Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Interview question on gay marriage cases; bizarre action on VA "crimes against nature" law

I was invited by the Rosern Group to submit interview questions to Larry Bodine of Lawyers.com about the upcoming Supreme Court cases involving gay marriage, which may well be rules on Wednesday morning.
"Can you name some practical ways marriage equality affects single people, people not even in relationships right now?"   

 “There may be a marriage in your future – your own.  According to the Census Bureau 55% of Americans have been married at one point in their lives, and only 30% of Americans have never been married. You may be single now and not in a relationship, but chances are, the notion of a formally-recognized monogamous relationship is on the horizon.

“ Beyond emotional support, economic stability and companionship, marriage conveys many legal rights. Married people get a tax breaks with joint filing and exemption from federal estate taxes. They can include a spouse in workplace health insurance, veteran’s benefits and social security. If a married person dies without a will, state laws usually give the surviving spouse most or all of the deceased person's estate. A hospital must allow you to visit your sick or injured spouse. Marriage to a U.S. citizen makes foreigners eligible for a green card.

“ There are 130,000 legally-married couples are in same-sex marriages nationwide. So far only 12 states recognize same-sex marriage. The right to marry is not in the US Constitution, but the US Supreme Court has in at least 14 cases since 1888 ruled that marriage is a fundamental right.

 “That’s why the world is watching what the Supreme Court will do in two gay rights cases. One involves the Defense of Marriage Act, which cuts off couples in same-sex marriages from tax deductions, employment benefits, veteran’s benefits and immigration rights. It that case a legally-marriage lesbian had to pay $363,000 in federal estate taxes because the IRS denied her the marital deduction.

“The other case involves Prop. 8, a constitutional amendment enacted by voters in California. It bans same-sex marriage and creates a stigma that gays and lesbians are less worthy and not equal under the law. Gays can form a domestic partnership, which is a lesser, unequal version of marriage.

 “The Supreme Court will issue its rulings this week and you can read about them on Lawyers.com at blogs.lawyers.com.”

I take Mr. Bodine’s answer to mean that marriage (you love someone permanently, and he or she loves you back) ought to be in the sights of everyone, and it is not necessarily wrong if “singles” sometimes experience and expectation to defer or sacrifice for families (with children or dependents), as long as every adult can marry one consenting or agreeing adult of choice. 



There is another important story in the Washington Post by Laura Vozella, that Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has filed an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court aimed at preserving Virginia’s sodomy laws, which apply also to heterosexuals (unlike Lawrence v. Texas (2003), more like Bowers v. Hardwick (1986).  Cuccinelli claims that he wants to use the laws only against “sexual predators” or in crimes against minors (age of consent in Virginia is 18).  The link is here.

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