“We are of the opinion that there should be one law for everyone. It is the only way in which we will truly recognize the equality of all people.” Dutch Reformed Church, mid-October 2006
America is known by other nations for two things: freedom and equality. Unfortunately, equality quite often goes overlooked in the arena of fair marriages. Legalization of gay marriage has been a debatable subject for quite some time. To this day, only Massachusetts is allowing an actual marriage between two people of the same sex. Other states allow a civil union between partners, which basically permits a homosexual couple to receive the same financial benefits as straight citizens, but it is still not legally considered a marriage. Considering the increasing number of gays and lesbians in the United States, they should be granted the same rights and privileges as their straight counterparts. Homosexuals should be allowed to marry because there aren’t any valid logical reasons against it.
One of the main arguments against homosexual marriage is based on religious beliefs. Most, if not all religions strictly prohibit the union of two people of the same sex. Separation of church and state has always ended up being a good thing, mainly because not everyone shares the same beliefs. Society in general usually thinks that whatever the majority of people believe equals the right decision. Hence, since most of the United States is comprised of Christians, the acceptance of homosexual marriage is looked down upon. Andrew Sullivan, a proponent of gay marriage, deals with the religious controversy by putting it into a relative context (Wilson, par. 11). He compares the “admonition” not to killing one’s mother or stealing bread, but to eating shellfish or being proud (Wilson, par. 11). Sullivan goes on to suggest that these injunctions were written on the same level and hence can either be accepted or ignored as a whole (Wilson, par. 11). Basically, Sullivan is stating that yes, even though gay marriage may be a sin, so are countless other things that people do everyday that aren’t outlawed. Also, on what level of sin is homosexuality, anyway? It’s not as damnable as killing a man, nor could it be compared to rape or thievery.
Another point as to why gay marriage should be legalized is because normal, opposite-sex marriage hasn’t been sacred for many years now. A lot of people are afraid that if gays are allowed to marry, then it will degrade the institution of marriage as a whole. Couples get divorced at alarming rates, mainly because they rush into relationships during the heat of passion and don’t stop to think about the ramifications that the commitment of marriage brings. While same-sex couples may make the same mistakes, at least they would value the fact that they had to fight for that right to be married to begin with. If people actually analyzed what God intends for us in marriage, they would find that they should spend less time asking “who can marry” and more time wondering “why we marry” (Warner, par. 6). Marriage does not exist only for companionship or procreation, but it is also a transformative experience for two individuals (Warner, par. 8). In marriage, God intends not only to alleviate human loneliness, but also to effect human salvation (Warner, par. 8). Marriage is more than a word, it is a journey with another person through this life with whom one’s soul intertwines. It is based on renunciation and reception: one says no to many possible partners in order to say yes to one (Warner, par. 9). Through this, two people may develop their relationship, not just between each other, but also with God.
A more shocking problem is that many of the people who oppose gay marriage aren’t even Christian. These people aren’t against same-sex marriage because of their religion, but they oppose it simply because they’re afraid that if they grant homosexuals the right to marry, then they are going to have to give other groups similar rights. These “other groups” include incestuous couples, polygamists, marriages between humans and animals, and marriages between minors and adults. The difference between these aforementioned situations and homosexual marriage is substantial. Incestuous marriages carry certain health risks (i.e. deformities in the baby, genetic problems), as do marriages between animals and humans. The trouble with minor and adult relationships is that minors don’t have the mental capacity to make the correct logical decision to marry or not. Animals and human relationships also carry these same problems of consent. If homosexual marriage is to be considered illegal, then many other heterosexual practices should also be outlawed, namely adultery, sodomy, premarital sex, and divorce (Wilson, par. 13). These infractions are just as bad, if not worse, than two men or two women in a partnership together. However, same-sex marriages, while not exactly beneficial to the role of procreation and the advancement of the world’s population, still equals two grown-ups making a choice to be together based on love.
One of the most interesting reasons as to why homosexual couples should be allowed to tie the knot is a little less obvious. Many times, when a straight husband and wife get pregnant, it is not always on purpose, and therefore the couple is not entirely prepared for the newborn. Gay partners, however, must always either adopt or, if desired by two lesbians, be artificially inseminated. This totally negates the accidental pregnancy factor and ensures that a married couple are ready for a child in their lives. The child’s quality of living is greatly increased, as he or she now has two parents that are emotionally and financially ready for him or her to be in their world. A side-effect benefit of the adoption process is that unwanted children left by straight couples can be taken care of by homosexual partners, thus decreasing the number of kids in orphanages. Marriage policy is a particularly important social and political issue because the health of marriage as a social institution has a disproportionately large effect on the well-being of children (Anderson, par. 19). Kids who grow up with unwed parents are missing out on the unity of the family as a whole, despite the parents living together. It is not a mentally healthy situation for children, but yet, homosexuals will continue to adopt.
A common myth is that two homosexual parents, whether they be two men or two women, will raise a child to also be homosexual. However, this is not true. For example, look at the current situation. Since gay marriage is illegal, and a very low percentage of children are being raised by gay parents, then technically speaking, there shouldn’t be any gay people at all. Do straight parents always raise straight children? The answer is no, and if they did, then there wouldn’t be any homosexuals. Therefore, parents do not determine the sexual preference of their child. If anything, two same-sex parents raising offspring would only help that child be more open-minded towards the acceptance of other people’s cultures and beliefs, as well as less susceptible to prejudice. Surely, this could definitely not be a bad thing in a country that has historically made so many wrong discriminatory decisions, such as slavery, internment camps, and the oppression of women, based on injustice and bigotry.
The only slightly valid argument that holds any water against homosexual marriage is the economic factor. Tax breaks and financial aid are distributed by the state to married straight couples as incentive to help procreation and donate towards the continuation of the population. Health care is also another big benefit that homosexuals are not being allowed to collect through a marriage. Despite this, many gay couples are in surprisingly good condition. During a recent National Health Interview Survey between 1997 and 2003, roughly half of all homosexual couples had never smoked cigarettes and more than two-thirds considered themselves to be in excellent or very good health (Hollander, par. 3). Furthermore, since gay couples cannot naturally have children, it is widely thought that the money and distributed aid for gay families would be going to waste. Unfortunately for the gay marriage opponents, this case has big enough holes in it to float an oil tanker through. For starters, gay couples are just as capable of having children, the only difference is that they will be adopting (or artificially inseminating). As stated previously, this will help out the economy by taking more children out of state and federally funded orphanages and into homes. Secondly, if homosexuals marry without procreation, they are no different from a sterile man or woman who marries without hope of reproduction (Wilson, par. 17). Infertile straight couples should not be allowed to marry if this is the only actual argument one can come to the table with combating gay marriage.
Religious beliefs remain to be one of the most potent arguments against homosexual marriage, but yet many other factors threaten the gay marriage proposition. For example, one editor from The Wilson Quarterly writes that the inability of married homosexuals to bear children will result in promiscuity (“Here”, par. 1). The writer goes on to state that this situation will contribute to an already problematic divorce rate in America (“Here”, par. 1). However, as any logical person can attest, marriage goes far beyond sexual gratification and reproduction. As the editors from the Economist point out, “Homosexuals need emotional and economic stability no less than heterosexuals and society benefits when they have these things (“Here”, par. 5). Gay couples want to marry more for the emotional support that is brought about by such a commitment.
A person, heterosexual or homosexual, feels much more secure when he or she is in a dedicated relationship. Ellen Haller, MD, an adjunct professor of psychiatry at the University of California at San Francisco, writes:
“Being treated as a second-class citizen conveys the message that one is less worthy than others. Lack of civil rights can degrade a person’s self-esteem and can ultimately lead to a sense of negative self-worth, and possibly depression and substance abuse (Kaplan, par. 7).”
From a mental health perspective, denying gays the right to marry is devastating to their well-being, both mentally and then physically. A person needs the support of another human being in his or her life, and if that person is attracted only to the same-sex, then that is where he or she is going to look for said-support. Another homosexual advocate, Robert Kertzner, MD, writes:
“Because they are not allowed to marry, same-sex couples often experience commitment ambiguity marked by uncertainty about the extent of mutual obligations in the relationship; uncertainty about the recognition of the partnership by family, friends, and others; and uncertainty about when the relationship is over. That ambiguity serves to support stereotypes that lesbians and gay men are incapable of staying together and are therefore unworthy of being married and should be denied marriage (Kaplan, par. 15.).”
Not being allowed to marry one another puts homosexuals in a destructive pattern of relationships since nothing can be solidified by the law. Kertzner continues:
“In most societies, marriage is considered the key to being regarded as a full adult. By being denied the opportunities of marriage, lesbians and gay men are also denied the opportunity to be seen as full citizens and full adults participating in society (Kaplan, par. 23).”
This is one of the key factors in the argument to legalize gay marriage. Not only are there economic benefits to being married, but there is also the social standpoint where gays and lesbians want to be seen as equal members of humanity.
Perhaps the most evident reason the majority of people object to gay marriage is also the reason that nobody really wants to admit. Simply put, a lot of society is still completely and utterly disgusted by homosexuals. It is not the norm, therefore it is shunned. People think that it’s gross and pretend to ignore it, the same way that the ugly quiet kid is outcast during 2nd grade recess. Eventually, gay marriage will be completely legalized across the board and most people will evolve into accepting the concept. Once this day comes, most of the citizens that once heralded against same-sex marriage are going to look similar to the people who were against freeing slaves back in the late 19th century. Once again, just like in the era of allowing African Americans to be treated as equals, the most Northern states are more open to the possibility of allowing same-sex marriages, even if the laws are not yet in place. Interracial marriage was also once seen by the Bible as being a sin, and now it’s commonplace, if not expected. In fact, as Sullivan points out, society has tolerated the brutalization inflicted on people based on the color of their skin, but no laws have ever stopped them from marrying (Wilson, par. 26). On the other hand, homosexuals have been given equal opportunities in life, but yet they legally remain unable to marry each other (Wilson, par. 26).
As of this writing, only one state, Massachusetts, actually allows homosexual marriage. Thirty-seven states have a law in place called the D.O.M.A. (Defense of Marriage Act), which holds the traditional values of marriage in place. The D.O.M.A. explicitly prohibits two people of any sex other than man and woman to marry. Recently, New Jersey’s highest court ruled that gay couples are entitled to the same legal rights and financial benefits as heterosexual couples, but ordered the Legislature to decide whether their unions must be called marriage or could be known by another name (Chen, Healy, Kocieniewski, and Mansnerus, par. 1). Even though this is not exactly a marriage, it is still progress for the homosexual community. Additional benefits provided to a civil union include tuition assistance, survivors’ benefits under workers’ compensation laws, and spousal privilege in criminal trials (Chen, Healy, Kocieniewski, and Mansnerus, par. 2). These rewards are long over-due for gay couples in New Jersey. Hopefully, other forward-thinking states will adopt these same principals. Many people believe that states should be free to set their own marriage policies, or that no amendment is necessary, or that the Constitution should not concern itself with marriage policy (“A Vote”, par. 3). A universal federal policy allowing gays and lesbians to marry would be too huge a victory for the nay-sayers to ever allow, hence the reason why they prefer singular state authorization or denial.
No harm is being done to society by allowing gays to marry. Nathaniel Persily, who teaches law and political science at the University of Pennsylvania, writes, “A majority of Americans are in favor of equal rights for gays tantamount to marriage, but a majority is also calling that relationship marriage (Chen, Healy, Kocieniewski, and Mansnerus, par. 12).” Why shouldn’t gays and lesbians be allowed to call their relationships marriage and have it deemed so by the courts? Homosexuals with children are not raising them to be mentally damaged or physically abused. Acceptance is paramount; it’s a part of an evolving communal process that will further the advancement of civilization. For society, the real choice is between homosexual marriage and homosexual alienation. No social interest is served by choosing the latter (“Here”, par. 5). Homosexual couples will inevitably become our neighbors; why not embrace them now?
Anderson, Ryan T. “Beyond Gay Marriage.” The Daily Standard 15 Aug. 2006: 1-. LexisNexis. Reed Elsevier Inc., Bankier Library, Brookdale Community College, Lincroft, NJ. 7 November 2006
Chen, David W., Patrick Healy, David Kocieniewski, and Laura Mansnerus. “New Jersey court backs full rights for gay couples.” New York Times 26 Oct. 2006: 1-. LexisNexis. Reed Elsevier Inc., Bankier Library, Brookdale Community College, Lincroft, NJ. 7 November 2006
“Here comes the groom: marriage contracts for homosexuals.” The Wilson Quarterly 20.3 (Summer 1996): 122-123. Academic ASAP. Thomson Gale., Bankier Library, Brookdale Community College, Lincroft, NJ. 7 November 2006
Hollander, D. “Women, but not men, living with a same-sex partner are disadvantaged with regard to health care access.” Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health 38.3 (Sept. 2006): 169-171. Academic ASAP. Thomson Gale., Bankier Library, Brookdale Community College, Lincroft, NJ. 7 November 2006
Kaplan, Arline. “Same-sex Marriage: Mental Health Perspectives.” Psychiatric Times 1 Aug. 2006: 1-. LexisNexis. Reed Elsevier Inc., Bankier Library, Brookdale Community College, Lincroft, NJ. 7 November 2006
“A Vote for Marriage.” National Review 7 June 2006: 1-. LexisNexis. Reed Elsevier Inc., Bankier Library, Brookdale Community College, Lincroft, NJ. 7 November 2006
Warner, Andrew. “Living by the word: couples (Same-sex marriage).” The Christian Century 123.20 (3 Oct. 2006): 18-. Academic ASAP. Thomson Gale., Bankier Library, Brookdale Community College, Lincroft, NJ. 7 November 2006
Wilson, James Q. “Against homosexual marriage.” Commentary 101.3 (March 1996): 34-36. Academic ASAP. Thomson Gale., Bankier Library, Brookdale Community College, Lincroft, NJ. 7 November 2006