Introduction The Controversy “Same-sex marriage permits couples of the same gender to enter legally-recognized marriages and provides them with the same legal rights as couples in heterosexual relationships” (Same-Sex Marriage). “Opponents of same-sex marriage argue that the institution of marriage should apply to only unions between one man and one woman. Allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry, they say, undermines the institution of marriage” (Same-Sex Marriage). Where the Issue Stands Today “In America, six states plus D.
C. allow same-sex couples to marry, three more respect marriages of same-sex couples validly preformed in other states, eight provide civil unions or comprehensive domestic partnerships, and three more have limited domestic partnership systems. That’s twenty states plus D. C. that provide some significant state-level relationship protections, and those states are home to 130 million people” (LGBT Relationships). “ Unmarried couples who live together can now tell their Facebook friends they’re more than just “in a relationship”.
The social networking service added “in a civil union” and “in a domestic partnership” to possible relationship status options in its user’s profiles in Canada, the U. S. , the U. K. , France, and Australia (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation). Thesis: Same-sex couples deserve the same full marriage rights and benefits given to heterosexual couples; marriage is one of the basic civil rights and denying any American that right is unconstitutional. Issue 1: Legislative History First Push For Marriage Rights “In 1942 the U. S. Supreme Court ruled in Skinner v. Oklahoma that marriage is “one of the basic civil rights. Loving v. Virginia, decided by the Supreme Court in 1967, ended race discrimination in marriage and also affirmed: “The freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free me. ” These decisions paved the way for same-sex couples to demand equal marriage rights” (Same-Sex Marriage). “The tide began to turn in 1933, when 3 same sex couples in Hawaii sued the state for marriage licenses. The Hawaii Supreme Court ruled that the state was required to demonstrate sufficient reason for denying the licenses, or stop discriminating.
In the 1996 trial decision, Judge Kevin Chang ruled that there is no good reason to deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Despite this clear ruling to end discrimination in marriage, Hawaii amended its constitution to block same-sex marriages” (Same-Sex Marriage). “In 2001, the same year the Netherlands became the first country to to give same-sex couples full marriage rights, seven same-sex couples in Massachusetts who had been denied marriage licenses sued the state. Their case was bolstered by a U. S. Supreme Court decision in 2003, Lawrence v.
Texas, which struck down sodomy laws and stated that the “moral disapproval” of voters or government is not a valid basis for discrimination in marriage. In 2003 the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that the state constitution mandates equality in marriage for same-sex and heterosexual couples. Three months later the court specified that civil unions did not meet this requirement, and on May 17, 2004, Massachusetts became the first state to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples. ” (Same-Sex Marriage). Defense of Marriage Act The word marriage means only a legal union between 1 man and 1 woman as husband and wife” (United States Cong. ). “No State, territory, or possession of the United States, or including Indian tribe, shall be required to give effect to any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any other State, territory, possession, or tribe respecting a relationship between persons of the same sex that is treated as marriage under the laws of such other State, territory, possession, or tribe, or right or claim arising from such relationship” ((United States Cong. . “Obama said he would indeed work to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, calling it “discriminatory”” (Zeleny). Federal Marriage Amendment “Since 2002 opponents of same-sex marriage have worked to pass a Federal Marriage Amendment (FMA) to the U. S. Constitution. This amendment would define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. It has been introduced to the U. S. Congress in 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2008 but has failed to gain enough support to pass” (Same-Sex Marriage) Proposition 8 On June 16, 2008, California began allowing same-sex couples to receive marriage licenses. But on November 4 of that year, Proposition 8 passed, again banning same-sex marriage” (Same-Sex Marriage). “California’s Proposition 8, which sought to ban same-sex marriage, is an attempt to suppress personal rights and force religious beliefs and codes of behavior on everyone, including non-believers. Narrow-minded interpretations of faith often have led to self-righteousness and oppression of others, and they are again on the rise” (Stone). One might argue that Proposition 8 discriminates against gays and lesbians in violation of the Equal Protection Clause. One might argue that Proposition 8 unconstitutionally limits the fundamental right to marry. One might argue that Proposition 8 violates the separation of church and state” (Stone). Issue 2: Domestic Partnership and Civil Unions v. Marriage Difference in Rights “The right to marry is not just about the actual legal ceremony, but an equal right to the extensive list of legal protections awarded to married couples.
These benefits given to legally married couples range from tax relief to medical decision making. Civil unions and domestic partnerships may seem like equal unions, but the protections they give to registered couples is often far less than that of marriage” (Johnson). Specific Differences in Benefits: “Marriage: Over 1,049 federal and state level benefits, Civil Unions: Over 300 state level benefits” (Johnson) “Tax Relief. Marriage: Couples can file both federal and state tax returns jointly.
