Legalization Of Same Sex Marriages Essay, Research Paper
Legalization of Same-Sex Marriages
Walking into a restaurant, a person sees Ralph sitting at the far corner. Ralph looks like a friendly man, so the person goes over and starts talking. The two get along instantly, finding that they have many things in common and they talk all night. Being a decent man, when the restaurant closes Ralph goes home alone, but not before getting the phone number of his new friend. The next evening, Ralph calls and the two go out for dinner at a quiet restaurant just outside the city. The two start seeing each other quite frequently, and eventually their friendship evolves into more. They start dating exclusively and after several years of being together, they decide that they want to get married. They move into a new house and live together, committed to each other for over ten years, but they never actually marry. Why would a couple so in love, so committed to each other choose not to get married? In this couple’s case, getting married was not an option. The person Ralph met at the restaurant that night was named Frank and is male. As of now there is no state in the United States that legally recognizes same-sex marriages. The state that is closest to legalizing these marriages is Hawaii. In repute to the possibility of Hawaii’s legalization of same-sex marriages, Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage as “the legal union between one man and one woman” (NOW). DOMA also allows each state to decide whether or not it will recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states or municipalities within the state (NOW). The debate over this issue is hot all across the country, with people on both sides of the
argument standing firm in their beliefs. The issue is working its way through the legal system and the outcome at this point is completely unpredictable. Denying marriage to a specific group of people is unconstitutional and something must be done so that all people in the United States will be legally able to enjoy the benefits of marriage with a spouse of his or her choice.
There are only a few arguments against same-sex marriage, most of which are based solely on emotions or religious beliefs and traditions. One of the arguments against same-sex marriages is that marriage is not about the individuals involved, but it is supposed to be for procreation. This belief has strong roots in Christian religions. As Jean Elshtain wrote in Commonweal magazine, “Marriage is not and never has been, primarily about two people – it is and always has been about the possibility of generativity” (59). Before DOMA was passed in the House of Representatives, there was some debate over whether or not to pass it. Supporters of DOMA tried to force the issue by describing homosexual people as being “immoral, perverse and unnatural” (Dority 39). This argument is completely illegitimate because it is soley based on opinion and there is no scientific support to back up such a statement. It is a statement of pure prejudice against homosexual people and prejudice should not be a deciding factor in determining laws. Another argument being used against same sex marriages is that marriage benefits cost money and legalizing same-sex marriages would place a further strain on the treasury and “Taxpayers would end up subsidizing a lifestyle of which many disapprove” (U.S.News).
All of these reasons are understandable, but they all have their flaws. According to the Constitution of the United States, Article IV, Section 1 entitled “Full Faith and
Credit”, each state must respect and recognize the validity of the laws, public records and court decisions of every other state (Madison). This shows DOMA to be unconstitutional. Some legal issues are covered by State Law while others are covered by Federal Law. The Constitution is the supreme law of the land and neither the States nor the Federal Government can pass laws that are in defiance of the Constitution.
The argument that it will cost money and that taxpayers should not have to pay to support a lifestyle they do not approve of is also unconstitutional. Under the Constitution, each citizen is entitled to equal opportunity under the law and denying any citizen the right to marry is denying their equal rights. Also, if they are unable to receive the benefits that their taxes are going to support, why should homosexual people be required to pay these taxes? Married heterosexual couples are enjoying the benefits that homosexual people help to support but the argument against same-sex marriages is that people would be paying to support a lifestyle they do not necessarily approve of. This argument is hypocritical. The only way supporters could use it would be if homosexual people were not currently paying to support heterosexual lifestyles.
Married couples enjoy tax benefits as well as many other benefits that come with marriage. Some of these benefits are intangible such as the love and stability that comes with having a partner to come home to and care for each night. Married couples also enjoy legal benefits, visitation rights, family health coverage, and inheritance rights. Homosexual couples can not enjoy these benefits and oftentimes one partner is denied visitation or involvement in life and death decisions when a partner is hospitalized (Wolfson 79). Married couples are able to sign prenuptial agreements and in the event of
the end of a relationship, they are protected by these agreements. If a homosexual couple separates, neither of the people involved are protected and this could sometimes result in a child being removed by the state (Dority 37). The law should not deny any person benefits, both written and unwritten that marriage provides.
Arguing that marriage is not about the individuals, but is truly a procreational act could be considered if the government also denied marriage to those who are infertile. The government allows infertile men to marry women and infertile women to marry men. These couples are obviously not going to have children, so a marriage of this sort would not be a procreational one. Also, the government does not discriminate against the marriage of older people. The age limit on marriage varies from state to state, but in most states, one must be at least eighteen years of age to get married and one can be married younger then eighteen with parental consent. Allowing older men and women in their sixties and seventies to marry is legal, even though these couples will not be having any children. If homosexual people are not allowed to marry on the grounds that they will not be producing children, then laws should also prevent infertile and older couples from marrying. If the government only prohibits same-sex marriages on these grounds, homosexual people are once again being denied equal opportunity under the law.
The strongest opponents to legalizing same-sex marriages are religious institutions throughout the country. Many argue that the Bible says homosexuality is a sin and that marriage is only to be between a man and a woman. In a country that claims Freedom of Religion in the first Amendment to its Constitution, denying a group of people marriage privileges on account of what the Bible says is once again going against the rights of the
people (Madison). Separation of church and state is a fundamental democratic principle, one that this country was built on. To now have religious values influencing laws is going against one of the primary values of democracy itself.
Unfortunately in the United States today, same-sex marriages are not legal in any of the fifty states. In Hawaii, the issue as whether or not to legalize the marriages is still being debated. On a positive note, Hawaii is giving homosexual couples many of the rights and benefits that married couples receive. However, until all the other states follow Hawaii’s lead, homosexual people will be continually denied rights that all United States citizens rightfully deserve under the Constitution. Until the laws are changed, hundreds of couples like Ralph and Frank will not be able to get married and gain the benefits that are reserved for married couples only. In order for all citizens to have equal rights in America, same-sex marriages must be made legal.
Dority, Barbara. “An Equal Right to Marry.” The Humanist November/December 1996:
Elshtain, Jean. “Against Gay Marriage.” Commonweal Magazine 22 Oct. 1991: 57-60.
Madison, James. “United States Constitution.” 1787.
National Organization of Women. “Issue Report: Same-Sex Marriage.” Online.
“Pro and Con: Should gay marriage be legal?” U.S. News. June 3, 1996. Online.
Available: http://www.usnews.com/issue/3proco.htm (26 Nov. 1997)
Wolfson, Evan. “Why We Should Fight for the Freedom to Marry.” Journal of Gay,
Lesbian and Bisexual Identity 1.1 (1996): 79-89.