Should gay marriages be legal? Clearly we as a nation are undecided on this issue.
36 states have passed legislation banning gay marriages, yet the state of Vermont recently
passed a law that allows homosexual couples the right to participate in civil unions. Some
other states are also debating whether or not to allow these couples to marry.
Unfortunately, the dispute has left the United States homosexual community in an
awkward position. There are some people who think that gay people have no rights and
should never be allowed to marry. Other people believe that gay people are just like
anyone else and should enjoy the same rights and privileges as heterosexuals do. I think
that the United States should allow these couples to marry just like any other couple.
There are many opponents of gay people as it is, and they all have their reasons to
dislike the idea of letting them get married. One of the main reasons is that the primary
purpose of marriage is procreation. Because gay couples are unable to have children, they should not be allowed to marry (Schiffen 495). Another main argument is that the word marriage means the union of one man and one woman. This is a long-standing theme of most major Western religions. Under a proposed bill known as the Defense of Marriage act, marriage is defined as “a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife.” Furthermore, it defines a spouse as ” a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or wife” (What 1). Under these guidelines, it is quite obvious that gay couples would not be eligible for marriage. People against homosexual marriage also say that it is
a person’s choice to be gay. Since the individual chooses to be a homosexual, they should
not be given special privileges. Another argument that you hear is that these couples
should not get married simply because of the torment and ridicule they would be faced
with in their everyday lives. There are news reports from across America telling about
how a gay person was beaten or killed just because they were looked at as different.
Some of these people would end up the target of verbal abuse and maybe even physical
abuse, just because some heterosexual people see them as different.
There are also some very silly arguments that should be discarded immediately.
One of these arguments is that marriage is traditionally a heterosexual institution. Making love to another man takes away everything that is masculine about you also is said to be a reason against homosexual people. Another argument that is not very valid is that same sex marriage would start us down a “slippery slope” towards legalized incest, bestial marriage, polygamy and all other kinds of horrible consequences (Bidstrup 2-3). These arguments are absurd to even consider as legitimate arguments from intelligent people.
According to the United States Constitution, every individual has the right to the
pursuit of happiness, and the Supreme Court has stated that marriage is essential to the
orderly pursuit of happiness (Stoddard 492). The federal government’s statement clearly
contradict that state laws that are now in effect. You hear the saying, “America is the
home of land, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Along with the pursuit of happiness
being infringed on, the individual’s liberty is also somewhat taken away. Many people
come to America because it’s the “Home of the Free.” This is a freedom that is being
taken away from these couples. If America were a truly free country, these couples would
be allowed to marry without any complications.
It is obvious that homosexuals are not being treated fairly. By prohibiting gay
marriages, homosexuals are put at economic, legal, and personal disadvantages. In fact,
gay rights activists have cited over 300 benefits that gay couples are not permitted to
enjoy (The Case 1). This is a large amount of rights that are being taken away from these
homosexual couples. Consider these three examples of how the civil rights of
homosexuals are violated.
First, homosexuals and their spouses are denied the right to claim the estate of
their spouses if there is no will present when one of the partners dies. In heterosexual
marriages, spouses are entitled to at least a portion of the spouse’s estate unless the
spouse’s will explicitly states otherwise. This is not necessarily the rule for people who
are “together,” but not legally married. Since homosexual couples are not allowed to
marry, the spouse is not guaranteed the benefit of access to the state.
Second, gays are excluded from group insurance and pension plans offered
through their spouse’s jobs. Because gay marriages are not considered legal, they are not
officially recognized by insurance companies. Despite the fact that a gay man may do
exactly the same job as a heterosexual man, the heterosexual man and his wife would
enjoy benefits not available to the homosexual couple.
Third, gays do not enjoy the judicial spousal privilege concerning legal matters. In
legal proceedings, a man cannot be compelled by the government to say anything that may
incriminate his wife. Since homosexual couples are not officially married, the spousal
privilege does not protect them.
In a landmark case for gay marriages, three gay couples filed a suit against the
state of Vermont in 1997. They claimed that their Constitutional rights were being denied
to them because the state refused to grant them marriage licenses. The state court ruled
against the plaintiffs, citing the link between procreation and marriage. Furthermore, the
state claimed that homosexuals did not qualify as a special class because homosexuality “is
not a readily discernible race (Vermont 1).”
This verdict did not sit well with the plaintiffs and the rest of the gay community.
They felt that their rights were being infringed on and that the verdict was not fair. The
plaintiffs appealed the case, and the Vermont Supreme Court heard it. On December 20,
1999, the state Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional to deny marriage licenses
to homosexuals (Victory 1). In response to the ruling, the Vermont state government
enacted a law permitting civil unions of gay couples to be performed.
Civil unions give exactly the same privileges to homosexual couples as are
afforded their heterosexual counterparts. Homosexual citizens in the state of Vermont are
now permitted to join in civil unions if they choose to do so. These couples were then
given the same rights as their heterosexual counterparts. Gay couples from other states are
also permitted to have their civil unions performed in Vermont. The problems with these
couples is that they will not have the same rights in another state as they do in Vermont.
These couples will also be looked at differently in other states, whereas if they remained in
Vermont, things might be easier for them.
Other states have recently faced problems with bills involving gay marriage.
Hawaii has recently passed a law banning gay marriages. The court came to an almost
unanimous decision on November 4, 1998. This decision ended a dispute in Hawaii from
the homosexual community that has been ongoing for the past 15 years (Paul 1).
California was in the process of having a “Process of Marriage” initiative for their 2000
election. If this bill were approved, the measure would clarify that only male-female
marriage is valid in California (Paul 3). New York has also recently passed a bill banning
homosexual civil unions. These types of bills are unconstitutional by definition, yet our
government keeps allowing states to pass them.
It is unclear how other states will treat civil unions in the future. Gay rights
activist Beatrice Dohrn said, “We hope many states will follow Vermont’s lead by
recognizing these civil unions and establishing their own civil union laws. Even the more
than 30 states which have discriminatory marriage laws are not exempt from recognizing
either the civil unions or the spouse’s familiar relationships” (Vermont Civil Unions 2).
Ms. Dohrn is referring to the U. S. Constitution’s full faith and credit clause that requires
states to honor the laws of other states. Legal scholars predict that due to the passing of
the civil unions law in Vermont, eventually all states will have to recognize civil unions,
although it may be years from now due to the appeal process of our government (Same
Marriage is first and foremost a union between two people who love each other.
Raising children is not necessarily a stipulation of marriage. Although many couples do
marry with the intent to start a family, it is obvious that rearing children is not a priority
for some couples. Examples of this type of family would include those who marry at an
elderly age. Couples who are sexually infertile can also be included in this group. The
argument that gay marriages should be illegal because they do not contribute to the
procreation of the species is invalid because we permit the elderly and the sexually infertile
to marry knowing that they will not be able to produce children. Today’s society would
be seriously outraged if marriages between these people were outlawed. How can we
apply the procreation issue as an argument against gay marriages and then completely
ignore it for non-childbearing heterosexual marriages?
These homosexual couples could also adopt a child since they could not produce
one. Just because it is not their own child does not mean that they cannot have a happy,
loving family. Allowing these homosexual couples to marry and adopt would assist in
reducing the number of children who don’t have parents. It would also give these children
a better chance to make something of themselves having parents and being out in the
world instead of being raised in a orphanage. Some people would say that these children
would have a very hard time being raised by two homosexual parents. It is better for these
children to have homosexual parents than no parents to take care of them at all.
The argument that homosexual people should not be allowed because it is their
choice to be gay is another argument you hear. Whether they choose to be gay or not, this
does not give state government the right to prevent these people from getting married.
People make different choices every day that maybe some groups of individuals would find
wrong or offensive, yet these choices are not seen as sinful as being a homosexual.
Many people would also have religious problems with having homosexual couples
join in a civil union. Traditional religious views in the United States, such as those held by
the Roman Catholics and Protestants, view homosexuality as immoral and sinful.
However, one of the foundations of our legal system is the separation of church and state.
In a country as culturally diverse as the United States, it is impossible to please every
religion. This is the reason why we make the distinction between church and state. Just
as different religions have different views on issues such as abortion, different religions
have different views concerning homosexual marriage. For example, gay marriages have
been accepted for years in the Buddhist community (Bidstrup 5). This is one of the oldest
religions, yet marriage between homosexual people is accepted.
As seen in the Hawaii case, the debate over gay marriage has been disputed for
years. Vermont has been the only state to permit these people to marry in their state.
When foreigners come to America, many times they come under the belief that they have
the choice to be whatever they want to be. This holds true for any different race who
comes here. Unfortunately, America is not yet truly free, not until we as a nation
recognize the homosexual community and begin to take them seriously. The reasoning
against gay marriages does not make sense. Legalizing gay marriages is the only logical
choice when considering this issue. Homosexuals have nontraditional partners, but that
does not mean that they love one another any less than heterosexual couples do.