Now that Washington State has passed a marriage equality bill that allows same-sex couples to join in civil marriage, you may have questions about what it means and how it works. Here are answers to some common questions:
Why do same sex-couples want to get married?
For similar reasons as anyone who wants to marry. To stand in front of friends and family to make a lifetime commitment to the person they love. To share the joys and the sorrows that life brings. To be a family, and to be able to protect that family.
Does this change the definition of marriage?
No. Allowing same-sex couples to marry does not change the meaning of marriage. It simply allows same-sex couples to marry the person they love, to establish and protect a family and to make a lifetime commitment in the same way that other couples are able to.
How would same-sex couples marry?
All couples who marry get a civil marriage through a license, usually obtained at a courthouse or City Hall. Washington State has made civil marriage available to same-sex couples. Some couples also choose to marry in a religious setting. This would not change.
Does civil marriage for same-sex couple affect churches or other religious institutions?
No. It does not affect religious marriages, religious institutions or clergy in any way. No religion would be forced to marry same-sex couples, or recognize same-sex marriage within the context of their religious beliefs.
Aren’t there other alternatives to marriage for same-sex couples?
There have been attempts to create marriage-like relationships, but they don’t work. For example, Domestic Partnership laws still don’t qualify a spouse or children for health care coverage that employers only extend through marriage.
Marriage says “We are family” in a way that no other word does.
• Marriage is one of the few times where people make a public promise of love and responsibility for each other and ask our friends and family to hold us accountable.
• Same-sex couples may seem different from straight couples, but we share similar values – like the importance of family and helping out our neighbors; worries – like making ends meet or the possibility of losing a job; and hopes and dreams – like finding that special someone to grow old with, and standing in front of friends and family to make a lifetime commitment.
It’s as basic as the Golden Rule.
• Treating others as one would want to be treated includes allowing marriage for same-sex couples who are truly committed to each other.
• Most straight couples would never want someone telling them they couldn’t marry, and when they think about it, many say they wouldn’t want to deny that for anyone else.
Allowing committed same-sex couples to get married does not change the meaning of marriage.
• All couples who marry in the United States must get a license for a civil marriage, usually at a courthouse or city hall. These civil marriages would also be available to same-sex couples.
• Civil marriage for same-sex couples does not affect religious marriages, religious institutions or clergy in any way. No religion would be forced to marry same-sex couples, or recognize same-sex marriages within the context of their religious beliefs.
• What defines a marriage is love and commitment, and the ability to protect your family.
Marriage strengthens families. It gives couples the tools and the security to build a life together and to protect their families.
• Couples get married because they want to be there for each other in sickness and in health, when times are good and when things get tough. State and federal marriage laws provide a safety net of legal and economic protections for married couples and their children – including the ability to visit your spouse in the hospital and to transfer property, which can mean being able to remain in the family home when your spouse has passed away.
• There have been attempts to create marriage-like relationship systems, but they don’t provide the same security and protections.
**material adapted from WhyMarriageMatters.org.