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What are the legal benefits of marriage?

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Question: What are the legal benefits of marriage?
With the denial of gay marriage, gay and lesbian couples are kept from more than just a ceremony and marriage certificate. There are many real legal and economic benefits of marriage that gays and lesbians are denied because they are not allowed to marry. What are the legal rights and benefits of marriage?
Answer: According to Lambda Legal Defense, more than 1,400 legal rights are conferred upon heterosexual married couples in the United States. By not being allowed to marry, gays and lesbians are denied these rights. Even in the state of Massachusetts, the only US state with legalized gay marriage, most of the benefits of marriage do not apply, because the Defense of Marriage Act states that the federal government only recognizes marriage as "a legal union of one man and one woman as husband and wife".

Here are some of the legal rights that married couples have and gays and lesbians are denied:

  1. Joint parental rights of children
  2. Joint adoption
  3. Status as "next-of-kin" for hospital visits and medical decisions
  4. Right to make a decision about the disposal of loved ones remains
  5. Immigration and residency for partners from other countries
  6. Crime victims recovery benefits
  7. Domestic violence protection orders
  8. Judicial protections and immunity
  9. Automatic inheritance in the absence of a will
  10. Public safety officers death benefits
  11. Spousal veterans benefits
  12. Social Security
  13. Medicare
  14. Joint filing of tax returns
  15. Wrongful death benefits for surviving partner and children
  16. Bereavement or sick leave to care for partner or children
  17. Child support
  18. Joint Insurance Plans
  19. Tax credits including: Child tax credit, Hope and lifetime learning credits
  20. Deferred Compensation for pension and IRAs
  21. Estate and gift tax benefits
  22. Welfare and public assistance
  23. Joint housing for elderly
  24. Credit protection
  25. Medical care for survivors and dependents of certain veterans

These are just a few of the 1400 state and federal benefits that gays and lesbians are denied by not being able to marry. Most of these benefits cannot be privately arranged or contracted for within the legal system.

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