Did Marriage Equality Bill Fail to Protect the Children?

children of same-sex marriage; photo of young girl kneeling on park benchWhen the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its decision that paved the way for legally-sanctioned, same-sex marriages, it granted couples in those unions equal accessibility to some of the same rights traditional married couples enjoyed. These rights include, but are not limited to, such things health insurance coverage under family plans, social security and insurance survivor’s benefits, and involvement in end-of-life medical decisions. While the Court’s ruling did protect spouses in same-sex relationships, it seems to have failed to go far enough to protect children of those relationships.

In traditional relationships, there is such a thing as marital presumption. This presumption means that with children born into a marriage, a legal parent-child relationship is recognized between the children and their mothers’ husbands regardless of the existence of any biological relationship between the two. This same presumption does not exist for children of same-sex marriages.

Beyond denying certain financial and health benefits to children of same-sex marriage, the lack of this presumption could prove disruptive to the child’s family life as well. In traditional marriages, if something were to happen to a child’s biological mother, the father would still be considered a legal parent. That is not the case in same-sex marriages where the non-biological parent has no marital presumption. Adoption is not always the answer either since a number of states fail to recognize adoptions by same-sex spouses.

To read more about the issues facing children of same-sex marriages, read “The New Battleground for Same-Sex Couples is Equal Rights for Their Kids,” by Tanya Washington, a professor of law at Georgia State University.