A legal netherworld

Same-sex families suffer from the ridiculous patchwork of laws the U.S. has regulating marriage. Most states are allowed to forego the Full Faith and Credit Clause and pretend as though a couple legally married in, say, Iowa is really single. This presents massive problems in family affairs, when tax season comes around, and for basic human decency.

That’s been a problem for Cari Searcy and Kim McKeand of Mobile, Ala. They married in California in September 2008 during the brief period before same-sex marriages were banned there by a ballot measure, Proposition 8.

It was a whirlwind wedding trip, and the couple promptly returned to Alabama — a state unlikely to recognize same-sex unions without some sort of federal mandate that for now seems far away.

Even with a marriage license, Searcy has been unable to complete a second-parent adoption and is not recognized by Alabama as a legal parent of the couple’s son, Khaya, whom McKeand gave birth to in 2006. Yet despite that rebuff, there’s no talk of moving out.

“We’re from the South — this is our home,” Searcy said. “If everybody moves to states that recognize it, how are we going to change?”

Day to day in Mobile, there’s little practical benefit to being married, Searcy said, though she and McKeand enjoy referring to each other as “my wife.”

“One of the biggest things — now that Khaya is talking — he’s constantly going around telling people, ‘My mommies are married,’” Searcy said. “He’s really proud of that. Seeing that through his eyes, that’s pretty special.”

This is the most obvious blight on American history since segregation. Do read the entire article; it offers a lot of insight into the practical side of marriage, effectively rebuffing the claims of bigots that same-sex couples can just get around not being married through other legal arrangements.

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