Your Opinion: Same sex couples denied civil rights

Dear Editor:

In my letter published on June 1, I referred to relationship civil rights that are being denied to same sex couples because they are not allowed to get married. I feel it is appropriate at this time to list a sample of these relationship civil rights. According to the General Accounting Office, there are 1,138 federal rights and approximately 300 state rights that are conferred with a civil marriage license.

I listed below, eight relationship civil rights that are being denied to same sex couples. Most same sex couples I know are in long-term monogamous relationships of at least 10 years, some much longer. Not having these relationship civil rights leaves them in a vulnerable position, the same position an opposite sex couple would be in if their marriage was suddenly revoked.

Relationship civil rights that are being denied same sex couples include but are not limited to the following; access to health insurance through spouse’s workplace; burial determination after the death of a spouse; automatic next-of-kin status for emergency medical decisions and hospital visitation; sick leave to care for a spouse or non-biological child; bereavement leave after death of a spouse; ability to file wrongful death claims; access to survivor’s benefits in the case of an emergency; automatic inheritance of share assets after spouse’s death (such as a jointly owned home); inheritance of retirement savings tax-free after spouse’s death; Social Security survivor’s benefits; ability to file joint tax returns; access to tax breaks for married couples and assumption of spouse’s pension after death.

The list goes on and on.

I have received a lot of positive feedback from my previous letters. People are having conversations with the LGBT people in their lives and understanding why civil marriage is important. I believe the citizens of Missouri are fair and compassionate. I do not believe Missouri fully understood the effect of passing a constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage in 2004. This amendment was promoted as a way to “protect” the “definition” of marriage.

I do not understand that logic, how denying a segment of the population the right to marry protects anything. This amendment goes way beyond defining a word. This amendment causes real empirical harm to your gay and lesbian friends and loved ones. If this amendment is ever to be repealed, it will take the hard work of all fair-minded compassionate people. It can be done!

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