Marriage Equality: Where Do Marriage Promotion Policies Fit?
by MELANIE HEATH, NYU Press blog
The debate over marriage equality for lesbians and gay men is once again taking shape to be a hot item in this election year. A number of events have put the issue in the spotlight. The Washington state legislature passed a bill allowing same-sex marriage, the legislature in Maryland followed suit, and Chris Christie vetoed a same-sex marriage bill in New Jersey. While voters in Maine will consider whether to legalize same-sex marriage, those in North Carolina and Minnesota will consider referendums this year on constitutional amendments to ban it. Soon, there will be a decision in the federal appeals court hearing on whether to uphold a lower court’s decision that a section of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) law banning federal recognition of same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.
While marriage equality remains a topic of public debate, and marriage is illegal for lesbians and gay men in most states, more issues are at stake than generally acknowledged in the discussion. In fact, a number of recent laws and policies pose an additional challenge to end the types of discrimination based on legal marriage. These laws specify terms for a new direction in public policy to promote heterosexual marriage as a route out of poverty and off welfare.