Many people don’t understand what the big deal is with relationship and marriage recognition. Isn’t marriage just a piece of paper anyway? Not so. In America, married couples enjoy many rights and benefits that same-sex couples do not have access to, under the current law. Here are some of the benefits that same-sex couples miss out on: (taskforce.org)
• Right to inheritance of a spouse’s property
• Joint adoption
• Property tax and income tax deductions
• Disability payments
• Next-of-kin status for emergency medical situations
• Shared property, child support, and alimony (after divorce)
• Social security payment and veteran’s pensions, for widowed spouses
And that is only a partial list. You can see that, besides less than equal recognition in the eyes of society, limited relationship recognition by the state also robs gay transgender people of many legal benefits.
Unbelievably, many states don’t have laws banning sexual discrimination in everyday life. Just as African-Americans were once discriminated against based on race, many transgender people find it hard to go about their daily lives, due to lack of legal protection. This discrimination doesn’t only manifest in small ways, like worse service at a local restaurant or a tougher time getting hired. Surveys have showed that it massively impacts the quality of life for gender variant people. (taskforce.org)
• More than a quarter of transgender people report losing a job because of their gender identity
• Harassment and mistreatment on the job because of being transgender is a near-universal occurrence—97% of transgender people report experiencing it
• Transgender people are twice as likely to be living below the poverty line
• Nearly 1/5 have lost their housing due to being transgender
• 19% report being denied medical care because of their gender identity
• Harassment in medical settings has occurred to 28% of transgender people
• A Transgender person is MURDERED or killed in the U.S. every three (3) days.
As you can see, sexual discrimination shows up in all sorts of institutions, from healthcare to employment. For many transgender people, simply going about normal daily life can become stressful and needlessly difficult, because of the discrimination they face.
And, in most states, gender variant people have no recourse through the law for dealing with this discrimination. Only thirteen states have banned discrimination based on gender orientation. Most of this legislation has happened in the past ten years, which is hopeful. But, there is still a very long way to go.
We have made huge progress here in Iowa. The Trans couples I have worked with and for, want the same thing as all couples…The Happily-Ever-After. My most recent Transgendered couples nuptials were unique and extremely heartfelt; here's a peek into the ceremony:
The officiant read the non-gendered, very consent-orientated ceremony out of a copy of Darwin's Origin of Species. She also did the entire speech from The Princess Bride. The vows included a traditional Celtic prayer which honored their Latino-Irish heritage:
You cannot possess me for I belong to myself.
But while we both wish it, I give you that which is mine to give.
You cannot command me, for I am a free person.
But I shall serve you in those ways you require,
And the honeycomb will taste sweeter coming from my hand.
…I pledge to you that yours will be the name I cry aloud in the night,
And the eyes into which I smile in the morning.
I pledge to you the first bite of my meat and the first drink from my cup.
I pledge to you my living and my dying, each equally in your care.
I shall be a shield for your back and you for mine.
I shall not slander you, nor you me.
I shall honor you above all others, and when we quarrel we shall do so in
Private and tell no strangers our grievances.
This is my wedding vow to you
This is the marriage of equals.