Gay Marriage Essay, Research Paper
Marriage: Who Deserves It?
You have fallen head over heels in love with your partner and you can not, imagine not being with him or her for the rest of your life so the two of you decide to take it to the next step. You join together in front of your family and friends and state your love for each other and then the two of you are joined together as one in holy marriage. Once your ceremony is over, you are able to enjoy life as all other married couples do and share medical benefits from work and know that each of you are able to make important decisions for and about each other. Although all of this sounds simple, it is another story when you and your partner happen to be of the same sex. Because of one s preference to be with someone of the same-sex, one is denied the privileges and the act of marriage.
Legalizing gay marriage is the long-overdue correction; failure to do so dehumanizes and excludes a significant portion of the human race ( Separate ). When someone says the word marriage most people imagine a man and a woman being joined together not two of the same sex. James Wilson, gay activist, states that the social stigmata attached to homosexuality is different from that attached to any other race or ethnicity because it attacks the very heart of what makes a human being human: the ability to love and be loved (34). Homosexuals do not choose their condition; indeed, they often try desperately hard to avoid it ( Let ). And just as anyone else they need
emotional and economic stability no less than heterosexuals ( Let ). But to grant homosexuals all of the substances of marriage and then deny them the rights is just not moral ( Separate ). James Wilson points out that taking away these rights just because of one s sexual preference shows that the modern society resists homosexual marriages entirely out of irrational prejudice (34).
Sharon Driedger comments that gays and lesbians as a group are still among the most despised minorities (43). The only way to get around this is by hiding your sexuality, and for some that is hard because their sexuality helps them express who they are and to be asked to suppress it is hard. So many homosexuals face the consequences about being out of the closet. James Wilson revealed that if homosexuals were open about their sexuality they would be denied two things: joining the military as an avowed homosexual and marriage another homosexual (34). But from Joe Roaly s libertarian view the terms of a marriage contract should be the partners business, not the states ( Let ). But Eric Stoltz points out that fifty women can vie on national television to marry a man they ve never met for his money but if two people of the same sex want to establish rights of inheritance or become legally empowered to make healthcare decisions for one another, we are told that the entire structure of Western Civilization will come to an end (31).
Many people state that the purpose of marriage is to procreate and that is why they are against gay marriage, although James Wilson points out that if homosexual
couples marry without procreation, they are no different from a sterile man or woman who marries without the hope of procreation (34). And to deny a marriage license to two
people of the same sex are no different from denying a marriage license to two people of different sexes (Wilson 34). Society tries to back up their opinion by saying a gay couple may live like they are married but not receive any of the benefits that married people do. The Supreme Court has found it discriminatory to deny a married couple their benefits such as tax breaks, inheritance rights, and health insurance although they do not grant any of theses privileges to gay couples ( States ).
In the Roman Catholic Church marriage between two heterosexuals is upheld as a revered union between two people. Although Andrew Sullivan, editor of the New Republic, notes that the Catholic church has deepened its understanding of the involuntary that is, in some sense genetic basis of homosexuality, the church has attempted to keep homosexuals involved within the church as objects of affection and nurture, while banning homosexual acts as perverse (Wilson 34). And Chuck Colbert, who serves on the board of the Lesbian and Gay Journalist Association, suggest that Catholics in California have the chance to send their bishop a clear message by voting on the Knight Initiative which will no longer tolerate or finance this less than charitable downright unjust attack on gays and lesbians (19). Sharon Doyle, Maclean s/CBC
pollster, writes that when the general public was surveyed forty-six percent say they personally believe homosexuality is a sin, which is something ungodly (43). And Mubarak Dahir, director of training for the national Gay and Lesbian Task Force, feels that this is a danger to homosexuals, because assorted anti-gay groups will organize a concerted national effort to go back to states that already ban gays and lesbians from getting married and start passing even more restrictive laws that would deny homosexual s domestic partner benefits and recognition of civil unions (17).
As civil marriage is currently conceived and practiced in America, it contains no requirements and holds out no aspirations that homosexuals cannot achieve as easily as heterosexuals ( Separate ). Supporters of equal marriage rights will accept a somatic compromise that would grant homosexuals every benefit and responsibility of civil marriage but deny them the word of marriage ( Separate ). Although a state still passes laws to deny couples the right of marriage. Chuck Colbert defines Proposition 22, which reads: Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized (19). This would forbid states from recognizing same-sex unions performed in other states if the states decide to adopt the law ( States ).
Mubarak Dahir reveals that in Nebraska, voters approved by seventy percent an initiative to amend the state s constitution so that it bars marriage between gays and lesbians, leaving no doubt where the good citizens of Nebraska stand on equal rights for
homosexuals. Dahir explains that as well as reserving the institution of marriage for one man and one woman which is what most of the anti-gay marriage laws do the Nebraska amendment goes further. Dahir reports it continues by saying that the uniting
of two persons of the same sex in a domestic partnership, civil union or any kind of relationship in null and void in Nebraska (17).
The Defense of Marriage Act specifies that no state need recognize a same-sex marriage legally conducted in another state (Idelson 1393). It would also prohibit the federal government from giving legal standing to gay unions for any aspect of federal law
such as spousal benefits under federal aid programs or the federal tax code (Idelson 1393). This bill was passed by the U.S. Congress and signed by President Clinton (Dahir 17). James Wilson uncovers a Colorado statue that would prohibit giving to homosexuals any claim of minority status, quota preferences, protected status, or claim of discrimination (34). And the majority of states do not bar antigay discrimination, and federal law does not ban employers from firing workers or landlords from refusing to rent to people because they are gay ( Gay 201). Mubarak Dahir reports that as of December of 2000 at least thirty-three states have some form of prohibition on gays and lesbians getting married (17).
