CBS Frets Gay Marriage Not National Enough, But Will Also Cause Some Couples Problems

 As Sunday’s CBS Evening News recounted the day of marriage ceremonies for gay couples in New York state, where same-sex marriage has just been legalized, correspondent Jim Axelrod spent much of his report focusing on all the marriage benefits couples will not enjoy because the federal government does not recognize such unions. But he also found a consequence for some couples who may lose domestic partner benefits from their employers who are now planning to cut back such benefits and pressure couples to get married to qualify.

Substitute host Norah O’Donnell introduced the report warning of the federal government’s lack of recognition:

  This was an historic day in New York state, the first day that same-sex couples could legally be married in the sixth and largest state to recognize the ceremony. More than 1,000 couples rushed to take advantage. But winning recognition from the federal government remains elusive . 

After a soundbite of one gay man who had just gotten married, Axelrod listed benefits he would still miss out on:

 DAVID HERNANDEZ, NEWLYWED: We're so honored to be able to be part of all the couples, all the loving couples in New York, and have the same rights and promise.

JIM AXELROD: But not when it comes to income taxes, inheriting a spouse's Social Security benefits and family medical leave because federal law does not recognize gay marriage. 

The CBS correspondent soon noted the down side for gay couples who may not want to get married: "And some companies are phasing out domestic partner benefits in states where gay marriage is legal, and requiring gay employees to be married to keep their health coverage."

Below is a complete transcript from the report from the Sunday, July 24, CBS Evening News :

 NORAH O’DONNELL: This was an historic day in New York state, the first day that same-sex couples could legally be married in the sixth and largest state to recognize the ceremony. More than 1,000 couples rushed to take advantage. But winning recognition from the federal government remains elusive. More on the big day from Jim Axelrod.

JIM AXELROD: Claudia Bruce and Lydia Nusman for 35 years didn't waste a minute, timing their vows to be married seconds after it became legal in New York state at midnight.

CLAUDIA BRUCE, NEWLYWED: You go to the hospital here and there and there's the paper, you know. Single, married, divorced or widowed. And there's no place for anything else.

AXELROD: In New York City, 823 same-sex couples registered to marry today. David Hernandez and Nevin Cohn were among them.

DAVID HERNANDEZ, NEWLYWED: We’re so honored to be able to be part of all the couples, all the loving couples in New York, and have the same rights and promise.

AXELROD: But not when it comes to income taxes, inheriting a spouse's Social Security benefits and family medical leave because federal law does not recognize gay marriage.

BRAD SEARS, WILLIAMS INSTITUTE AT UCLA LAW SCHOOL: There's even one case with a spouse of a veteran who’s not entitled to be buried next to their spouse.

AXELROD: Brad Sears of the Williams Institute at UCLA Law School says gay couples cannot file a joint federal tax return.

SEARS: In some cases, same-sex couples are going to pay more federal taxes.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: I now pronounce you legally married.

AXELROD: And some companies are phasing out domestic partner benefits in states where gay marriage is legal, and requiring gay employees to be married to keep their health coverage.

HELEN DARLING, NATIONAL BUSINESS GROUP ON HEALTH: There's not really a change in philosophy that domestic partner benefit typically was put in to be fair because they didn't have the option of marriage.

AXELROD: In New York City today, protesters were scarce, but that shouldn't mislead anyone. Across the country gay marriage is still the exception, not the rule. Only six states and Washington, D.C., allow gay marriage, meaning 44 states do not.

BILL DONAHUE, CATHOLIC LEAGUE: We are very much opposed to the idea of gay marriage in any state.

AXELROD: Bill Donahue of the Catholic League says most of America agrees with him that marriage should be limited to a man and a woman.

DONAHUE: In 31 states in the United States, they've asked the people in a ballot initiative, do you believe in gay marriage? Our side, traditional marriage, has won 31 out of 31.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: This is my partner, my spouse now.

AXELROD: The next battlegrounds over gay marriage may well be Maryland and Rhode Island, but that's for another day because for hundreds of couples in New York-

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #3: We couldn't be happier.

AXELROD: -this day was for celebration. Jim Axelrod, CBS News, N ew York.