Should Same-Sex Marriages be Legalized?
Overview/BackgroundTraditionally in this country, marriage has been defined as a religious & legal commitment between a man and woman, as well as the ultimate expression of love. Homosexual relationships are increasingly gaining acceptance in this country; however, these couples have not been permitted to marry. Some states have considered a new form of commitment called a "civil union", which essentially is marriage without using the word "marriage". Many politicians have said they are against gay marriage but think it should be left up to the states to decide. However, the "full faith and credit" clause of the Constitution says that if one state makes a law, other states must recognize it. Thus, if one state allows a gay marriage and that couple moves to another state, the other state must recognize that marriage. This in effect allows one state to make same-sex marriage legal in the entire country. Many politicians are calling for amendments to their state constitution or the U.S. Constitution. Many areas of the country such as San Francisco have performed marriage ceremonies in defiance of the law. Lost in all the legal battles and political maneuvering is the basic question "Should we allow gay couples to legally marry?"
- Denying them is a violation of religious freedom (civil and religious marriages are two separate institutions). The main reason for denying marriage to gay couples is that all major religions consider homosexuality a sin; however, the First Amendment of the Constitution clearly states that a person's religious views or lack thereof must be protected. Marriage by the state is a secular activity; the government cannot start making laws just because a religion says they should. What's next, should we make taking the Lord's name in vain a criminal activity because Christians consider it a breaking of a commandment?
- Marriage benefits (such as joint ownership, medical decision-making capacity) should be available to all couples. Marriage is more than a legal status. It affects many things in society such as tax filing status, joint ownership of property, insurance benefits, and agency law. It affects critical medical decisions. For example, if one member of a gay couple that has been together for 20 years gets critically ill, visitation may not even be allowed since the other isn't considered a "spouse or immediate family member". Also, critical medical decisions must often be made when one person is incapacitated; e.g. should a certain surgery be done or not? It is completely unfair to deny these privileges to people because their relationship doesn't fit the state's definition of one.
- Homosexuality is an accepted lifestyle nowadays with most evidence strongly supporting biological causation. For too long homosexuality has been considered a form of "deviant sexual behavior". Those making these accusations should examine the history books and the psychological research. Throughout our history going all the way back to ancient Greece, homosexual relationships have existed. The term "lesbian" comes from a Greek island called "Lesbos" where many such couples lived. An overwhelming amount of research has been done showing that homosexuality has a biological causation; not a genetic one, but a biological one. The easiest way to think of it is as a hormonal switch that gets thrown one way or the other. And if you think about it, it makes logical sense. Consider many gays and lesbians you've seen. Not always, but most times, some secondary sexual characteristics resemble the opposite sex. In other words, homosexual males often have softer voices. Lesbians may have strong cheekbones and a more masculine body shape. It's all affected by those hormone switches. And why would someone choose to be gay. Do people analyze the situation..."Let's see, I can be discriminated against, ridiculed by friends and co-workers, rejected by my family, told I'm going to hell by the church, subjected to beatings by gay bashers...hmmm, sign me up!" Now, there will be odd cases where people experiment with different types of sex, but you can't just teach people to be gay or not gay for a lifetime.
- Denying these marriages is a form of minority discrimination. America was founded on the concept that the majority should rule, but the rights of minorities should be protected. It is the main reason we have a Bill of Rights as well as anti-slavery and equal protection amendments. Denying marriage to a homosexual couple is no different than denying marriage to Hispanic or black couples.
- It doesn't hurt society or anyone in particular. A marriage is a relationship between two people. How does it hurt society or people not involved in the marriage? It is a personal commitment that really is no one else's business. Society shouldn't be dictating what two people can or can't do when no one else is hurt in the process. If the church or certain groups disapprove, that's their right, but it isn't their right to stop it.
- The only thing that should matter in marriage is love. The number one reason that heterosexuals marry is not to establish legal status, allow joint filing of taxes, or protect each other in medical decision-making. They marry because it is the ultimate expression of a person's love for another. Marriage is a commitment that says "I love you so much that I want to live the rest of my life with you. I want to share the ups and downs, forsake all others, and be together until death do us part." Should it matter that the couple doesn't fit into what society is used to? Some people talk about living wills and other legal contracts that can give homosexuals essentially the same rights as a married couple. If that is the case, why don't all heterosexual couples use these legal maneuvers instead of marriage? Just maybe there's something more to it.
- The number of child adoptions should increase since gay couples cannot pro-create (although some might see an increase in gay adoptions as an argument against same-sex marriages). Like any heterosexual couple relationship, a same-sex marriage may fuel the desire for a family. Since gay couples cannot have kids naturally, this will likely increase the desire to adopt. Since there are so many kids around the country in need of adoption, this is a good thing. However, others believe a child reared in a same-sex marriage do not develop ideally. Evidence at this point is inconclusive since same-sex adoptions have yet to become widespread.
- It encourages people to have strong family values and give up high-risk sexual lifestyles. One of the main arguments against gay marriage is that it would further erode family values; however, the opposite is true. The problems related to sexuality in our society such as STD's stem from carefree, frivolous lifestyles; in other words, having frequent, unprotected sex with many partners. Marriage encourages people to settle down and to give up that type of lifestyle. Married people commit themselves to one partner and work to build a life together. Isn't that the type of behavior we want to encourage?
- The same financial benefits that apply to man-woman marriages apply to same-sex marriages. In today's economic environment, it often takes two incomes to live. A married couple shares rent, utilities, and other bills, which are often difficult for one person to take on alone. This is especially truly if a dependent person is involved such as a child. In addition, a married couple can often financially support each other when times get tough, such as when one of the two is out of work. The other can continue to pay the bills until the unemployed person gets back on his/her feet. Owning a house is often impossible without another person to share the financial burden, and owning a home is not only part of the American dream, it promotes stability and community pride.
- Most religions consider homosexuality a sin. Virtually every religion in the world, including the major ones in this country, consider homosexuality unacceptable. It is offensive and a swipe to the religious freedom of the majority to have to recognize a relationship they consider sinful. The legal system in the United States evolved out of the laws contained in the Bible. We shouldn't go even farther to tear down those laws.
- It would weaken the definition and respect for the institution of marriage. The 50 percent divorce rate has already weakened the definition of marriage. We shouldn't be taking further steps to define what marriage is. A law allowing gay marriage would increase the number of joke or non-serious marriages, such as a couple of friends who want to save on taxes. Marriage is the most sacred institution in this country, and every society considers it the joining of a man and a woman. It makes biological sense since only a man and woman can pro-create.
- It would further weaken the traditional family values essential to our society. The building blocks of our society and the thing that makes it strong is the traditional family of man, woman, and children. It is what has sustained us through two world wars, terrorist attacks, a Great Depression, and numerous other challenges over the centuries. While friends & lovers come and go, your family is always there. The main reason our culture and values have started to crumble is the weakening of families. Introducing another form of "family" would only make the situation worse.
- It could provide a slippery slope in the legality of marriage (e.g. having multiple wives or marrying an animal could be next). Gay rights activists claim that these marriages should be allowed because it doesn't hurt anyone, but it could start a chain reaction that destroys the whole idea of marriage. If someone wants to marry his dog, why shouldn't he be able to? What if someone wants to marry their brother or parent? What if someone wants to marry their blow-up doll or have 10 wives? Unless we develop some firm definition of what a marriage is, the options are endless. If these options sound absurd, remember that all it takes is a few activist judges to use the statute to open the door. It doesn't matter if 95 percent of the population disagrees with the policy, one judge can interpret the case the way he or she wants and use the doctrine of stare decisis to impose a law on everyone. Do you remember how two judges in California recently declared the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional? If the decision hadn't been overturned, it would have prevented millions of children from being able to say the pledge every morning, despite the fact that 95+ percent of Americans disagreed with the decision.
- It confuses children about gender roles and expectations of society, and only a man & woman can pro-create. Children learn about expectations and gender roles from society. It's difficult to teach the importance and traditions of the family when such confusion is thrust upon them. Only a man and woman can bear children, and for thousands of years, a man & woman headed household has carried generations of people through life.
- The gay lifestyle is not something to be encouraged, as a lot of research shows it leads to a much lower life expectancy, psychological disorders, and other problems. Studies show that homosexuals, for a variety of reasons, have life expectancies of approximately
Related LinksReader Comments
A Compromise Solution to the Gay Marriage Debate
Focus on Social Issues: Is Marriage in Jeopardy?
Homosexual Marriages: All Sides of the Issue
The Heterosexual Agenda
The Institution Formerly Known as Marriage
Same-Sex Marriage Analysis
Gay Marriage vs. American Marriage
ReasonOnline.com Discussion of Same-Sex Marriage
Equal Marriage for Same-Sex Couples
Written by: Joe Messerli
Page Last Updated: 11/19/2011