Same sex marriage is an issue that has come to be very heavily debated over the past couple of years. The government is attempting to decide whether or not members of the same sex should be permitted to be legally wed in a civil ceremony. Both sides of the debate are reaching their conclusions by incorporating issues involving ethics and morality.
I feel that same sex marriage should be legalized because of the numerous benefits that it can possibly provide for society as a whole. A ban on marriages denies the gays of a societal right and to deny any persons from this right because of their sexual preference is an extraordinary deprivation.
The societal benefits that could come about with the legalization of same sex marriage is political reform, legitimacy of the gay lifestyle in the public’s eye, socioeconomic benefits for these couples and it can possibly provide safe-guarding for the children of gay and lesbian couples.
I do not feel as Robert Knight when he states in his article “How Domestic Partnerships and Gay Marriages Threaten the Family” that it would undermine the institutions of marriage and family. I feel that it will reinforce the ideas of marriage and family by allowing it to include all members of our society.
If same sex marriage is legalized it will be a step towards reforming the somewhat conservative legislation that has been set forth by the United States government. The laws of this country have altered tremendously over the past few decades. There has been legislation passed that have assisted in the advancement of women and minority groups.
Society should not go back to these dated ideas and laws that “encourage only straight marriages and protect existent marriages by rewards and privileges for this productive behavior and extending sanctions and stigmas to unproductive behavior, such as promiscuous and homosexual sex.” (White 338) It is an atrocious idea that people would want to go back to the days that stigmas and hatred were cast upon those who did not fit into this “normal” mode of conduct.
The courts of today have ruled against miscegenation laws, abortion has been legalized and there are now laws that protect women from sexual harassment. It is unfortunate that in these modern times men who are drawn to other men or women to other women are denied equal protection under the law.
Individuals who believe that same gender marriage is wrong, merely echo the racist majority from decades ago that argued against interracial relationships. The members of these groups felt that race mixing would be detrimental to the “superior” white race. Both arguments are similar in the sense that they are based upon religious mythology and weak rationalizations and should be deemed ethically unjust.
It would be beneficial to the gay community that individuals in committed relationships can infer a sense of legitimacy to the public at large. “In 1967 laws against interracial marriages were diminished and since then these marriages have become more acceptable and commonplace in society.”
(Wilson 9) If same sex marriages were legalized then it would be very likely that the gay lifestyle will slowly be more accepted by the population. Knight points out that in May of 1994, the city of Austin, Texas became the first jurisdiction in the United States to overturn an existing domestic partners law when the citizenry voted 62 percent to 38 percent to undo what the city council had enacted.
Although the majority may feel that gay marriage is wrong, it does not make it necessarily morally right to deny them the ability to wed. Thirty years ago, a public display of affection between two people of the same sex would have drawn unwanted negative attention. