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Should Unmarried Straight Couples Have Access to Benefits?

Same-sex marriage supporters say it's unjust that gay citizens cannot access spousal benefits like tax breaks and health insurance coverage from a spouse's employer. Their activism has resulted in domestic partnership policies and full marriage rights in a few states. While many gay-marriage activists view domestic partnership as separate and not equal, some opposite-sex couples now want to be treated as less than married.

After the US State Department decided to extend (some) federal benefits to gay and lesbian partners, straight workers have come forward asking for the same. The State Department is resisting because extending benefits to more than spouses is expensive for the government, or any employer for that matter. Now, one straight employee is suing.

Should straight couples have to get married to get access to spousal benefits? Even if it's expensive, would it make more sense to let everyone choose one person to extend benefits to, regardless of what type of relationship they have?

Source: Flickr User edwaado

Join The Conversation
danakscully64 danakscully64 7 years
b1uebunn: "Why not just get married?" In some cases, like in mine, the guy or girl is "not ready." I think it's BS after 5 years, personally, but I can't hold a gun to his head and make him marry me. Some couples don't believe in marriage and telling them they should go against their beliefs is pretty messed up. People have their reasons.
danakscully64 danakscully64 7 years
Yes. I've been with my boyfriend for almost 5 years (on the 27th) and I'm without insurance. He's in the Navy and he's not ready to get married, I am. Heaven forbid I get deathly ill or get diagnosed with cancer. Why should a couple who got married after 2 years of dating have benefits when I've committed myself to a guy for 5 years and don't qualify? Just because we didn't say vows and sign a piece of paper. Marriage is a huge step, it's sad that so many people feel pushed into it just for the benefits. In addition to no benefits, we are also missing out on about $400 extra A MONTH for not being married. It sucks all around. No wonder many military people marry quick.
b1uebunn b1uebunn 7 years
Hey, I don't care if people get married or not. But how is it cool to get essentially the exact same thing as a marriage just for the benefits? You're arguing you want a domestic partnership for mystical and unknown reasons, but why would you want it? Are your motives so much purer than those you'd disparage for marrying for benefits, for wanting a domestic partnership? You say you're committed--super. I'm sure you are. Why don't you behave as though you are? Domestic partnerships are semantics. You have a semantic reason for not getting married? gymnast - What would the difference for you be, for in example, just going to the courthouse and getting a legal marriage, and then later having your amazing dream wedding? What is the difference to any of you between a partnership and a marriage? Why are we inventing a third relationship category? Most importantly, I think it's great that conservatives who have demanded that homosexuals not have access to marriage have made this third category that HAS to be given to straight people. Thus, THEY have devalued marriage. They have made their own worst nightmare by being anti-gay bigots.
imLissy imLissy 7 years
Soooo many people get married or get married before they're ready, just for health insurance. I've been praying my fiance doesn't get into an accident or something before our wedding. It would have been really nice if he could have been on my insurance this whole time.
tlsgirl tlsgirl 7 years
"Actually, it does." Well, not to put too fine a point on it, but screw that. I know plenty of married couples who aren't nearly as committed as I am. And the reason that I'm not sharing my reasons is because they're personal, and I don't feel the need to overshare my whole life on the internet. I don't think it's admirable to to get married just to get health benefits. "So, why did you kids decide to get married? Oh, well his health insurance is great and I didn't have any..." How effing romantic. Marriage isn't for everyone. Please stop disparaging others' relationships just because you don't agree with their views.
b1uebunn b1uebunn 7 years
Further, a domestic partnership is still a legally binding relationship. What are you saving yourself from?
b1uebunn b1uebunn 7 years
"All makes sense to me. I don't need to go into it here, but I'm not necessarily ever planning to get married. It doesn't make my 6+ year relationship any less valid or worthy of the benefits of a married partnership." Actually, it does. Get married or don't. I agree, people should have the same rights; marriage or not. If people can't get into the reasons, then your argument will continue to look ridiculous. If you're in a serious committed relationship, why wouldn't you want to get married?
Yogaforlife Yogaforlife 7 years
