In U.S. the Supreme Court will make a decision within the next few days about same-sex-marriage. Federal employees are fighting very hard to get the DOMA, the called Defense of the marriage act overturned.
DOMA doesn´t allow the federal government to recognize same-sex-marriages, meaning that federal employees are discriminated against because their spouses and they do not receive equal benefits.
There are many questions, for instance, if couples move from one state to another, the DOMA will protect the states where there is not same-sex-marriage, but they might be able to get federal benefits.
On another hand, gays and lesbians will have to move to another state where the civil unions are allowed. Moreover, if they want to get divorced then they have to move back to the state where same-sex-marriage is legal.
It makes sense that gay and lesbian couples are going to be entitled to have full employment benefits.
Furthermore, if DOMA is overturned, spouses will get spousal benefits in the 12 states where same-sex-marriage is legal.
At this point is a good idea to see how same-sex-marriage works in other countries. For example Canada , the fourth country in the world to allow same-sex-marriage, at the beginning, in 1999 the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that gay and lesbian couples were entitled to have financial and legal benefits commonly associated with marriage, but those rights varied from province to province.
After several rules and appeals among federal and provincial courts, between 2002 and 2003, the superiors courts of Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia concluded that the restriction of opposite-sex-couples was discriminatory and to the equality clause of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom.
Civil status is a provincial jurisdiction in Canada, but the definition of marriage is a federal law. In 2003, a new draft of the bill was issued: 1) Marriage, for civil purposes, is the lawful union of two persons to the exclusion of all others. 2) Nothing in this Act affects the freedom of officials of religious groups to refuse to perform marriages that are not in accordance with their religious beliefs. Furthermore, the Supreme Court of Canada, declared that same-sex partners must have full rights and benefits, which mean employee´s pension plan, social security benefits and immigration rights, will have equality with heterosexual couples.
Obama spoke about the current issue, “we´re reaching a turning point. Weve become more loving, as a country and as a people. Hearts and minds change with time. Laws do, too”
The debate at this point is offensive to same-sex-partners. It is not an issue about beliefs, is an issue about legality and human rights. For years I lived in Canada and it is somewhat unbelievable the debate about something that Canada solved successfully years ago. In Canada people have learned to respect and embrace the LGBT community as any other human being.
Canadian´s opinion on same-sex-marriage changed dramatically, it went from minority support to majority support and the result brought acceptance and positive feelings towards gays and lesbians, according to a study by Mark W. Lehman.
A decision by the court about DOMA will be made next week, with it we expect that civil human rights and justice will win the battle.
By: Oskar Guzman
Source: The Washington Post, Reuters, BBC news.