to dissolve their unions through a "dissolution" process in Family Court.

    Civil Unions Benefits

  • Definitions: Use of State laws that confer benefits or rights to people based on their marital or family status, such as family landowner rights to hunt and fish, or definitions of family farmers.

  • Adoption: Entitled to all the protections and benefits available when adopting. Same-sex couples already are allowed to adopt, but laws would reflect that those couples would now be treated as spouses.

  • Compensation: Use of victims' compensation and workers' compensation related to spouses.

  • Discrimination: Use of laws prohibiting discrimination based on marital status.

  • Health Care: Able to make medical decisions for incapacitated partner. Able to visit hospitals visitation and be notified of a partner's condition.

  • Insurance: State employees are treated as spouses for insurance or continuing care contracts.

  • Lawsuits: Able to sue for wrongful death, the emotional distress caused by a partner's death or injury, and loss of consortium caused by death or injury.

  • Property: Entitled to joint title, transfer from one to the other on death, and property transfer tax benefits.

  • Probate: Use probate law and procedures.

  • State Tax: Treated as an economic unit.

  • Testimony: Not be compelled to testify against one another.

    Federal rights NOT Covered by Civil Unions

  • Immigration Rights: Cannot have a non-U.S. spouse become a full citizen.

  • Social Security: Cannot collect benefits upon death of a spouse.

  • Federal Taxes: Cannot file jointly as a married couple

    Same-sex Marriage

  • Goodridge v. Department of Public Health: The Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled in Nov. 2003 that cities must issue same-sex marriage licenses. The first such license was issues in Cambridge Massachusetts on May 17, 2004.

  • 1913 Law: A Massachusetts law from 1913, targeting miscegeny or mixed-race marriage, required that residents of other states be legally marriageable in their home state, in order to qualify in Massachusetts. This law has prevented same-sex couples from elsewhere marrying in Massachusetts. In Feb. 2007, Rhode Island became the first state to accept same-sex marriage licenses from Massachusetts (despite that same-sex couples cannot marry in Rhode Island itself).

  • California's Supreme Court enabled same-sex marriage in a ruling on May 15, 2008, overturning a statewide ban, citing a 1948 reversal of a ban on interracial marriages (but later overturned the law).

  • Connecticut's Supreme Court enabled same-sex marriage in a ruling on Oct. 10, 2008, replacing CT's civil union law.

  • State DOMA: Largely as a result of the Massachusetts law, 29 states banned same-sex marriage. The laws are known as 'Defense of Marriage Amendments'. Several 2004 & 2008 ballot initiatives brought out enough voters to not only pass state DOMA laws, but to influence the Congressional and/or presidential election. The issue retains high interest in the 2012 presidential race.

  • Federal DOMA: refers to the Defense of Marriage Act, passed by Congress in 1996, which defined marriage as consisting of one man and one woman (in other words, barring same-sex marriage). DOMA applies to all federal benefits and taxes, but not necessarily to state benefits and taxes.

  • In May 2012, a federal appeals court in Boston ruled that DOMA unconstitutionally denies benefits to lawfully married same-sex couples. The ruling supports the Obama administration's 2011 announcement that it considered the law unconstitutional and no longer would defend it.

  • On March 27, 2013, the Supreme Court heard US v. Windsor on overturning DOMA, and on June 26, 2013, overturned key components of DOMA as unconstitutional. DOMA was declared to violate the “equal protection” clause, and establishes that same-sex married couples are entitled to equal federal benefits as all married couples.

  • Domestic Partnership: 11 states have some sort of civil union or domestic partnership law for same-sex couples.

  • As of the 2012 election, 11 states --CA, CO, HI, ME, MD, NV, OR, RI, WI, IL, and WA -- have domestic partnership laws.

  • As of the 2012 election, 1 state -- NJ -- has a civil union law.

  • As of the 2012 election, 3 states -- MA, CA, and CT -- have same-sex marriage laws.

  • As of the 2012 election,13 states allowed same-sex civil unions or had some similar legislation, and 29 states had laws defining marriage as one-man-one-woman. By the 2014 election, the number of states allowing same-sex marriage had risen to 34 states. Several more states have legalized same-sex marriage but it has not yet taken effect (but will by the 2016 election). With a majority of states having legalized same-sex marriage, at issue now is federal law, which includes numerous aspects of federal benefits.

    Societal Issues

  • Boy Scouts: In June 2000, the Supreme Court ruled that the Boy Scouts of America can bar homosexuals from serving as troop leaders.

  • Don't Ask, Don't Tell: The Clinton administration in 1993 enacted a "don't ask, don't tell" policy. Under the existing rules, gays can be discharged from the military for homosexual contact and for stating their sexual orientation, but the military is not allowed to ask them their orientation. (see Homeland Security)


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