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Unmarried couples taking gay marriage rulings a step further

A Seattle organization wants to take Wednesday’s Supreme Court rulings on gay marriage one step further.

Cindy Butler, the executive director of Unmarried Equality, wants to end the assignment of benefits and privileges based on marital status.

“We want people to stop thinking that a legal marriage is the only legitimate outcome for a committed relationship,” she said. “The ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act is starting to redefine what a spouse is.”

Butler’s group claims that 47 percent of Americans are unmarried, as of the 2010 census.

“That’s 112 million people, so we could be equal at this point. It’s definitely growing as a trend and it won’t stop,” said Butler.

While unmarried partners don’t have the same rights as married couples, Butler said the rulings move the national conversation in the right direction. She hopes employers begin granting benefits to unmarried couples.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court justices struck down a key provision of the federal law defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

The Defense of Marriage Act was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996. Gay rights activists had argued that the law improperly denied same-sex spouses the federal benefits that heterosexual couples are granted.

The court struck down a provision of a federal law that denied federal benefits to married gay couples.

The high court also overturned a California proposition that banned same-sex marriage. It allows the marriages to resume there but doesn’t affect other states.

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