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Thursday, July 18, 2024
HomePolicySame-Sex Marriage by State & Study

Same-Sex Marriage by State & Study

Source: Pew Research Center; USA TODAY/Gallup; National Conference of State Legislatures
Eileen Rivers, Michelle Poblete and Frank Pompa, USA TODAY

The Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage has been long-awaited and is soon expected. Depending on what the court decides, one thing for sure is that we are likely to have a very confusing situation, as you can see from the chart this is not a one-size fits all issue.

Naturally, the court can simply attempt to rule that it is just that, which of course they have certainly been known to do in the past. Potential decisions could make things easier or leave them unchanged, but as far as the SCOTUS pundits are concerned these are among the more unlikely outcomes. The court could uphold California’s gay marriage ban, leaving the status quo intact, or they could declare a new right to marriage for all same-sex couples nationwide.

The court could leave intact the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which denies federal benefits to legally married gays and lesbians in 12 states and the District of Columbia that allow same-sex marriage. The law has created an uneven situation within and among states, but at least such a ruling wouldn’t require changes to the current law.

However, if DOMA’s federal benefits ban is struck down by the Supreme Court, or the case is thrown out on technical grounds based on a no standing clause, both of which the talking heads profess appears more likely, then the potential for a state-by-state quagmire will arise.

— What happens if legally married couples have moved to a state without same-sex marriage? The section of DOMA that protects those states from having to recognize marriages performed in other states would apply to state benefits, but what about federal benefits? That could be up to President Obama — and future court cases.

That’s because some federal agencies base marriage rights on where the license was issued, so the federal benefits would follow the couple; for others, however — including Social Security — it’s the current residence.

— What happens to couples in civil unions, from New Jersey to Hawaii, who currently receive virtually the same state benefits as those who are married?

Federal law does not recognize civil unions, so they wouldn’t automatically qualify for federal benefits.

New opportunities also would arise for gay and lesbian couples if the federal law denying benefits is struck down. Some are straightforward, such as being able to contest the last three years of federal tax returns. Others are more dramatic; for instance, they could move to a gay-marriage state because of the added attraction of federal benefits.

Getting divorced is another matter: If a same-sex married couple moves to a state that has not legalized gay marriage, they may have to move back to the first state to break the marriage apart.

Striking down DOMA also would force employers in the affected states to change their benefit plans.

As for California’s Proposition 8, most speculation has focused on rulings that would permit same-sex marriages to resume in California for the first time since 2008. That could happen if the Supreme Court upholds one of the lower court rulings, denies standing to those defending the law, or dismisses the case outright.

But these options present even more questions as well.

If the ban’s defenders are found to have no legal right to defend it, then the federal district court ruling would stand, which could be interpreted to apply only to the two couples who sued and either to the two counties where they live – Los Angeles and Alameda – or perhaps statewide.

If the case is dismissed, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision would stand, and this could lead to the three other states in the circuit — Oregon, Nevada and Hawaii — who allow civil unions or domestic partnerships to reconsider their situations. Same-sex couples residing in the rest of the circuit may also argue that they deserve marriage rights as well.

Over the weekend a study was released, which found that same-sex marriage did not affect the marriage rates of heterosexual couples. To be sure, the data and methodology was inconsistent and incomplete at best, and at worst, is sadly being touted as a victory against proponents of traditional marriage even though it is based on flimsy numbers.

Nevertheless, you can read the study here and decide for yourself if the information was a complete and accurate assessment, or even a fair comparison for that matter. I would certainly argue that there was simply not enough data.

Unfortunately, it is overshadowing another study released that was medical in nature, and found that same-sex couples are less healthy than heterosexual couples. Unlike the aforementioned study, this study had comprehensive data enough to make an accurate comparison to couples who fell within the same socioeconomic class, age, and so on.

It is true that married couples are more healthy than non-married individuals, which of course is leading critics who favor same-sex marriage to claim that all sexual orientations should be allowed to benefit from the natural benefits to living in a married lifestyle.

For the study, which appears in the , Michigan State University sociologist Hui Liu and her colleagues analyzed the self-reported health of nearly 700,000 participants in the 1997-2009 National Health Interview Surveys. About 3,330 men and women are identified as same-sex cohabiters in the study.

But there is a question no one seems to be answering, even if they are thinking it in secret without the courage to publicly voice their concerns.

Why do same-sex couples not experience the same natural physical benefits that heterosexual couples experience? Liu said:

Legalizing same-sex marriage could provide the benefits associated with marriage – such as partner health-insurance benefits and increased social and psychological support – which may directly and indirectly influence the health of people in same-sex unions.

Of course, there is absolutely no evidence to suggest that health benefits are associated with how and why the natural tendency for heterosexual couples to be healthier cannot be observed in same-sex couples. In fact, the vast majority of data supports the conclusion that health benefits as a preventive medicine benefit is completely irrelevant to the causes and outcomes of the ailments that can be observed in same-sex couples.

In other words, they could have the best health plan that money could buy, but you still would not observe any difference because the majority of ailments simply are not preventable conditions.

But I will leave you to read it and draw your own conclusion. That is, if you can read between assumptions made out of the whole clothe that is Hui Liu’s clear bias, and I am sure you can.

Written by

Rich, the People's Pundit, is the Data Journalism Editor at PPD and Director of the PPD Election Projection Model. He is also the Director of Big Data Poll, and author of "Our Virtuous Republic: The Forgotten Clause in the American Social Contract."

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