Much has been said in the media about the differences between marriage and civil unions, but what exactly do these differences mean, and are they significant? It is presumed that people get married because they are in love and seek to accept a lifetime commitment to each other. For the same alleged reasons, people access domestic society. However, a marriage brings certain benefits that domestic partners do not enjoy in all states.
The Legal Benefits of Marriage
There are financial and personal benefits that a married couple enjoys as a result of their legal union. These benefits include:
? Tax Benefits : Married couples may request joint tax refunds before the IRS and the State. Frequently, this provides tax benefits to the two individuals who have celebrated a marriage.
? Estate Planning and Other Benefits: Surviving spouses have the right to inherit all assets of their deceased spouse, without incurring any tax lien.
? Health Care Benefits: Married spouses who work for qualified employers have the right to leave work in accordance with the Law on Abandonment of Work for Medical Care of a Family Member, in order to care for their sick spouse. Spouses may also have the right to make certain decisions on behalf of their sick spouse and unlimited visit privileges to the sick spouse while hospitalized.
? Citizenship: Those who are not US citizens, married to United States citizens, may have certain citizenship benefits that unmarried couples do not enjoy.
? Divorce: Although it does not seem like a benefit, married couples enjoy the certainty of a legal system that can dissolve their marriage and distribute their assets. Unmarried couples do not enjoy this certainty.
The Benefits of a Domestic Partnership are Limited
Although some states recognize civil unions or domestic partnerships, many states do not recognize these unions and do not provide domestic partners with the same rights as married couples. Moreover, according to the Federal Law for the Defense of Marriage (DOMA) states that do not recognize domestic societies are not required to recognize domestic societies carried out in other states. This means that if a couple carries out a valid civil union or domestic partnership in one State and travels to another State that does not recognize their relationship, and one of the partners becomes ill, the other partner has no right to visit him in the hospital or Act as a close relative.
Furthermore, since federal law does not recognize civil unions or domestic partnerships, federal tax returns must be filed separately and the partners are not entitled to the same benefits as married couples. Other benefits such as social security and company retirement may also be limited.
Finally, some people argue that marriage provides spouses with the social recognition of their union that domestic partners and civil union couples do not enjoy.
For all these reasons, there has been a movement in many states over the past decade of same-sex couples, so that they can get married instead of simply being allowed to hold civil or domestic unions. Currently, only Massachusetts, Iowa and Connecticut allow same-sex couples to marry with all the benefits of marriage between heterosexual couples. Other states, such as California, are currently litigating the right of same-sex couples to marry. The difference in terms of legal benefits and social status has been driving, in many states, the movement towards same-sex marriages.