Schuster Eli states that Reverend Brent Hawks believes he has found a loophole in the Ontario, Canada Marriage Act. Eli reports that, according to the pastor, there are
two ways of obtaining a marriage license in Ontario (58). The first is for the couple to pick up a marriage license at City Hall; but this doesn t work for gays and lesbians because the province does not recognize same-sex marriages, so city employees will not issue the licenses (Eli 58). The second rout involves the ancient practice of reading the banns of marriage in church for three Sundays before the wedding (Eli 58). Eli
explains that the pastor announces the impending marriage to his congregation; if anyone can offer just cause or impediment why the couple may not marry, let him speak now or forever hold his peace. Eli writes that once the wedding ceremony is performed, the pastor notifies the office of Ontario s registration and requests a marriage license for the couple (58). These are two ways that a gay or lesbian couple can actually be married and are seen married in the eyes of the church also.
A number of states are jumping on the bandwagon to ban gays and lesbians from getting married but along with all of the negative feedback that gays get from society there are a few laws protecting their rights to enjoy the sanctity of marriage. Stuart Taylor, activist for gay rights, states that marriage is the professed commitment of two individuals to a lasting relationship of mutual affection, which provides stability for the individuals, their family, and the broader community (522). And if marriage is to fulfill its aspirations it must be defined by the commitment of one to another for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health ( Let ). The equal inclusion of homosexuals in
marriage will strengthen family life as it folds gay family members into the social path of their parents and siblings ( Separate ).
The point of modern marriage is to provide a secure acknowledged institution in which the love of one person for another can find expression and support ( Separate ). Homosexuals can find this comfort in a few different laws that were designed to help protect some of their rights. Domestic-partnership allows same-sex couples to enjoy the same hospital visitation, medical decision-making, insurance access, inheritance, and
homestead-protection privileges afforded to legal married couples (Flynn 22). To be eligible for civil unions gay couples would have to obtain a license from the town clerk and have their union certified by a justice of the peace, judge or clergy member ( Win ). Although the state sanctioned marriage is the only one that binds gay and lesbian couples together in the eyes of the law ( Let ). By doing so it confers upon partner s unique rights to make life-or-death medical decisions, rights to inheritance, rights to share pensions and medical benefits. It also confers upon each the legal responsibilities of guardianship and care of the other ( Let ). And in Holland by a 109-33 vote, Parliament s lower house became the first legislative unit in the world to pass a bill providing gay men and lesbians full family right marriage, adoption, and divorce ( Dutch 13). Under the bill, gay couples can trade their registered same-sex partnerships for marriage certificates, complete with guidelines for divorce and wider adoption right ( Dutch 13).
Beyond the U.S. borders, Mubarak Dahir states, marriage rights for same-sex couples saw a boost in several countries where gay couples receive the same legal rights as common law couples (60). Greg Johnson, an assistant professor at Vermont Law School who has counseled same-sex partnership cases, points to positive moves on legal recognition of lesbian and gay relationships in France, Germany, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Iceland, Hungary, and Israel as evidence that in a world view, it s undeniably
the way Western countries are moving (Dahir 60).
Democratic Governor Gary Davis signed into law three significant pieces of gay civil rights legislation (Colbert 19). One law makes public schools safer for gay students, another establishes a statewide domestic partnership registration and provides same-sex couples with hospital visitation rights and health insurance benefits, and a third law
enhances protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation in housing and employment (Colbert 19). This allows gays to be open with their sexual preference but still at the same time be protected with a law. But no matter what law the states publish it isn t going to stop society from picking apart homosexuals.
Homosexuals just as anyone else should be able to get married. Denying gays and lesbians this right does not allow them to participate fully in everyday society. And while there are laws being passed to grant homosexuals almost all of the rights of a married couple, there are still limitations to these.
The Dutch Say I Do. Advocate (Oct. 2000): 13.
Gay Discrimination Opposed By a Majority. Christian Century Feb. 2000: 201.
Let Them Wed. Economist Jan. 1996: 338.
Separate But Equal? The New Republic Jan. 2000: 222.
States Discuss Marriage Laws. Christianity Today Feb. 2000: 44.
A Win For Gays. Time Mar. 2000: 155.
Colbert, Chuck. Catholics Should Reject Anti-Gay Ballot Measure.
National Catholic Reporter 19(Mar. 2000): 19.
Cronin, Michael. Shades of Gay. Newsweek Mar. 2000: 46.
Dahir, Mubarak. Debating Romance. Advocate (Jan. 2001): 60.
Dahir, Mubarak. Nebraska Bans Gay Marriages. Lesbian News 26 (Dec.
Driedger, Sharon Doyle. The Edge of Tolerance. Maclean s Jan.1997: 42-43.
Drummond, Tammerlin. A Win For Gays. Time Mar. 2000: 88.
Eli, Schuster. Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace. Newsmagazine
Jan. 2001: 58.
Flynn, Tom. Martial-Type Benefits For Same-Sex Couples. Free Inquiry
Spring 2000: 22.
Idelson, Holly. GOP Sets Pre-Emptive Strike On Same-Sex Marriages.
Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report 54 (May 1996): 1393.
Stoltz, Eric. Signs of the Times. Commonweal Apr. 2000: 31.
Taylor, Stuart Jr. A Vote For Gay Marriage But Not By Judicial Fiat.
National Journal 32 (Feb. 2000): 522-523.
Tharp, Mike. A No To Gay Marriage. U.S News and World Report Mar. 2000: 39.
Wilson, James Q. Against Homosexual Marriage. Commentary Mar