The State of New York made history this week. The governor signed a bill legalizing gay marriage, becoming the sixth and largest state to make such a big change.
Thousands of members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender (LGBT) community and their friends and family rejoiced in the decision.
But states that are legalizing gay marriage are doing more than just allowing for big parties and for those seeking marriage to legalize their commitment. In short, this legislation is more than just an excuse for a big wedding party. It will have a lot of impact in many different areas of our society, including health insurance.
What does legalizing gay marriage have to do with health insurance? Legalizing gay marriage is not the only piece of legislation and support the LGBT community has been seeking.
One of the biggest support items has been health insurance. Currently, health insurance plans like self employed health insurance, employer based health insurance and private health insurance will let a policy holder get a plan. That plan can be extended to cover your dependents, including spouse and children. With gay marriages not considered legal or legally binding, health insurance policies are currently not extended to the partner or their children.
What sort of implications does this have? For starters, the partner has no legal rights. If one is sick, the other has no rights usually enjoyed by the spouse. He or she will not be able to talk to the doctor like a traditional family member would or they might not be able to become the recipient to life insurance either.
For both partners to be recognized as legal parents of their children, they would have to live in a place where same sex marriage is legal. If not, only one would be considered the legal parent. That means only one of them will be able to make medical, educational and other legal decisions for their children. Which causes a lot of hassle for the family, as well as leaving an emotional toll on the family.
So with the instituted changes with legalizing same sex marriage, these are some things that could change. Many gay activists view this as a triumph, but also as a stepping stone to more freedoms and rights for gay couples. For many, legalized marriage is just the first step to other freedoms.
However, many states are considering about adopting plans that gives gay couples medical and educational rights without permitting legalized gay marriage. In an order to keep marriage between a man and a woman, but to appease those seeking rights, these states are trying to find a middle ground between two dueling groups.
So, what can you expect to see? For sure, you will see these two opposing groups battling it out in the courtrooms. Conservatives will argue it is an attack on families and gay activists will argue that legalizing gay marriage is a step toward equality. How will it turn out? Your guess is as good as mine.