The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

July 3, 2013

Rulings on same-sex unions place spotlight on the weathered institution of marriage

(Continued)

“Americans want to get married, which is why I see the institution as strong,” said Shapiro, who was a marriage counselor for four decades. “Even the percentage of divorced people who want to get married again is high, which maybe is the triumph of hope over experience. But most people crave the stability in life that marriage can provide. The fact is it can make people incredibly happy.”

For same-sex marriage advocates, the actual decision whether to get hitched is part of a larger issue. What’s more important is the equality afforded by the two Supreme Court rulings last week — a landmark moment in what many see as the defining civil rights issue of our time. The high court struck down the core of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act that denied same-sex benefits and issued a narrow ruling on Proposition 8 that set the stage for wedding bells to ring again for gays in California.

“I know many heterosexual couples who have been together 20-plus years and aren’t married, but that’s their choice,” said Richard Speakman, of Mountain View, who married his partner, David Speakman, before voters passed the Proposition 8 ban of same-sex marriage in 2008. “I also know many same-sex couples that don’t want to get married. But we all deserve that choice.”

Leslie Kornblum and Roberta Friedman, of Saratoga, have been together 26 years and made their choice when they were among the 18,000 California couples who wed during that short window in 2008. But because the federal government had never recognized it, their relationship has continued to face long-running tax and legal issues that even complicated the adoption of their two daughters from China.

But what brought Kornblum, 48, to tears last Wednesday when the rulings were announced was knowing that the marriage vows they hold sacred now are widely recognized.

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