Just the Facts: Q and A
California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, plus the District of Columbia, have the freedom to marry for gay couples.
Marriage gives couples the tools and the security to build a life together and to protect their families. Without the freedom to marry, gay and lesbian couples do not receive the same recognition or protections for their families as other couples.
Couples get married because they want to be there for each other in sickness and in health, when times are good and when things get tough. State and federal marriage laws provide a safety net of over 1,200 legal and economic protections for married couples and their children - including the ability to visit your spouse in the hospital and to transfer property, which can mean being able to remain in the family home when your spouse has passed away.
Same-sex couples are often denied:
- hospital visitation when there's been an accident or illness
- the ability to obtain "family" health coverage
- taxation and inheritance rights
- their role as parent of their children
- even protection in case the relationship ends.
View the lists of protections denied and what happens to families as a result.
Excluding same-sex couples from marriage harms children by denying them and their parents the support that would come to their families through the freedom to marry. Studies have proven that children of lesbian or gay parents are as well-adjusted as those of non-gay parents.
All major child welfare experts, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Association of Social Workers, the American Psychiatric Association, and the American Psychological Association, support the freedom to marry for same-sex couples because all children deserve the right to insurance coverage, social security, emergency care and inheritance rights no matter who their parents are. All families benefit from the reassurance that comes from knowing that your family is safe and secure.
Read what pediatricians and other experts say about the effects on children.
Public opinion research clearly demonstrates that a growing majority supports the freedom to marry. Likewise, support continues to rise in every state, demographic and community.
CNN/ORC International released a national poll in June 2012 demonstrating record support for the freedom to marry in the United States. Fifty-four percent of Americans say that marriages between "gay and lesbian couples" should be recognized as legally valid. [CNN/ORC International, June 2012]
AP released the second national poll since an August 2010 CNN poll to show that a majority of Americans support the freedom to marry. Fifty-two percent of Americans say the government should recognize marriages between same-sex couples. [AP Poll, September 2010]
CNN released the first national poll to show that a majority of Americans support the freedom to marry. The poll asked, "Do you think gays and lesbians should have a constitutional right to get married and have their marriage recognized by law as valid?" 52% of respondents replied "Yes." 46% replied "No." 2% had "No Opinion." [CNN Poll, August 2010]
In its survey of marriage polls since 1988, FiveThirtyEight has found an accelerating shift in support for the freedom to marry. Their analysis shows a 4-point gain in support of marriage for same-sex couples in the past 16 months. In the past, support for marriage grew at a rate of 1 to 1.5 points per year. [FiveThirtyEight, August 2010]
Polling consistently shows majority support for the freedom to marry among young people. A recent Washington Post/ABC News poll found that 65 percent of those under 30 support marriage for same-sex couples. [Washington Post/ABC News, February 2010]
Young white evangelicals are 2.5 times as likely as older evangelicals to say that gay couples should be allowed to marry (25% to 9%). [Faith in Public Life, October 2008]
Sixty percent of Americans who say religion is “fairly important” in their lives favor the freedom to marry. [Gallup Research, May 2010]
Through its analysis of polling data, including CNN’s latest poll, The New York Times determined majority support for marriage in 22 states. [New York Times, August 2010]
Many religious communities, including the United Church of Christ, Reform Judaism, Unitarian Universalist Association, and Metropolitan Community Churches already recognize the loving commitment of same-sex couples, while many religious leaders continue to play a crucial role in advancing the freedom to marry. Many people of faith refer to the Golden Rule in their understanding and movement toward ending the exclusion of gay and lesbian couples from marriage.
Gay and straight people want to marry for similar reasons. For many these reasons include parenting, for many others not. Millions of married couples do not have children (Bob and Elizabeth Dole, for example, or George and Martha Washington). And many gay men and lesbians do have children, but have been denied the ability to raise those children within a marital relationship. What defines a marriage is love and commitment, and the ability to protect your family. The choice to have children belongs to the couple, not the state.
No. In fact, ending the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage will save taxpayers money while boosting the economy. Federal recognition of the freedom to marry would result in nearly $1 billion of yearly savings for the federal government. Weddings for same-sex couples will result in an estimated $9.5 billion windfall for the American economy.
Freedom to Marry’s President Evan Wolfson has written a book called Why Marriage Matters, specifically to help readers better understand why gay and lesbian couples want to join the institution of marriage. In the book, Evan offers concise, well-reasoned responses to ten fundamental questions about gay people and the freedom to marry. You can find Evan's book on Amazon here.