What are some of the legal challenges facing same-sex couples who want to get married? 

Similar to their heterosexual counterparts, same-sex couples go through intense processes of relationship formation and development. They form deep emotional attachments and commitments to one another. This makes them just as psychologically healthy and well-adjusted as their heterosexual counterparts. 

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They are also just as capable parents as heterosexual couples, raising children who thrive and enjoy social and emotional success. These same-sex couples are raising more children than ever before, with 2.8 million children in same-sex families today, compared to just 2 million in 1970. 

Same-sex couples may face unique legal and financial challenges, however. Some of these challenges involve the lack of marriage and parental ties to children, which can impact the way they access public assistance and other government-based economic protections. 

Inconsistent definitions of family, which exclude non-legally related children from receiving safety net programs or other benefits, create a climate of discrimination for LGBT families. This is particularly true for LGBT families who raise children without a legal parent-child relationship. 

As a result, many same-sex couples are forced to take more steps to protect their families. Often, this means establishing legal protections that can cost thousands of dollars in fees and expenses, such as acquiring second-parent adoptions, parental-guardianship agreements, birth certificates, and wills and estate plans. 

These measures can help families obtain more economic security, including access to health care, food, housing, and other services. But these efforts can be expensive and time-consuming, making them out of reach for many LGBT families. 

Even if families are able to secure these protections, they still face legal hurdles that can prevent them from obtaining benefits and other services. The federal government, for example, prohibits same-sex couples from receiving government-based benefits if they have never married under state law. In addition, states and local governments use inconsistent definitions of family to determine who can qualify for services. 

This uneven application of public assistance and other government-based benefits affects families of all shapes and sizes. It can prevent families from receiving services that could be helpful to them, such as financial counseling, job training, and childcare. It can also prevent families from receiving benefits that could be available to other types of families, such as health insurance, housing assistance, and Medicaid. 

Moreover, laws that limit the rights of same-sex couples to marry can contribute to the stigma surrounding gay and lesbian identities and relationships. This can have a negative impact on the mental and physical health of both same-sex couples and their children. 

Fortunately, many countries around the world have taken action to address this issue. In 2013, England and Wales passed legislation to legalize same-sex marriage, and Scotland followed suit in 2014. Since then, Finland, Luxembourg, Northern Ireland, Spain, and France have all enacted similar measures.