By Henni Espinosa, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

Mar. 27, 2013

SAN FRANCISCO – The Clinton-era Defense of Marriage Act, enacted in 1996, restricts federal benefits to only opposite-sex marriage in the U.S.
Same-sex couples, even those legally married in their home states, are denied more than 1,000 federal rights and benefits.

Among them are the right to make decisions on a partner’s behalf in a medical emergency and the right to take up to 12 weeks of leave from work to care for a seriously sick partner.

Edgar de los Angeles, who joined a protest in San Francisco to call for marriage equality, was in this predicament when his former partner became very ill.

“I was fortunate that my ex, when he had a heart attack, they actually led me me in to the ICU. The hospital was very understanding. We weren’t married but we were very close. Hopefully, there are more people out there that don’t have to worry about that anymore,” he said.

Other rights denied to same-sex couples include the right to assume parenting rights and responsibilities when children are brought into a family through birth, adoption, a surrogate or other means, the right to inherit property from a partner in the absence of a will, the right to equally share property and debt in the event of a breakup, the right to social security survivor benefits, the right to file joint tax returns and the right to petition for same-sex partners to immigrate to America.

Roderick Aviles and his partner of three years, Ricardo Santos, have been struggling to maintain a long-distance relationship. Santos is from Spain and visits the U.S. as often as he can but he said it’s been hard for them, not just emotionally but financially as well. Aviles wants to marry Santos, and file an immigration petition for him so they can finally be together. But he is not given the right to do that, because of DOMA.

“If we can’t be with the people that we care about, it might come to a point where we actually have to pick over our loved-one or our country,” Aviles said.

You may contact Henni Espinosa at for more information.

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