Gay Bigamy Now!

Since well before I thought the matter one for serious consideration, Andrew Sullivan has been making insightful, compelling arguments in favor of same-sex marriage.  This, alas, is not one of them.

A reader makes an excellent point:

One thing that struck me about the DOJ’s argument that DOMA does not violate the equal protection clause since homosexuals are still able to marry people of the opposite sex, is that this ignores the existence of same-sex marriage on the state level. If two women get married in Iowa, they can no longer enter into opposite-sex marriages, even though they still don’t have federal recognition.So right now, there exist a specific class of people (those who are married to a person of the same sex) who are totally excluded from federal marriage benefits.

Yes. That would be me and my husband. And we may be forced to separate as a result.

So . . . absent the right to marry the man he loves, Andrew would marry a chick in order to get “federal marriage benefits”?  Really?  What benefits are those, exactly?  The right to pass on half his Social Security check some decades hence to some random woman he’s not in love with?

Why would he want to do that?

The only other benefits that come to mind for someone who isn’t a military retiree, disabled veteran, or the like — which Andrew isn’t — are the right to leave property without a will and deathbed hospital visitation.  The first of those is a matter for the states and the second a matter of hospital policy; both are easily remedied.  But even if we grant artistic license here, I’m not sure what a sham marriage to an unspecified woman would accomplish.  I suppose having someone visit you in the hospital is better than no one; but it’s hardly the same as having your life’s partner there.

And this has them seriously considering abandoning their marriage?

Being unable to form a legal union with the person you love and/or being denied the benefits that traditional marriages convey is a legitimate gripe.  I’m not sure, however, that the fact that being legally married — with all attendant benefits — to that person  in one’s state denies one the right to also be married to someone one doesn’t wish to marry is a substantial additional burden.

Photo: Australian News and Information Bureau

FILED UNDER: Gender Issues, Law and the Courts, LGBTQ Issues, , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Dave Schuler says:

    Is he saying that the reason that homogamy is an issue with him is rent-seeking? Sounds like an argument against rather than for.

  2. gawaine says:

    I don’t really follow Sullivan – but I thought his main beef was the fact that he’s not a US Citizen, and doesn’t have a path to become one via gay marriage.

    Here’s where he talks about it.

  3. Mark says:

    I was discussing with a friend what things were denied a gay couple not recognized as spouses by the federal govt and came across this:

    it’s a much longer list that I realized.

  4. Joe R. says:

    The first of those is a matter for the states and the second a matter of hospital policy; both are easily remedied.

    Then why haven’t they been? And in hospital conflicts between parents and gay spouses, do you really think a significant number of hospitals (at this point) are going to ban parents in favor of gay spouses?

  5. Our Paul says:

    Slightly different problem to consider: New York State, and presumably others, have provisions in their legal structure to recognize marriages performed in other states or countries.

    So what, you say…

    So plenty say the legal beagles. Same sex County or State employees cannot be denied marital benefits, the biggy being health insurance. Hold your breath, and cross your fingers, no matter what side you are on, it may go to the State Supreme Court.