WASHINGTON - May 17 - Today, Massachusetts takes a bold step toward equality for lesbians and gay men, as it becomes the first state to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
"NOW leaders and members are overjoyed that thousands of committed couples will now be able to form legal families protected under law in Massachusetts," said NOW President Kim Gandy. "Same-sex couples deserve the same marriage rights granted to opposite-sex couples, and NOW applauds the Massachusetts Supreme Court for recognizing that fact."
Last November, and again in February, the Massachusetts court determined that the equal protection clause of the Massachusetts Constitution called for full-fledged marriage rights--and nothing less--for same-sex couples.
"However, progress cannot stop at the Massachusetts borders," said Gandy. "Same-sex couples in all 50 states and the District of Columbia must be allowed to share in the rights and responsibilities available to opposite-sex couples. And full federal and state benefits must be extended to the millions of lesbian and gay couples who wish to marry."
Heterosexual married couples are afforded over 1,000 legal protections and benefits in state and federal law which are inaccessible to committed same-sex couples. Benefits of civil marriage include access to health insurance and medical decision-making for your partner and your children; parenting rights; Social Security; tax deductions and exemptions, inheritance rights and other government benefits; as well as the simple ability to pool resources to buy or transfer property without adverse tax treatment.
The U.S. Congress and George W. Bush are threatening to permanently withhold these rights from same-sex couples by writing discrimination into the U.S. Constitution.
"My family is no different from any other family," said NOW Action Vice President Olga Vives, a longtime activist for lesbian rights. "We are all looking out for the health, safety, happiness and legitimate recognition of our families. Same-sex marriage rights can only make this country stronger by making every family everywhere stronger."
For more information: Same-Sex Marriage is a Feminist Issue