Is Marriage a RITE or a RIGHT? If it is a RITE, it's up to the church/mosque/temple in question as to whether they wish to bless the union of people, which people they wish to be allowed to marry, and when. IF marriage is simply a RITE and there is a seperation between church and state whereby the state/local//federal governments ... Then Prop-8, which clearly limits which unions churches may and may not bless, is unconstitutional. Marriage is not simply a RITE. If it was, then any church could choose to marry same-sex couples and there would be SFA that the gvt could do about it. Churches/mosques/temples don't marry people though. They conduct the ceremony and bless the marriage. Then they fill in the proper paperwork and send it off to the federal government and state government and that's how Marriage happens. The same forms are filled out in court-rooms, at beaches, in parks etc... for civil ceremonies. It's the form that makes the marriage. No form, no legal entity..no rights afforded to wedded couples. What's the difference between a church wedding and a civil ceremony? The blessing...that's it. In the eyes of the gvt, there is NO difference. There can't be. The gvt cannot afford more or less rights based on the religion used during the ceremony or the lack thereof. SO...Marriage is more than just a RITE. It changes things from the point of view of the local, state and federal gvts. It changes things for insurance companies, banks, hospitals, etc etc... That little box that get's ticked on forms does more than just allow you to call your spouse 'husband' or 'wife'. What rights? Legal, social, emotional, economical, spiritual, and religious rights. A marriage bestows rights and obligations on the married parties, and sometimes on relatives as well, being the sole mechanism for the creation of affinal ties (in-laws). These may include: Right to benefits while married: employment assistance and transitional services for spouses of members being separated from military service; continued commissary privileges per diem payment to spouse for federal civil service employees when relocating Indian Health Service care for spouses of Native Americans (in some circumstances) sponsor husband/wife for immigration benefits Larger benefits under some programs if married, including: veteran's disability Supplemental Security Income disability payments for federal employees medicaid property tax exemption for homes of totally disabled veterans income tax deductions, credits, rates exemption, and estimates wages of an employee working for one's spouse are exempt from federal unemployment tax Joint and family-related rights: joint filing of bankruptcy permitted joint parenting rights, such as access to children's school records family visitation rights for the spouse and non-biological children, such as to visit a spouse in a hospital or prison next-of-kin status for emergency medical decisions or filing wrongful death claims custodial rights to children, shared property, child support, and alimony after divorce domestic violence intervention access to "family only" services, such as reduced rate memberships to clubs & organizations or residency in certain neighborhoods Preferential hiring for spouses of veterans in government jobs Tax-free transfer of property between spouses (including on death) and exemption from "due-on-sale" clauses. Special consideration to spouses of citizens and resident aliens Threats against spouses of various federal employees is a federal crime Right to continue living on land purchased from spouse by National Park Service when easement granted to spouse Court notice of probate proceedings Domestic violence protection orders Existing homestead lease continuation of rights Regulation of condominium sales to owner-occupants exemption Funeral and bereavement leave Joint adoption and foster care Joint tax filing Insurance licenses, coverage, eligibility, and benefits organization of mutual benefits society Legal status with stepchildren Making spousal medical decisions Spousal non-resident tuition deferential waiver Permission to make funeral arrangements for a deceased spouse, including burial or cremation Right of survivorship of custodial trust Right to change surname upon marriage Right to enter into prenuptial agreement Right to inheritance of property Spousal privilege in court cases (the marital confidences privilege and the spousal testimonial privilege) For those divorced or widowed, the right to many of ex- or late spouse's benefits, including: Social Security pension veteran's pensions, indemnity compensation for service-connected deaths, medical care, and nursing home care, right to burial in veterans' cemeteries, educational assistance, and housing survivor benefits for federal employees survivor benefits for spouses of longshoremen, harbor workers, railroad workers additional benefits to spouses of coal miners who die of black lung disease $100,000 to spouse of any public safety officer killed in the line of duty continuation of employer-sponsored health benefits renewal and termination rights to spouse's copyrights on death of spouse continued water rights of spouse in some circumstances payment of wages and workers compensation benefits after worker death making, revoking, and objecting to post-mortem anatomical gifts Responsibilities Spousal income and assets are counted in determining need in many forms of government assistance, including: veteran's medical and home care benefits housing assistance housing loans for veterans child's education loans educational loan repayment schedule agricultural price supports and loans eligibility for federal matching campaign funds Ineligible for National Affordable Housing program if spouse ever purchased a home: Subject to conflict-of-interest rules for many government and government-related jobs Ineligible to receive various survivor benefits upon remarriage ...just to name a few. Obviously, Marriage gives the couple more RIGHTS than the RITE does.