Editor's note: On March 26 and 27, the Supreme Court will hear two cases that may redefine how the country recognizes same-sex unions. In one, United States v. Windsor, the court could determine whether the federal Defense of Marriage Act violates the constitutional rights of same-sex couples to marry. The other, Hollingsworth v. Perry, tackles Proposition 8, which denies same-sex marriage in California and which voters narrowly approved in 2008.
Yahoo News asked Americans who will be directly impacted by these cases to share their stories and perspectives. Here's one.
FIRST PERSON | As more states recognize and allow same-sex marriage, the U.S. government still seems to be on the fence.
As of January of this year, at least nine states, the District of Columbia and two Native American groups have legalized same-sex marriage. Rhode Island recognizes unions from other states.
Meanwhile, here in Florida, I and many others await the day when it is a recognized right in all 50 states. I live in Deland, Fla., with my partner of seven years. Together we are raising my son from my former life.
Although Florida does not yet recognize same-sex marriages, civil unions, and domestic partnerships, in some parts of the state, we are gaining some equal rights. In May 2012, Volusia County, which is northeast of Orlando on the Atlantic coast, passed an ordinance establishing a domestic partnerships registry. I can't yet obtain a marriage license in my county, but at least with that I can have a say in matters like hospital visitation, funeral arrangements or end-of-life care. This is a step in the right direction.
There are many reasons to deny someone the right to marry; sexual orientation shouldn't be one of them.
Until I met my girlfriend, I had never thought about marriage. It was just something that "everybody can do," or that is what I thought. We have discussed the option of driving to New York or Iowa. Still, Florida wouldn't recognize us as a married couple. (The Defense of Marriage Act, signed by President Bill Clinton in 1996, prevents the government from recognizing same-sex marriages. It allows states to refuse recognition of same-sex marriages performed in other states.)
I want to be able to have the same rights and protections my parents have. When my father passes away, my mother is eligible to collect his benefits, make arrangements for his burial and decide his hospital care. If I died tomorrow, my fiancé couldn't make funeral arrangements for me or claim my son as her son, which would mean a nasty court battle between my family and his birth father.
DOMA is slap in the face of all people. Before it, Uncle Sam didn't define marriage; any type of marriage that was recognized by a state was recognized by the United States. There was a time, too, when interracial marriage was not recognized, either; in fact, in some places it was illegal. I sure am glad that one was repealed, aren't you?
But Florida is making progress. On Jan. 19, 2010, Miami approved benefits for domestic partners. Domestic partnership is also allowed in Broward County. On Jan. 12, 2012, Orlando began allowing domestic partnerships. On April 13, 2012, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn approved a domestic partner registry within Tampa city limits, allowing same-sex couples to make key decisions for their partners. On May 17, 2012, the Volusia County Council passed an ordinance establishing a domestic partnership registry. On May 21, 2012, Orange County Commissioners approved a domestic partnership registry.
Let us hope the Supreme Court will realize that DOMA is unconstitutional and repeal it as soon as possible. In the meantime, as more state governments allow same-sex marriage, and all the benefits that go with it, we in the LGBT community are enjoying the little victories.
- Family & Relationships
- Politics & Government
- Defense of Marriage Act