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The Benefits of Legal Marriage

by C. Ann Shepherd

The typical married couple in America receives over 160 benefits and rights by virtue of their union. It seems ironic that a heterosexual couple married for one hour, has more rights and benefits than a same-sex couple that has been together for 30 years. The following is only a sample of some of the rights and benefits provided by legal marriage.

Note: Marriage benefits are granted on a state by state basis, and may differ from one state to the next.

Common Benefits of Marriage:

Insurance benefits through a spouse's employer

Insurance discounts offered to married couples and related persons living in same household

Government benefits such as Social Security and Medicare

Veteran's/military benefits offered to spouses (education, medical care, housing loans)

Income tax deductions, credits and exemptions

Tax relief for natural disaster losses

Immigration of foreign partners

Witness and court testimony rights

Continuation of lease rights (renewal of lease)

Community property rights

Inheritance rights

Payment of wages for deceased partners and worker's compensation benefits

Right to enter into pre-marital agreement

Automatic rights of survivorship

Consent to post-mortem examination

Right to make burial arrangements

Bereavement leave for partner, child, or partner's close relative

Family leave to care for partner or child during illness

Right to make decisions in medical emergencies ( "next of kin")

Visitation rights for partner or child in hospital or other public institutions

Custodial rights for a seriously injured partner

Right to file a wrongful death suit

Tuition discounts/use of facilities

Company benefits/perks offered to spouses

Commercial discounts/incentives offered only to married couples or families

Joint child custody, adoption and foster care rights

Equitable division of property, child custody, visitation rights and support in the case of divorce

The right to obtain domestic violence protection orders