Why Marriage?

Why is marriage such a hot topic? Because marriage matters.

As more Americans consider what it means to allow same-sex couples to join in civil marriage, you may have questions about what it means and how it works.

We hope that you’ll spend some time here getting the facts and listening to the voices of real couples from all backgrounds talking about why marriage matters to them.

DOWNLOAD: Print and share this flier with your family, friends, coworkers and neighbors

Why does marriage matter to gay and lesbian couples?

Marriage matters to gay people in similar ways that it matters to everyone. Gay and lesbian couples want to get married to make a lifetime commitment to the person they love and to protect their families.

Watch: Four couples talk about the true meaning of marriage — love, commitment and family.

WATCH: Four couples talk about the true meaning of marriage — love, commitment and family.

In America, freedom means freedom for everyone.

  • Marriage is a fundamental freedom that should not be denied to anyone.
  • Gay couples in America pay taxes, vote, serve in the military and run small businesses. They work hard and pay into the same system as everyone else, and they should have the same freedom to marry that other couples have.
  • Legal marriage for gay couples doesn’t infringe on religious freedom. No clergy, church or religious organization will ever be forced to perform a wedding that violates their religious beliefs.

WATCH: Republican State Senator Cheryl Pflug talks about the meaning of freedom.

It’s a basic as the Golden Rule.

  • As Americans, we believe in practicing the Golden Rule, treating others as we would want to be treated. All loving and committed couples deserve to be treated with respect.
  • Many Christians believe that we are all God's children. It is only for God to judge, not us.
  • No one wants to be told that it’s illegal to marry the person they love, and when they think about it, many say they wouldn’t want to deny that freedom for anyone else.

WATCH: Darrick and Kate tell how they've learned that letting gay people get married fits in with the values that they want to teach their own children.

Marriage says “commitment” in a way that no other word does.

  • Gay and lesbian couples share the same values as other couples — like the importance of family and helping out our neighbors, and standing in front of friends and family to make a lifetime commitment.
  • Marriage strengthens families and gives couples the tools and security they need. Civil unions and domestic partnerships just don’t provide the same security and protections.
  • All couples want to be there for each other through thick and thin, grow old together and be able to retire with dignity. That’s why the access marriage provides to family medical leave, Social Security, and veterans' benefits is so important for every American.

WATCH: Maribeth and Jean, an Asian-American lesbian couple, tell their story of marriage and coming home to their family.

No one should be discriminated against because of who they are and who they love.

  • Fifty years ago, businesses were allowed to refuse to serve people based on their skin color, and as a nation we decided that was wrong.
  • We are taught to treat everyone with respect, and that includes gays and lesbians.

WATCH: Antoinette and Keith, a long-married couple, explain why gay couples shouldn’t be excluded from marriage just because of who they love.