Marriage is unique and special. It says "we're family" in a way no other word can. It's the ultimate expression of love, commitment and responsibility for taking care of each other.
However, tens of thousands of lawfully married same-sex couples are excluded from federal protections and responsibilities conferred by marriage - including access to health care, parenting and immigration rights, Social Security, veterans and survivor benefits - because of the discriminatory so-called Defense of Marriage Act.
DOMA was enacted in 1996 before same-sex couples could marry anywhere in the world. Today, six states and the District of Columbia allow the freedom to marry and it is estimated as many as 100,000 same-sex couples now are married.
However, DOMA mandates unequal treatment of these lawfully married same-sex couples and prevents them from caring for and taking responsibility for one another.
This is why many people in Tiffin (including myself) have joined the Respect for Marriage Coalition, a partnership of civil rights, faith, health, labor, legal, LGBT, student and women's organizations working to build support for the Respect for Marriage Act and repeal the discriminatory so-called Defense of Marriage Act.
The Respect for Marriage Act (H.R. 1116 and S. 598) would repeal DOMA and end the practice of singling out legally married same-sex couples for discriminatory treatment. The Respect for Marriage Act would allow committed same-sex couples the same safety and security afforded all married couples.
The Respect for Marriage Act does not tell states whom they must marry, whom they must treat as married or how they must treat married couples, nor does it tell any religion what ceremonies to perform.
Marriage matters to gay and lesbian couples in similar ways that it matters to everyone. To some people, gay and lesbian couples may seem different from straight couples, but we share similar values - such as the importance of family; worries such as making ends meet or the possibility of losing a job; and hopes and dreams, such as finding that special someone to grow old with.
Everyone deserves to be able to protect the people they love, which is why we support the freedom to marry and are fighting to pass the Respect for Marriage Act and repeal DOMA.
Dylan Poe, Tiffin