Same sex marriages continues to be a hotly debated topic in this country. The lines have been drawn for years and while progress is continuously being made, there are those who remain committed to ensuring life is hard for couples wishing to marry. But same sex couples also face legal and financial challenges as they seek to build a life together.
Traditional marriages have countless benefits, each designed with keeping the sanctity of the classic family and maintaining its financial well-being. Those benefits have been in place as long as there have been marriages. For same sex couples, though, it’s not always so black and white and the challenges are many.
The American I Do
Saying “I do” triggers the American government to kick in more than 1,130 state and federal benefits reserved for husbands and wives. These benefits include the rights of spouses to make medical decisions when the patient is not able to, to collect social security or other death benefits and the perks afforded via their annual tax considerations.
Not only that, but with the “happily ever after” mentalities that comes with getting married, couples walking down the aisle today may be walking into a courtroom to have their marriages annulled within a few years. With a divorce, ex-spouses are afforded many financial rights, including fair distribution of the couple’s assets, spousal or child support and considerations associated with retirement, college and mortgages.
Money and Gifts
Traditional married couples are allowed to gift their spouses as many gifts, including cash substantial gifts, with no worries about them being taxed. Same sex couples who may not be legally married in the states they reside aren’t privy to that benefit. In many – if not most – states, home ownership is a bit complicated. It’s not necessarily the paperwork and mortgage considerations, but rather, the lack of creditor protection that leave many vulnerable. When a husband dies, the surviving wife is not obligated to prove ownership of the items in the home or even the home itself; same sex couples aren’t always allowed to do that. are permitted to give an unlimited amount of gifts to each other without being taxed.
In recent years, it has become more mainstream for same sex couples to open joint credit card accounts, bank accounts and in some instances, mortgages – without worries about being questioned about two men or two women representing themselves as couple. In fact, discrimination against same sex couples is rare in the financial sector. Approval for credit cards or mortgages is based more on an applicant’s ability to repay and less about the sexual orientation of those applicants. In fact, federal laws bar creditors from discriminating on account of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status or age. The problems are often introduced on a state level.
What many aren’t aware of is that close to 60% of Fortune 500 companies – in every sector provide health insurance and other benefits to same-sex partners of their employees.
Pursuing an education poses its own problems too. The Center for American Progress says on its website,
Because of the various impediments facing these applicants, the federal financial aid process will often deflate or inflate applicants’ financial need and hence their total financial aid package based on factors completely irrelevant to financial need. And since most other financial aid depends on the application for federal aid, these distortions will trickle down throughout the entire financial aid application process, even outside of the federal government’s support.
So Many Reasons
The reasons for supporting same sex marriages are many. From scientific research that suggests married folks – regardless of their sexual orientation – live longer. It’s believed healthy marriages can play a role in both the physical and emotional health. Married people earn more, too. Those who are unmarried are more prone to be diagnosed with depression and are even at greater risk for filing bankruptcy.
There’s been another shift in the U.S. in recent years, too. For the first time, the majority Americans say they’re OK with same sex marriages and even those who don’t support the religious aspects of these marriages, they do support the right for a couple to combine their legal and financial considerations. This mean even those who don’t support gay marriage aren’t necessarily opposed to shared credit card accounts and bank accounts.
So should you disclose you’re gay on credit applications? Of course not. After all, creditors don’t ask straight couples to memorialize their sexual orientation on credit applications. Creditors aren’t allowed to make their decisions based on those considerations.
Regardless of anyone’s personal opinions, there are many benefits to allowing same sex couples the option of a legal marriage.