Gay Rights To Marriage Essay, Research Paper
November 22, 2000
Gays Should Have the Right
My aunt, who lives in Missouri, has had a loving partner for about four years. They are both lesbians and want to get married someday when the law allows. I asked them to send me a letter on some of their thoughts on same-sex marriage. Out of her four-page letter I pulled this reply out, “If two people of the same sex choose to make a life together I feel that they should have the same rights as a man and women would have once they are married, but the real kicker is…. That a man and women can live together X number of years and can be considered by common law as a legal husband and wife. So for two couples of the same sex we should have the same rights as a man and woman does. For example health insurance, if one has insurance thru his or her employment it would be of great benefit to put your mate on your policy.” So, why can’t my “aunts” get married? It is illegal, as of now, to have same-sex marriages. Should these people have the same rights as heterosexual couples? I think so, because homosexual couples are real people, in real relationships, committed to each other the same way in which a heterosexual couple is committed to each other. I believe these people should have the same rights as everyone else.
Justice Anthony Kennedy writes for the majority of the Supreme Court in the decision in overturning Colorado’s Amendment 2 referendum. “We cannot accept the view that Amendment 2’s prohibition on specific legal protection does no more than deprive homosexuals of special rights. On the other hand, the amendment imposes a special disability on those persons alone. Homosexuals are forbidden the safeguards that other enjoy or may seek without constraint” (NetFirst). “A state cannot deem a class of persons a stranger to its laws,” declared the Supreme Court, in 1996 (Qt in Eskridge). Gay men and women are citizens, entitled, like everyone else, to equal protection. Not any special rights, but the ones created in The Declaration of Independence. The unalienable rights to Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness are guaranteed to the citizens of the United States.
It is not common knowledge that nearly three out of four people support gays rights (NetFirst)? But at the same time the same percentage of people oppose gay marriage (NetFirst). How can people be that insincere? One of the reasons is the definition of marriage has changed throughout the years. It once was held that marriage was between a man and women. Then for centuries, marriages were a contract in which the wife was her husband’s property, and we have changed that over time to fit our needs and wants. Later, the definition changed to marriage between two people of the same race, and once again we changed it to fit our own definition.
Definitions of marriage vary from state to state. In Minnesota, the Supreme Court held that the right to marry was inapplicable to same-sex unions because marriage, by definition, requires a man and woman, not two men (Eskridge). But on March 17, 1997, Maryland gay right activists won a battle against legislation, which tried to ban the recognition of same-sex marriages. Evan Wolfson, a gay rights activist states, “Time and time again people say we can’t win these fights. But sometimes we do”(Advocate). Gay right activists won another small battle in the state of New Jersey. The small victory was that the court recognized the marriage of a post-operative male-to-female transsexual and a biological male (Eskridge).
Another reason people fight against gay marriages is the subject of raising children. If two people of the same sex can not raise children, then why are murderers, convicted felons of all sort, even known child molesters allowed to get married and bring children into their heterosexual marriages? Wanting a family is not a bad thing and the conservatives in this nation should realize that they are contradicting their belief system by opposing same-sex marriages. The fact is many gay couples do raise children. They either adopt the children and/or occasionally have their own biological children from failed attempts at heterosexual marriages. Many studies have shown that the outcomes of the children raised in homosexual homes are just as good as those children coming out of heterosexual homes. Psychologists tell us that the difference is the love received by the parents, not their gender (NetFirst). Studies are very clear about the love received by the children, and gay people have the same amount of love to give to children, as anyone else does (NetFirst).
Gay relationships are immoral. Why? Who said so? The Bible? I don’t think so. Does not the Bible tell people to follow the Golden Rule, which is to do unto others, as you would have others do unto you? The Bible has no standing in American law, and gives no one the right to impose rule on anyone else because they perceive it be mandated by the Bible. Buddhism celebrates gays relationships freely, and would like to have the authority to make them legal marriages (NetFirst). Western United Methodist churches have been leading the fight for greater inclusion of gays and lesbians. Sixty-eight ministers performed a same-sex union service for two lesbians, in January 1999. United Methodist churches in 12 western states vowed to work for the, “full participation at all levels in the life of the church and society” for gays and lesbians (Christian Century). The decisions made at the General Conference do not necessarily represent the views of everyone in the church. “For me, the hope is to let folks in the church and who are no longer in the church to know? the quest for justice is not over,” said Sharon Rhodes-Wickett, a Los Angeles pastor (Christian Century). Scott Bidstrup argues that, if one believes gay relationships to be immoral, yet one believes in religious freedom, then the recognition that opposition to gay marriages is based on religious factors is reason enough to invalidate this argument (NetFirst).
Three same-sex couples were suing the state of Hawaii because they felt that their rights listed in the Hawaii constitution were being violated. According to John P. Felfmeier, on May 5, 1993, the Supreme Court of Hawaii issued an opinion holding that the state’s refusal to recognize same-sex marriages would be found unconstitutional unless the state could support such a prohibition by a compelling interest. In Hawaii’s Constitution, Article I, Section 5, reads: “No persons shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor be denied the equal protection of the laws, not be denied the enjoyment of the person’s civil rights or be discriminated against in the exercise thereof because of race, religion, sex or ancestry”(Eskridge).
On September 21, 1996, President Clinton signed into the law the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which grants states the right to ignore same-sex marriages contracted in other states, and creates a federal definition of marriage, which excludes same-sex couples, to be applied in connection with all federal statutes and programs. Does this act that the President of the United States pass seem unconstitutional? Under Article IV of the U.S. Constitution, is the full faith and credit clause, which states that states are seemingly required to honor the public acts of other states, such as marriage. Richard D. Mohr writes this famous exchange between two people talking about the DOMA laws a few years ago, as part of a House subcommittee hearing on the so-called DOMA, Barney Frank grilled DOMA co-sponsor Henry Hyde to a revelatory result. Frank got Hyde to admit that if gays got married, they would take absolutely nothing away from Hyde’s own marriage or, by extension, from any other current American marriage (Gay & Lesbian Review). This act was passed to exercise the federal power to force the possible legality of same-sex marriage in Hawaii. Why do we as a nation need this act? It is discriminating to gay and lesbian couples and should be illegal.
I can understand people who oppose gay marriages. They are just not comfortable with the idea. The fact that people are not comfortable with the idea stems from the fact that for many years, society has promoted the idea that a marriage between same-sex is somehow immoral, mainly because of the objections stated above. But, I don’t think that those objections make sense, and the idea of gay marriage should not sound so extreme. These are real people who want the same rights as everyone else in America, the rights to marriage. David A.J. Richards says, “That same-sex marriage is not a threat to marriage, but a recognition of marriage’s deeper moral values and the principled elaboration of those values to all persons; the case for legitimacy of gay marriage crucially rest on the value (real and symbolic) reasonably placed in our culture on marriage and family life, and argues, as a matter of principle, for fair extension of that value to all persons on fair terms” (Richards).
There has been progress in legalizing same-sex marriages, but more needs to be done about it. That is why this issue has started to turn into a civil rights issue. The fact is, referring to matter, that the couples cannot make medical decisions for their partners in an emergency. My aunt made an interesting argument here. This is what she had to say in her letter, “The final and most important matter to me is, say if I was involved in an accident and I needed to be put on life support and I didn’t have a living will made out to say Do Not Revive and my lover knew very well how I felt, that I would not want to be put on any machines of any kind, all it would take is for one LEGAL family member to step in and over see what my lover knows on how I feel and want.” Say a partner is arrested; the other is forced by the government to testify against them or provide evidence against them, which legally married couples are not forced to do (NetFirst). Why are we depriving gay couple of their rights? They are the sons and daughters of countless mothers and fathers, with all the weakness and strengths and hope of everyone else. They want and desire love. We need to stop discriminating against those who are different from us, and let the gay and lesbian couples attain their happiness in same-sex marriages.
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