Wells Fargo recently surveyed LGBT investors and found stark contrasts between Americans' overall attitudes about marriage and LGBT respondents' views.
According to the San Francisco Business Times, the survey "found that 80 percent of Americans overall consider love and commitment to be the most important reasons to get married, whereas just 54 percent of LGBT respondents said that those are the most important reasons to marry" [emphasis added].
Sixty-one percent of the LGBT respondents said the ability to make healthcare decisions for one's partner is the most important right or benefit of marriage. Fifty-eight percent of LGBT respondents said insurance and healthcare coverage was the most important and 56 percent said inheritance rights were the most important.
Interestingly, however, many states already have laws allowing same-sex couples to make healthcare decisions for each other; and in any case, this concern and others like it can be resolved through specific policies without redefining marriage.
It's also worth noting that federal regulations require hospitals participating in the Medicare and Medicaid programs to adopt written policies and procedures regarding patients’ visitation rights that allow hospital visitation for same-sex couples. In short, it is not necessary for marriage to be redefined in order to allow same-sex couples to visit each other in the hospital or make healthcare decisions for each other. As Ryan Anderson has pointed out, single people need to be visited in the hospital, too:
Every individual has those concerns. I am not married. When I get sick, I need somebody to visit me in the hospital. When I die, I need someone to inherit my wealth. That situation is not unique to a same-sex couple. That is a situation that matters for all of us. So we need not redefine marriage to craft policy that will serve all citizens.
Specific policy changes can be made on matters like hospital visitation without redefining the institution of marriage. Marriage isn't simply an institution that exists to grant any two people who care about each other the right to visit each other in the hospital; it's an institution that connects children with their biological parents and ensures that they have the chance to grow up benefitting from the unique contributions of both a mother and a father. Marriage is an institution that reflects the complementary of the sexes and comprehensively unites husband and wife.
It is imprudent and unnecessary to redefine marriage simply to address matters like hospital visitation policies.