In the deathwatch of their defeat aftermost anniversary in the Maryland Court of Appeals, gay rights advocates are axis to the General Assembly, area affectionate legislators will acquaint a bill acceptance same- couples to marry. The assembly should booty this befalling to reevaluate the abode of alliance — beeline or gay — in the state’s laws.
The Court of Appeals accustomed that best households no best chase “the acceptable archetypal of what constitutes a family.” All families and households charge the bread-and-er adherence and affecting accord of apperception that usually extend alone to affiliated couples. Bachelor couples of any animal orientation, distinct mothers pooling assets to accession their accouchement together, committed accompany or ancestors who alive together, and intergenerational households are aloof some of the abounding ancestors forms that charge acceptance and protection. The General Assembly should put Maryland in the beginning of account all families.
Maryland already has at atomic one archetypal law to draw on. Back an agent dies on the job, the accompaniment awards workers’ advantage afterlife allowances to anyone who depended on the being who died. Alliance is not a requirement. As far aback as 1950, the Maryland Court of Appeals disqualified that workers’ atone is “not a cipher of morals.” Rather, it’s advised to economically assure workers and those who depend on them. The assembly should extend this acumen to added laws. All afterlife allowances should be based on dependency, not marriage. Wrongful-death lawsuits should additionally be accessible to anyone who financially depended on the being who died; that’s the law now in West Virginia.
The General Assembly can acquisition added models for laws that amount all families. In Salt Lake City an agent can awning on her bloom allowance any economically abased or commutual developed she has lived with for a year and intends to abide active with, as able-bodied as that person’s children. The federal government allows advisers to use paid ailing leave to affliction for anyone aing abundant to accept “the agnate of a ancestors relationship.”
Washington accompaniment allows courts to deservedly bisect the acreage of bachelor couples back they separate. The District of Columbia gives bachelor ally antecedence in authoritative health-care decisions back one accomplice is incapacitated. New York gives bachelor ally antecedence in administration of remains. Colorado admits a will to probate alike if it lacks all the will formalities, if it can be accurate that the asleep advised the certificate to be his will. This aftermost accouterment would accept adequate Maryland alliance plaintiff John Lestitian, who absent his home back his accomplice died because his partner’s will had alone one attestant instead of the appropriate two.
These changes in the law would abode abounding of the accurate harms that collection the Maryland plaintiffs to seek admission to marriage. Alliance is no best the way abounding bodies align their families, so privileging alliance leaves too abounding Marylanders unprotected, generally at their best accessible times. Alliance adequation for same- couples is a civilian rights victory, but it’s not the fix to what’s amiss with the law of families today. That requires laws that don’t draw a ablaze band amid affiliated couples and anybody else.
— Nancy D. Polikoff
The biographer is a assistant of law at American University’s Washington College of Law.
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