The subject of marriage is a particularly hot topic at the moment. As South Africans we are lucky enough to live in a country where marriage equality exists, but in the United States thousands of couples still fight every day for their right to join together in matrimony. Marriage equality only exists in selected states around America and what always blows my mind about this fight is that there are so many people indifferent to it. It is one thing to be for or against gay marriage, but it is the indifference towards this cause that I encounter on an almost daily basis that bothers me the most. I often find people who say things like “Marriage is just a piece of paper, so what difference does it make?” or “Just have a wedding. So what if you aren’t legally married?” It’s almost as if people actually think that the activists are fighting for the right to weddings instead of for the right to a legal recognized marriage between two people.
Now, of course finding the person you are prepared to commit yourself to for a lifetime is a very romantic thing. Relationships are romantic. Proposals are romantic. Weddings are romantic. Marriage itself might even be romantic. But marriage is also a very practical thing, and it is this practicality that is being denied to so many gay couples around the world.
Here are some of the practical benefits of marriage:
- When it comes to medical issues the spouse is always kept in loop of any medical updates. As the girlfriend / boyfriend, getting medical personnel to talk to you is a LOT trickier. As a spouse you are also entitled to make medical decisions regarding your spouse if he or she is unable to make them.
- Marriage is still the best platform from which to have a family. Having a child who does not share the same surname as you creates a lot of trouble when it comes to schools and other institutions. It might be silly that a mother / father should have to prove themselves just because of a differing surname, but it is an unfortunate reality.
- You have rights when it comes to wealth accumulated within your marriage. In South Africa many people believe that a common-law spouse has rights but this is not necessarily true.
- In the case of death you have legal claim to your spouse’s assets.
- You are in charge of decisions made with regards to your spouse’s burial / cremation.
- There are insurance premium benefits to being married. For example: married men are considered “more responsible” and their car insurance will go down once they get married.
Marriage is far more than just a piece of paper. Marriage tells the world that two people have made a lifelong commitment to each other and it is a commitment that is taken seriously by more than just the two people who have made it to each other.
Happy Wedding Planning!