Mark McKinney and Steve Lepre

Mark McKinney and Steve Lepre have been together over 14 years. They own their home, pay their taxes, and have been awarded "Yard of the Month" several times in their neighborhood. They are active participants in moving their community forward and helping their neighbors.

In 2002 Mark left his job as a weatherman for a local ABC affiliate. At that time, Steve asked his employer if Mark could be added to his company's health insurance policy. Says Steve, "My employer said 'of course' but the insurance company said no citing South Carolina's DOMA law. Eventually we made the choice to start our own company in part because in South Carolina two people can be a group plan. Our health insurance is now higher than our mortgage though."

Many committed same-sex couples share the same responsibilities as married couples. However, without the freedom to marry, they do not receive the same recognition or protections for their families as married couples. In fact, same-sex couples and their kids face tremendous discrimination. For example, lesbians and gay men who have been their partner's primary caretaker are often denied hospital visitation when there's been an accident or illness, or the ability to obtain family health coverage, taxation or inheritance rights, or even the protections afforded by divorce.

Regardless of the fact that they have taken responsibility for their partner's well-being, both economically and emotionally, legally their status is, at best, that of a roommate. Denied the freedom to marry, same-sex couples and their kids are deprived of literally thousands of legal and economic protections and responsibilities, as well as the emotional, social, and spiritual meaning that marriage has for many.