Marriage Equality USA

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We should all have the freedom to marry or stay married to the person we love regardless of our: 

  • Gender identity or gender marker
  • Sexual and romantic orientation
  • Expression of our identity or orientation
  • Conformity or nonconformity to the gender binary

When transgender people are denied access to all the rights, benefits, responsibilities, and protections that come with civil marriage, they are denied the opportunity to fully participate in society. This is what any other member of the LGBTQ community faces in the states that lack marriage equality.

Most people think that marriage equality is about the right for same-sex marriages, but it is more than that: it is the right to marry regardless of the gender of the partners. When we restrict marriage to only the gender binary, we fail to fully embrace the diversity of gender and orientation.

Not only will marriage equality help those who are transgender and are attracted to people with the same gender as their own, but it allows people already in loving and committed marriages to stay married when one partner transitions. 

When a transgender person falls in love and wants to get married, but they are not able to get their gender legally recognized on their birth certificate or government ID, marriage equality means that the gender of the partners is not a factor -- regardless of what the ID says.

Marriage Equality USA recognizes that those of us who are transgender have a diversity of needs that we are concerned about or focused on, and we prioritize those needs differently. We believe that marriage equality must include the needs of transgender and gender non-conforming people. We are committed to ensuring that those needs get recognized and addressed as we achieve marriage equality across the nation.

Among the 1,138 federal rights (plus the hundreds of unique state rights), benefits, responsibilities, and protections of marriage are:

  • Access to healthcare benefits of your spouse
  • Hospital visitation rights and ability to make medical decisions for your spouse
  • Tax benefits, like giving tax-free gifts and filing joint tax returns
  • The ability to bring a spouse from abroad to the U.S.
  • Avoidance of inheritance taxes when your spouse dies

The mother of a transgender man in North Carolina was kind enough to share her son's and son-in-law's marriage story with us for Transgender Awareness Week 2014. We hope you will enjoy this powerful love story: Remembering Nyk and Mateo's Marriage FOR ALL THE DAYS.

There were two interesting legal cases involving marriage, a  transgender spouse, and divorce. In each case a couple wished to dissolve an existing marriage, and in order to do so, needed the marriage to be recognized as legally valid in the first place. Jake Miller v. Elayne Angel took place in California, and Beatie v. Beatie, took place in Arizona. In each case the marriage was ruled legally valid, allowing the dissolution to proceed. Oddly enough, it is sometimes the sad dissolution of a relationship that sets important legal precedent that will help other couples to marry.



Denise Norris, is a former MEUSA Board Member and transgender pioneer. Her roots in the transgender community extend back more than 20 years from co-founding The Transexual Menace in 1993 to the creation of the Institute for Transgender Economic Advancement in 2014. In 2012, she received the Stonewall Spirit of Pride Award from the Stonewall National Museum and Archives for her contributions to the transgender community. Her vision for the future is that we will no longer be separated by letters like L, G, B and T, but will become one community, united in seeking equality for all genders and all orientations. 

MEUSA: Denise, why is marriage equality important for the transgender and gender non-conforming community?

Denise: One of the principal reasons that transgender people have been overlooked in marriage equality discussions is that many people mistakenly identify marriage as an issue only relevant to lesbians, gays and bisexuals. But transgender people face unique challenges when it comes to civil marriages which are part and parcel of real marriage equality. 

M: Why did you choose to work with MEUSA?

D: I have always been a strong supporter of marriage equality because of its impact on our entire community. As I see it, there is a tremendous overlap of the people and issues associated with sexual orientation and gender identity. We are all fighting the same war, just on different areas of the terrain. MEUSA as a truly inclusive force for marriage equality and has a history of engaging the transgender community and supporting trans-specific initiatives for equality. 

M: Are you married?

D: Do I have to be married to believe in marriage equality {laughs}? I was married and quickly divorced over 25 years ago and I have a natural daughter whom I love very much. In the intervening years, I have not found the right person with which to make a lifetime marriage commitment. But I am always open to the opportunity. 

M: As far as orientation, how do you identify? What pronouns do you prefer?

D: I identify as Omni-sexual which is like Pan-sexual. I am orientated slightly toward masculine presenting individuals and what counts for me is what is between someone’s ears, not what is between their legs. I prefer feminine pronouns: “She,” “Her” and “Her’s.”



Transgender Law Center
Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund
Transgender Awareness Week, Courtesy of GLAAD
National Center for Transgender Equality
International Day of Transgender Remembrance