High Court decision a green light for gay couples - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

High Court decision a green light for gay couples

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

If you would have asked Will Batts 10 years ago, if the federal government would strike down a 1996 law blocking federal recognition of gay marriage, he would have adamantly said, "it will never happen."

Even so the executive director of the Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center, legally married his partner 15 years ago in Connecticut and moved to Tennessee where same sex marriage is not recognized.

"I'm ready for that to change, we've been together for a very long time," he said. "It's over 5,000 days. I figured out the other day that we've been married, but without legal benefits that our straight friends would see after 10 seconds."

He called Wednesday's decision by the U.S. Supreme Court a victory for same sex couples. At least 13 states now recognize federal benefits for all couples regardless of sex, but at least two-thirds (2/3's) of our nations states do not. The reason is they have constitutional amendments banning same sex marriages.

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"There's all kinds of complications with kids, if your raising children, if you have a house together and all sorts of legal things that happen when you're married. It's complicated," Batts said. "If we were all on the same system, it would be less complicated."

He says even though his marriage to his husband of 15 years is not recognized by the State of Tennessee, he says crossing the federal benefits hurdle means change is coming. At this point he still doesn't qualify for his partner's federal benefits like social security or tax returns, but they have their own safeguards, including a will, power of attorney and all of their documents have a provision to protect each spouse.

"That doesn't mean everything will be taken care of," Batts said. "There's always situations that come up, but people don't realize until there's a crisis. We think were protected as mush as  we can be, but if we're legally married we wouldn't have to worry about that."

Batts believes one day in his lifetime, all states will treat same sex couples just like straight couples.

"Equal rights, not special rights," he said. "Equal rights just the same as any other couple."

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