Civil Unions: Couples can only file jointly in the state of civil registration” (Johnson). “Medical Decisions. Marriage: Partners can make emergency medical decisions. Civil Unions: Partners can only make medical decisions in the registered state. Partners may not be able to make decisions out of state” (Johnson). “Death Benefits. Marriage: In the case of a partner’s death, the spouse receives any earned Social Security or veteran benefits. Civil Unions: Partners do not receive Social Security or any other government benefits in case of death” (Johnson). Child/Spousal Support. Marriage: In case of divorce, individuals may have a legally-binding financial obligation to spouses and children. Civil Unions: In the case of dissolution , no such spousal or child benefits are guaranteed or required out of state” (Johnson). “Immigration Rights. Marriage: U. S. citizens and legal residents can sponsor their spouses and family members for immigration. Civil Unions: U. S. citizens and legal residents cannot sponsor non-legal spouses or family members” (Johnson).
Public and Political Opinions “According to a Pew Research Center report in 2009, 53% of Americans oppose same-sex marriage, but 57% support civil unions for same sex couples” (Same-Sex Marriage). “ In 1996 when Obama was running for the Illinois Senate, Barack Obama stated, “ I favor legalized same-sex marriages, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages. ” But during his presidential campaign in 2008 Obama shifted his views, stating his support for civil unions” (Same-Sex Marriage). Political Action
June 17th 2009 “The package of domestic partnership benefits that President Obama established for federal workers on Wednesday drew the loudest protests from some of those it was intended to help, gay men and lesbians who criticized the move as too timid. The administrative memorandum extending some partnership rights to federal workers in same-sex relationships allows administration personnel to take leave to care for sick partners and requires the government to recognize their partners as household members when determining overseas housing allocations for State Department employees, among other things” (Zeleny).
But several of the nation’s most prominent gay and lesbian political leaders quickly attacked the president for failing to extend full health care benefits to the same-sex partners of federal workers, questioning the administration’s explanation that it is precluded from doing so by the Defense of Marriage Act, which Mr. Obama had vowed to repeal during his presidential campaign” (Zeleny). “”I think it’s insulting,” David Mixner, a prominent gay rights advocate, said of the new benefits plan. ‘Without minimizing how it will improve lives to some extent, what they said to us today is we will give you family leave, some things like that, but the most important thing, health care, we’re not giving you” (Zeleny). Issue 3: Race and Religion’s Influence African American Resistance “In our world there are divisions and even tensions among minority groups, and the quest to legalize same-sex marriage has met particular resistance from African-Americans. This isn’t a topic that advocates for gay rights or their many black supporters relish discussing, because it focuses on a wedge where they wish there was a tighter bond.
But polls indicate that support for same-sex marriage lags among black Americans” (Bruni). “In 2008 Californians passed Proposition 8, which prohibited state recognition of same-sex marriage, with a 52 percent majority. Voting analyses suggest that between 58 and 70 percent of black voters backed the prohibition” (Bruni). “Wade Henderson, the president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, noted the existence of phrases like ”gay is the new black” and said that attempts to equate the persecution of gay and black Americans can be ”deeply offensive. ”African-Americans were enslaved.
And during their brutal struggle for justice, they couldn’t make a secret of what set them apart from others, Henderson said during a phone interview Friday” (Bruni). “Two weeks ago the Human Rights Campaign inaugurated a new effort to move public opinion nationwide by unveiling a video testimonial, being distributed on the Internet for now, in which Cory Booker, the mayor of Newark, speaks up for same-sex marriage, not yet legal in New Jersey. In its infancy the H. R. C. effort, called Americans for Marriage Equality, has showcased three prominent black Americans in a row.
That’s no accident” (Bruni). Religious Reasons for Opposition “Much of the debate on same-sex marriage stems from religious teachings on marriage and on homosexuality. Islam, for example, officially prohibits same-sex marriage, whereas Reform Judaism has long permitted same-sex couples to celebrate their commitment. The Roman Catholic church opposes same-sex marriage, and American bishops, stating that “marriage is a faithful, exclusive and lifelong union between one man and one woman,” strongly support the FMA” (Same-Sex Marriage). The first is that the Church does not recognize an ontological distinction between a homosexual and a heterosexual, whereas modern society, in creating the concept of “sexual orientation,” insists there is such a distinction. If the Church rejects “orientation,” how does it deal with the fact that some men are sexually attracted to other men, but not to women? Isn’t it fundamentally discriminatory and unequal to allow heterosexuals a sexual outlet, but not homosexuals? The Church answers this very simply. Homosexual temptation, just like any other illicit sexual temptation, should not be acted upon. (Williams). “In the Church’s eyes, every act of sexual relations must [be] open to procreation. The Church believes human life is always a good thing, and that God wants people to “be fruitful and multiply. ” It also teaches that the procreative act is the way God brings life into the world—remembering that, according to Christianity, human life is more than just the physical body. According to the Church, a married couple participates in God’s creation of new life, but God himself is seen as the Creator of new life.
