You know that old saying: Be careful what you wish for you might just get it? Well, I can’t help thinking of that when I hear about the desire to have gay “marriage”. (The big M word) First of all let me say I don’t care one way or the other about gay marriage other than I think it is entirely inappropriate to make a Constitutional ammendment about the issue. If anything it should be left up to the States to decide according to how the people in each State vote. Some States will approve, some won't.
However, I really feel that the proponents haven’t thought this through. Most of the issues of marriage can be solved by using a decent lawyer (ok, an oxymoron) and paying attention to legal details. You want your significant other (S.O.) to inherit? Write a will, establish a trust, own property in joint tenancy, have joint bank accounts, change the beneficiary on your IRA, 401k, life insurance. Worried that your S.O. won’t be able to see you in the hospital or that your family members will interfere? Write a living will, get medical directives, get a court injunction or restraining order. Want your S.O. to be able to take care of your children during/after your life? More legal work. Adoption….don’t know about that one. I did say most issues. Here are some financial benefits you do miss out on if not “married”, and that is Social Security survivorship, assumption of the annuity or IRA upon death. Health insurance routinely allows domestic partners to be covered as dependants. Family leave? California has that privilege in the law. Most large companies have that policy and more are coming on line. Being recognized by society as a couple? Well that would be pretty much self evident by your behavior. and who is so insecure in their relationship that it isn’t real unless other people, who should mean little to you, validate it.
So what about the other things you are missing out on if not married and only cohabitating? These are things that “married” people would gladly do without. Ruined credit when your spouse can’t keep off the credit card merry-go-round. Liability and responsibility for all debts whether or not you actually incurred them. Inability to get a loan for years even after your spouse is nothing but an unpleasant memory (What the hell was I thinking?) because of fiscal irresponsibility. Needing to have your spouse’s signature or permission to leave your IRA to somebody else like your children or parents. Getting sued and losing everything you ever worked for when your spouse commits a crime or has an auto wreck, which by the way also will increase your insurance costs for years to come. Let’s not forget about the really fun stuff when the bloom is off the rose and the whole relationship goes into the crapper. Alimony, spousal support, child support and half of your retirement plan that you hoped would make your twilight years comfortable, taken by your spouse. Getting to pay for the court costs for all that fun is also a bonus.
So be careful what you wish for.