Tls - I agree with you. You are obviously in a serious committed relationship and I think you should have the ability to share benefits. I think though if we go this route there needs to be some guidelines to prevent people from scamming the system. Back in my early 20's I knew too many shady people who would have taken advantage of getting somebody else's benefits when they weren't in a real relationship. Who would have had no problem dating someone for a few months so they could get their health benefits while they didn't have any.
tlsgirl tlsgirl 7 years
I don't know how what I said doesn't make sense. Everyone should have the same rights. Check. You shouldn't have to get married to get them, as there are any number of reasons for choosing against marriage. Check. Everyone should be able to get married if that's what they so choose. Check. All makes sense to me. I don't need to go into it here, but I'm not necessarily ever planning to get married. It doesn't make my 6+ year relationship any less valid or worthy of the benefits of a married partnership.
Yogaforlife Yogaforlife 7 years
I think we should just allow same-sex marriages and then we don't have to worry so much about domestic partnership benefits. We'd eliminate the potential issues of single people wanting to ensure their 3-month bf/gf who just got fired from a job and is in need of health insurance. If we are going to go the route of allowing singles to provide benefits for a partner (of any sex), then I think it should be made pretty stringent such as they must also be filing taxes together, have proof of cohabitation/relationship for a minimum number of years, etc.
Leanne1078 Leanne1078 7 years
I'm sorry, explain to me how the term "domestic partnership" is meaningless? I've only been in one for 8+ years. I think when you show that kind of commitment, it does mean something! It's not like we aren't going to get married, its just that it has never made sense going through college and then trying to build up some sort of stable money situation. I know plenty of couples that live together for years before they get married, and those are the ones that seem to make it work the best.
soapbox soapbox 7 years
Can't we give gay married couples benefits first, before we go on increasing the national debt with giving every boyfriend and girlfriend benefits? Sure, it doesn't sound like a bad idea at first, but when you think about it, its a total disaster. There is no way to regulate this. And when the unmarried couple split, I could imagine things would get messy.
cotedazur cotedazur 7 years
Where is the response option "Gay couples should be able to marry so that we never again have to discuss meaningless in-between terms like 'domestic partnership'"?
Hex Hex 7 years
So let me test my understanding... no one has any right to police homosexual relationships BUT if straight people want "this" then they have to do "that" oO Look at that.. it's a double standard. I'm not exactly looking for the domestic partnership sign up sheet here but I've got at least half a dozen reasons not to get married and I'm not getting into them here and now. Bottomline having the option to access certain benefits for me and the man I've be co-habitating with for FIVE YEARS wouldn't suck.
staple-salad staple-salad 7 years
No, these opportunities are only in place because our society is too backwards to allow a loving couple to get married just because of what's in their pants. Straight people already have easy access to these rights.
Autumns_Elegy Autumns_Elegy 7 years
I think if they are in a defacto relationship then yes. If you're just shacking up for the benefits, then no.
b1uebunn b1uebunn 7 years
P.S. Yes, everyone should have the same rights, period. Not crappy middle of the road rights. Marriage. Gay, straight, whatever.
b1uebunn b1uebunn 7 years
tlsgirl, that doesn't make any sense. What is the difference from having some of these rights and just getting married? Why not just get married? This is bizarre. I am 100% pro gay marriage. I am not pro dipshit nonsense "I don't want to get married because I don't want to hurt our relationship, but I want all the same benefits" bs. Get married or don't.
arlyle arlyle 7 years
With a divorce rate of 50%, straight people who have healthy committed relationships should be able to share benefits. My company offers them and my boyfriend of five years and I love it. We shouldn't be getting married just to share benefits and a piece of paper shouldn't be the thing you have to get to prove you love someone.
Leanne1078 Leanne1078 7 years
The company I work for has always extended benefits for domestic partners, whether same sex or not. It is an awesome perk! It doesn't affect me because my man and I both work there, but it is still great. Even though the employee is free, you do still have to pay for the partner until you've worked there a really long time but it is still cheaper than getting separate insurance.
tlsgirl tlsgirl 7 years
Dear b1uebunn, Some straight people don't want to get married. It should be their choice, just as it should be a choice for gay couples to choose to get married. Everyone should have the same rights, period. Love, tlsgirl
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