Shutting the sexual act off to procreation is literally shutting out God” (Williams). Why Basing Law on Religion is Unconstitutional “Proposition 8 was enacted by a vote of 52% to 48%. Those identifying themselves as Evangelicals, however, supported Proposition 8 by a margin of 81% to 19%, and those who say they attend church services weekly supported Proposition 8 by a vote of 84% to 16%. Non-Christians, by the way, opposed Proposition 8 by a margin 85% to 15% and those who do not attend church regularly opposed Proposition 8 by a vote of 83% to 17%.
What this tells us, quite strikingly, is that Proposition 8 was a highly successful effort of a particular religious group to conscript the power of the state to impose their religious beliefs on their fellow citizens, whether or not those citizens share those beliefs. This is a serious threat to a free society committed to the principle of separation of church and state” (Stone). “The Framers of the American Constitution knew that throughout human history religious self-righteousness has caused intolerance, discrimination and injustice.
It was for that reason that they embedded in our Constitution a fundamental commitment to the separation of church and state. The Framers were not anti-religion. They understood that religion could help to nurture the public morality necessary to a self-governing society. But religion was to be fundamentally private. It was for the individual. It was not to intrude unduly into the political sphere” (Stone). “While religious faiths differ in their definition of marriage, the government has an obligation not to engage in unconstitutional discrimination against gay and lesbian couples.
The concept of equal protection under the law, enshrined in the constitution, requires that fundamental rights like the right to marry be made available equally to same-sex couples” (LGBT Relationships). Issue 4: Common Misconceptions “Gay Marriage is Wrong Because the Bible Says So” A few months back I found myself debating a lady from the General Synod. The presence of a verse in the book of Leviticus was her justification for arguing against any rights for gays. ‘What about the imprecations against all sorts of dietary laws in the same book? ‘ I asked her. ‘What of the warning against the mixing of fabrics?
What about that verse in Exodus, “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live? “‘ ‘Well, I don’t know anything about that,’ she said”(Murray). “Gay Marriage is Wrong Because Same-Sex Couples Can’t Have Children” “The idea that marriage is solely for the procreation of children is equally dismissible. Plenty of straight couples, particularly older ones, do not marry to have children. ” (Murray). “There are many gay couples that are in committed and happy relationships. These relationships are often long lasting and sometimes involve adopted or naturally born children” (Johnson). Same-sex couples are raising hundreds of thousands of children in the United States. And, according to a long-term study, those kids are competent and well-adjusted. The study followed about 80 children conceived by lesbian moms using donor insemination in the mid 1980s. By the age of 17, the kids rated better in academic and social competence and had fewer behavior problems than a nationally representative sample” (Kids Thrive With Two Moms). “The LGBT Community is More Promiscuous” “Often, people associate gay men with sexual addiction. However, the majority of gay individuals are no more sexually active than heterosexuals.
Many gay men visit bars, clubs or the internet in an effort to find sexual partners, however just as many seek long term relationships in the same places “(Johnson). “An aspect of male ‘gay life’ some heterosexuals claim to have a problem with is the perceived promiscuity. Whether this is in reality any more distinctive than among straight people, gay marriage offers a remedy, giving gays, like straights, a public and private path towards commitment. At a time when many heterosexuals are spurning the idea of marriage, here is a section of society positively lobbying for the right to respect and continue the institution.
Perhaps gay marriage will encourage more straight people back on to the marital path? ” (Murray). “AIDS is a Gay Disease” “Many rumors about AIDS still linger from the 80’s. Those misconceptions were based on a lack of understanding and fear. Though the source of the deadly disease hasn’t been traced to it’s root, AIDS is not just a gay disease” (Johnson). Conclusion Restatement of Thesis: Denying equal marriage rights to same-sex couples is unconstitutional, and currant legislation that denies these rights should be removed. Why must things change now.
Not allowing same-sex marriage denying gay and lesbian couples there constitutional right to the pursuit of happiness. The basis for many arguments opposing gay marriage are on religious grounds, and it is unconstitutional to create laws based on a religious view not held by all American citizens. “Despite arguments that so called “same-sex marriage” seeks to redefine “traditional marriage”, allowing committed gay and lesbian couples to marry does not change the meaning of marriage. Gay and lesbian couples want to get married and make a lifetime commitment to the person they love and to protect their families” (LGBT Relationships).
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