Marriage (search) has its advantages -- but some think the nation’s laws give married couples too much favorable treatment, and the only way to even the playing field is to de-legalize the institution.
A group of legal scholars and gay advocacy groups are calling for marriage to be de-legalized in order to make the distribution of benefits more fair for people who aren’t married, including gay couples.
University of Houston (search ) Law School professor Victor Flatt cites social security, immigration, tax benefits and travel benefits as some of the perks married couples receive.
"Their idea is why should you be treated differently by the law just because you're married," said David Blankenhorn at the Institute for American Values (search). "Why should society hold up one particular family form and say we protect and support this family form but not others. That would be their main argument."
But opponents say the idea of de-legalizing marriage is a ploy by gay rights advocates.
"There's no lengths to which they won't go,” said Sandy Rios of Concerned Women for America (search). “And of course it undermines traditional marriage and we cannot allow them to do that."
Yet Rios is adamant about keeping one form of marriage de-legalized -- gay marriage. Later this year conservative groups hope to introduce an amendment to the Constitution that would not only define marriage as a union between a man and a woman but would also nullify state laws that grant gay couples equal status to heterosexual married couples.
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Steve Brown is an author, radio broadcaster and seminary professor at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida.