A monumental moment in the gay rights movement was when the state of California passed Proposition 8, a bill of legislature that solidified a ban on gay marriage. Also referred to as “Prop H8 (Hate)”, millions of Americans were shocked to learn that even in the liberal state of California, bigotry seemed to prevail. Comedian Jon Stewart remarks “Recently, the highest court in South Africa handed down a decision ordering the country’s parliament to extend marriage rights to all gay couples. So just to reiterate, America is now less progressive than South Africa. ” In spite of being politically incorrect and crude, Stewart makes a valid point.
When did the land of the free become the home of don’t disagree? As American’s we are guaranteed the right to think and feel however we choose to, but to the extent that one may act on these feelings is depressingly limited. The highly inflated argument for the ban on gay marriage is a profusely politicized and religiously charged debate. To say that same sex couples should have the right to marry because they are just as deserving as opposite-sex couples seems to be a cheap and flimsy argument, because it implies the possibility that same-sex couples may not meet some arbitrary standard.
It is an unquestionable truth that a ban on gay marriage infringes upon the American principles of equal protection and equal opportunity. A major aspect in the argument to ban gay marriage is that it invades the religious sanctity of marriage as an institution. This might prove true if marriage in America was a strictly religious entity. From the east coast to the west coast, you will not travel through one state that mandates a wedding ceremony to honor any specific religion. In America you are not required to hold a religious service to legally wed, and it is because of this that marriage is a civil affair (Miller).
In any state a judge or a civil servant may perform a marriage ceremony. In some states a marriage certificate can be acquired by signing an official document administered by the clerk at any court of law. When two people make the decision to spend their lives together and marry one another, there is no mandate by law that this union is to be performed under an ordained minister or in any religious context. Those who believe that same sex couples should not be allowed to marry because of their devout religious conviction often fail to extend this ervent passion of religious standards towards other wedding ceremonies. For example, murder is the same degree of sin as homosexuality as defined by the Bible, yet we allow convicted felons to marry (Miller). From those who oppose same sex marriage, the same force of resistance should meet these murderous felons by logic. The hypocrisy in the religious argument against gay marriage is one of the ultimate debunking factors for debates on this issue. Some who oppose same sex marriage argue that matrimony is for the purpose of procreating.
Obviously only opposite sex couples can conceive children with one another, and in that, homosexual couples cannot take part in what is considered to be one of the major foundations of society. Because homosexuals cannot reproduce they have been exempted from the very institution that has a direct correlation to procreation. This argument may posses some merit if marriage is or ever was for the sole purpose of creating families and making children. It is now widely agreed that marriage only needs to consist of two individuals that seek companionship. Many heterosexual couples now get married with every intention of not having children.
Should these people be instantaneously denied marriage or have a mandatory divorce? After all, aren’t they defeating the argued purpose of marriage by the procreation standard? But this decision to not reproduce is honored and protected by the Supreme Court ruling that couples have a right to decide if and when they are to have children (The Right to Decide). This Supreme Court ruling appears to be a direct contradiction to the opponents of same-sex marriage. So why would the conception of children ever be a reasonable claim to put a ban on gay marriage?
There are many that fear that children that are raised in gay and lesbian homes are raised in a dangerously deviant environment, inferring that “a heterosexual home is the most stable environment to raise healthy and happy children”(Miller). There is absolutely no warrant for this claim because of the simple fact that being a child raised in a opposite sex headed household does not and can not ensure that the children in question will be healthy and happy. In the court case Zablocki v. Redhall, it was ruled that negligent fathers shall not and cannot be restricted from marriage and/or emarriage. (Peterson). One’s ability to raise a child has never been a metric for obtaining a marriage license. So why would the well being of children ever apply to same- sex couples that want to legalize their marriage? Is it directly inferred that gay couples seek to raise a future legion of adolescent gays? I think not. The legal aspect of same-sex marriage is that “legally binding mutual rights and obligations of marriage reflect society’s expectations of marriage, and when necessary are enforced, thus providing an assurance that these expectations will be fulfilled” (Friedman).
