10 Ways DOMA Negatively Affects Families Like Mine

Today is a pretty big day. In fact, so is tomorrow. And no, neither day has anything to do with me getting pregnant. But both days have a whole lot to do with what type of country my future children will grow up in. It will either be a country that does not recognize their two mothers as a legally married and committed couple who deserve the same rights as all married couples. Or my children will grow up in a country that says to their mothers, “Yes, you are full and true citizens of the United States of America and, therefore, deserve every right your fellow Americans enjoy.”

Needless to say, I’m hoping for the latter.

Proposition 8 (commonly known as Prop 8) is before the United States Supreme Court today, and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) has its day tomorrow. It has taken years to get here. And now, the constitutionality of the ballot referendum from California and of DOMA is being challenged in the highest court in our country. The question is a simple one that has absolutely nothing to do with religion and everything to do with the Constitution of this country: Does Prop 8 and DOMA unconstitutionally discriminates against gays and lesbians? The answer is also simple: Yes.

But the matter is far from a simple one.

With Supreme Court Justices like Antonin Scalia sitting on the bench and admitting that he has a “longstanding and profound fear of homosexuals [but that he] puts all feelings of abhorrence, disgust, and revulsion completely out of [his] mind” while in the courtroom, you can see why I and gays and lesbians across the country and world are nervous this week. (Okay, so that source is a satirical one and those weren’t actually his words, but his history on the issue is a dismal one nonetheless.)

Our rights as citizens hang in the balance. And since, according to the Census Bureau, same-sex couples in this country are raising nearly 250,000 children, this issue affects our kids, too.

Since many people may not fully understand exactly how DOMA negatively affects families like mine, I thought now would be a great time to shed some light on the subject. Enjoy the following facts, as well as the photos of my wife and me. Hard to believe we are what Justice Scalia is so afraid of…

“Give to every human being every right that you claim for yourself.” ~Robert Ingersoll

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  • DOMA Deprives Children of Gay Parents of the Legal and Social Protections of Marriage 1 of 10
    DOMA Deprives Children of Gay Parents of the Legal and Social Protections of Marriage
    Approximately 20% of same-sex couples are raising nearly 250,000 children, and DOMA deprives them of the legal and social protections being married offers.
    Source: The New Civil Rights Movement
  • Social Stigma Affects Physical and Mental Health of LGBT People 2 of 10
    Social Stigma Affects Physical and Mental Health of LGBT People
    Research shows that laws such as DOMA produce stigma that has serious adverse impacts on the health of LGBT people by causing stress and disease. A Williams Institute survey of people married to a same-sex spouse in Massachusetts found that couples gain social support from their families and have a greater level of mutual commitment when they are allowed to marry.
    Source: The New Civil Rights Movement
  • Immigration for Bi-National Couples Affected 3 of 10
    Immigration for Bi-National Couples Affected
    Nearly 26,000 same-sex couples in the United States are bi-national couples who could be forced to separate because they cannot participate in green-card and accelerated citizenship mechanisms offered to non-citizen spouses of American citizens.
    Source: The New Civil Rights Movement
  • Increased Estate Tax 4 of 10
    Increased Estate Tax
    Members of same-sex couples who have paid the federal estate tax have paid, on average, more than $4 million more than a survivor of a different-sex spouse because they do not qualify for the federal estate tax spousal exemption.
    Source: The New Civil Rights Movement
  • No Spousal Impoverishment Protections for Medicaid Long Term Care 5 of 10
    No Spousal Impoverishment Protections for Medicaid Long Term Care
    Federal law requires states to allow different-sex spouses to retain income and assets to protect them from destitution. However, about 1,700-3,000 individuals whose same-sex spouses or partners receive Medicaid-financed LTC are not protected by these spousal impoverishment provisions.
    Source: The New Civil Rights Movement
  • No Benefits for Spouses of Federal Employees 6 of 10
    No Benefits for Spouses of Federal Employees
    The same-sex spouses and partners of over 30,000 federal employees are ineligible for important benefits available to different-sex married spouses.
    Source: The New Civil Rights Movement
    Photo: Tamme Stitt Photography
  • No Veteran Partners Benefits 7 of 10
    No Veteran Partners Benefits
    Same-sex spouses and partners of nearly 68,000 veterans are barred from a variety of benefits including pensions, educational assistance, and vocational training available to different-sex spouses. We're talking about United States veterans, folks. Veterans who have made huge sacrifices for freedoms and rights they don't even get.
    Source: The New Civil Rights Movement
  • No Social Security Survivor Benefits 8 of 10
    No Social Security Survivor Benefits
    Unlike different-sex spouses, same-sex spouses cannot continue receiving their spouse's social security payments after their spouse's death. This results in a loss, on average, of over $5,700 for a same-sex spouse that receives lower social security payments than the deceased spouse.
    Source: The New Civil Rights Movement
  • No Family Medical Leave Act Benefits 9 of 10
    No Family Medical Leave Act Benefits
    Nearly 430,000 same-sex partners remain barred from taking leave to care for a same-sex spouse under the FMLA, even if they marry.
    Source: The New Civil Rights Movement
  • Unjust Taxes 10 of 10
    Unjust Taxes
    Approximately 41,000 employees with a same-sex spouse or domestic partner pay, on average, over $1,000 more in taxes per year than an employee receiving the same health benefits for a different-sex spouse. I'm one of those employees.
    Source: The New Civil Rights Movement

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