Marriage Discrimination Harms Children & Families

Study after study has shown that children of lesbian or gay parents are as well-adjusted as those of non-gay parents. 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 intangible reassurance that comes from knowing that your family is safe and secure.

  • Children have automatic and undisputed access to the resources, benefits and entitlements of both of their parents.
  • Married couples do not have to incur any expenses, legal or otherwise, to ensure that both parents have the right to make important medical decisions for their children in case of emergency.
  • Children of legally married couples are automatically eligible for health benefits from both parents, as well as child support and visitation from both parents in the event of separation or divorce.
  • If one of the parents in a marriage dies, the law provides financial security not only for the surviving spouse, but for the children as well, by ensuring eligibility to all appropriate entitlements, such as Social Security survivor benefits or employee pensions.

This economic safety net is critical for children in families of lesser means. However, the children of same-sex couples, whose marriages are unrecognized by law, are denied access to this safety net.

  • Instead, these children suffer from their parents' lack of access to the rights and protections that maximize their economic well-being.
  • Children are deprived of economic protection in case of death, disability, divorce, or other life-changing events.
  • These disadvantages have a disproportionately high impact on children in families of lesser means.
  • A 2000 report from Stanford University surveyed the legal and economic landscape and concluded that because same-sex couples are denied the freedom to marry, "the children living with same-sex partners are made to suffer." 

These and other significant disadvantages for the children of same-sex couples prompted the prestigious American Academy of Pediatrics, in February 2002, to issue a strong call for full legal recognition of same-sex relationships.

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