Around the world, same-sex marriage is slowly gaining a foothold. To date, five countries including: The Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Norway, and Sweden allow the marriage of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. Civil unions, registered partnerships, and domestic partnerships are available with a wide range of rights in twenty other countries including regions of Australia and South America (Glass 141). But the United States lags behind many of these countries. Currently, only six states offer same-sex marriage, those being: New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, and The District of Columbia (National Conference of State Legislation). .
While a few other states offer civil unions or domestic partnerships, most states have constitutional amendments defining marriage as a union of one man and one woman. On the federal level, President Bill Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act or DOMA into effect in 1996, discriminating against same-sex couples in two ways. First, it allows states the refusal to recognize legal marriages of same-sex couples. Second, it denies otherwise legally married same-sex couples the right to receive federal benefits and protections that heterosexual couples enjoy (Minter pp-pp). .
This means that all same-sex couples, regardless of their marital status, are carved out of all federal statutes, regulations, and rulings applicable to all other married people, thereby denying them over 1,100 federal benefits and protections. As a result, even in the seven states and District of Columbia where same-sex marriage has been legalized, same-sex couples cannot file their taxes jointly, take unpaid leave to care for a sick spouse, or receive equal family health and pension benefits as federal civilian employees, just to name a few examples. Denying one group the right to be in a legal union has many adverse emotional and financial consequences, therefore legalization of same-sex marriage is necessary on the state and federal level to provide equality of benefits.