New York Times

Are Domestic Partnerships at Risk With the Legalization of Same-Sex Marriage?

As the the celebrations over Friday's same-sex court decision begin to simmer, some unintended consequences are coming to light.

"There are a whole lot of questions that are going to flow from this decision," said family law attorney Nancy Brodzki.

Brodzki says private companies could force couples into marriage, with an ultimatum, "Now that you have the right we're not going to recognize multiple classes of relationships because now everyone is entitled to equal rights and you're either married and you get your benefits or your not married and you don't get your benefits."

Some of the other reasons people would avoid marriage include: risking social security or retirement benefits, having to assume a partner's marital debt. And there's always the potential for an ugly divorce.

Some corporations are actually starting to phase out their domestic partner benefit programs, so if a woman wants her partner on her health insurance plan, they must get married.

A New York Times report shows Delta Air Lines, Verizon and IBM are a few corporate giants possibly moving in that direction.

Stratton Pollitzer, who is the deputy director of Equality Florida, sees value in both a marriage license and a domestic partnership agreement.

"Young people delaying marriage until they have established their professional careers, seniors who get together later in life and for tax implications can't remarry, there is no reason we should be celebrating this marriage equality victory by taking away other people's health care," Pollitzer said.

"It may seem simple but you still may be denying benefits to people that you really don't want to take benefits away from and that there may be very valid reasons for them not getting married but still entitled to some protections," added Brodski.

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