There are many rights that are currently denied to gay unions. For instance, in the unfortunate event of a break up, spousal support is not enforced. When a partner is injured and ends up in the hospital, there have been occurrences of the other party not being allowed to see their significant other until a blood relative arrives with consent for a visit, which was the case in Florida when a lesbian couple on February 18, 2007 entered the E. R. due to a brain aneurysm being suffered by one of the women. Upon arrival the injured party was rushed into surgery.
For the following eight hours Janice Langbehn was denied the right to see her life partner Lisa Marie Pond, along with the four children they had been raising for the past eighteen years of their relationship. After a devastatingly long period of waiting, Janice and her children were allowed to see Lisa, only to have her pass away within five minutes of them reuniting. Janice later tried to obtain Lisa’s death certificate and information for social security benefits for their children and she was denied by the State of Florida and the Dade County Medical Examiner (Triumph Over Tragedy).
Often times, the sanctity and honesty of homosexual relationships are dismissed as if they are to have no integrity. This disregard for same sex relationships is one of the primary reasons that opposition can not seem to associate gay relationships with longstanding and devoted unions. These unions are no different than the heterosexual marriages that are performed every day. A core issue is that homosexuality is seen as a novelty lifestyle, one that does not deserve due credit for equal rights. Critic Stanley Kurtz states, “Marriage springs directly from the ethos of eterosexual sex. Once marriage loses its connection to the differences between men and women, it can only start to resemble a glorified and slightly less temporary version of hooking up”(Sullivan). Kurtz equates that gay relationships can be equated with a meaningless “hook-up”, as he so crudely puts it. To further explain Kurtz’ rationale for this statement, one must understand the premise of his view on marriage as an institution. Kurtz strongly believes that because of gender socialization, men and women inherently see marriage completely different.
He makes the claim that men enjoy sex more than women, however, women take comfort in stability rather than sexual pleasure. So for Kurtz’ idea of marriage, we can infer that heterosexual couples enter into marriage for a simple exchange of services. Men produce stability, and women in return provide sex. This kind of belief is an indictment against marriage altogether. If conservatives would like to save marriage from corruption, than maybe they can focus their agenda on the millions of flawed marriages that we currently have.
Kurtz view of marriage as an agreement for sex and stability dramatically lessens the true meaning and value of a marriage. To say that gay marriages will be a semi long-term one night stand reflects the conservatives insecurity and dissatisfaction of marital status within the heterosexual community. Perhaps the legalization of same sex marriage would dilute the alarming rate of divorce in the U. S. The fact of the matter is that homosexuality is a generally accepted lifestyle nowadays with most evidence proving biological causation. This biological preference for ones own sex should not be subject to direct discrimination.
It is all to clear that denying these marriages is a form of minority discrimination. For years, African Americans struggled in the U. S. to be seen as an equal people. Countless battles and bloodshed occurred for African Americans to gain their civil rights. Though racism is still alive and well, America has come to the obvious realization that petty discrimination should not be backed by our Constitution. We as a society are free to think and feel however we want to, but to put a legal mandate that would support discriminatory mindsets is just wrong. Same sex marriage doesn’t hurt society or anyone in particular.
There is no underlying objective of the gay community in seeking marriage licenses. Since the legalization of civil unions, marriage-like relationships have failed to produce the long awaited social collapse. 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 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”(Rauch). 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.
Family Equality Council. “Page 1. ” Triumph Over Tragedy: the Langbehn-Pond Family’s story. Family Equality Council , 19 July 2007. Web. 12 Nov. 2009. Friedman, Lawrence M. Private Lives: Families, Individuals, and the Law. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2005. Print. IPPF. “The Right to Decide whether or when to have Children. ” International Planned Parenthood Federation. IPPF , 2008. Web. 10 Nov. 2009. . Miller, Karen. “Same-Sex Marriage . ” Opposing Viewpoint Resource Center. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2008, n. d. Web. 10 Nov. 2009. . Peterson, Gary W. Handbook of marriage and the family . N. Y. C, New York: Pelnum Press, 1999. Print. Rauch, Jonathan. Gay Marriage: Why It’s Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America. New York: Holt, 2004. Print.