For the first time in the history of our country a sitting President has publicly announced his personal support for same-sex marriage. The announcement by President Obama, coming off the heels of the disappointing North Carolina vote to ban same-sex marriages through a constitutional amendment, speaks volumes for the marriage equality movement and ignites hope in the LGBT community.
NASW has long held the position that persons of same gender sexual orientation should be afforded all the same rights as persons of other-gender orientation. The Association has worked in a variety of capacities to advance marriage equality including several amicus briefs filed by the Legal Defense Fund. For example, Goodridge v. Department of Public Health in 2002 establishing the right of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts by the highest court in the state, Jackson v. DC Board of Elections and Ethics, in 2010 challenging the proposed referendum to ban same-sex marriage in DC, and Perry v. Brown in 2011 challenging the legality of Proposition 8 in California.
As noted in NASW’s Same-Sex Marriage Fact Sheet, there are more than 1,000 federal protections and responsibilities denied to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender families because they cannot legally marry in this country. Without the legal right to marry, for example, members of the LGBT community:
- do not have rights to family health coverage, child custody and medical and bereavement leave,
- cannot file joint tax returns and enjoy income and estate tax benefits,
- cannot assume pension or Social Security benefits in the event of the death of a same-sex partner,
- do not have the automatic ability to make medical decisions for an incapacitated partner,
- cannot petition for their same-sex partner to immigrate,
- are not entitled to leave of absence from work to care for a seriously ill partner or parent of a partner,
- can be questioned or challenged through legal means regarding parenting responsibilities of children brought into LGBT families through birth, adoption, surrogacy or other means,
- do not have the ability to purchase continued health coverage for a same-sex partner after the loss of a job.
NASW President, Dr. Jeane Anastas, states, “President Obama’s courage in allowing his political stance on same-sex marriage to evolve to endorsement of full marriage equality is to be celebrated. My wife and I are deeply grateful that our commitments to love, care, and mutual responsibility are being recognized as equal to those of any other married couple. President Obama’s determination to ensure fairness is an inspiration to all of us.”
For more information on NASW’s work on LGBT issues, click here.