Since the Supreme Court threw out a Texas law banning sex between
gay couples in June, issues of gay rights, including the marriage,
have been in the spotlight.
The decision declared a victory for gay and lesbian couples and
convinced some it was a good time to push for legalized marriage.
While advocates say they are only seeking equal rights under
the law, many people, citing deeply held religious beliefs, contend
marriage should only be allowed between a man and woman.
The issue is attracting much attention in Massachusetts, where
the state Supreme Court is weighing whether several same-sex couples
can legally marry.
In one case, a lesbian couple together for 16 years and raising
a daughter, sued the state for refusing them a marriage license.
are not considered spouses. If Julie were to die, it is possible
I would have to sell the house because I would have to pay tax
on the inheritance, which most spouses would not have to do,"
explained one of the women.
Marriage licenses are granted by the states. None provides licenses
to gay and lesbian couples, though Vermont allows "civil
unions" that give gay couples the same state benefits as
a married couple.
At the federal level, the government has said it is opposed to
gay marriages. The 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, signed by President
Clinton, defines marriage as "only a legal union between
one man and one woman."
"No State, territory, or possession of the United States,
or Indian tribe, shall be required to give effect to any public
or judicial proceeding of any other State, territory, possession,
or tribe respecting a relationship between persons of the same-sex
that is treated as a marriage
or a right or claim arising
from such relationship," the law reads.
If Massachusetts does legalize marriage, gay couples hope the
Constitution's "Full Faith and Credit Clause" will cancel
out the 1996 law.
"Full faith and credit shall be given in each state to the
public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other
state," the clause reads, in part, meaning that states are
expected to uphold rights and privileges granted by a different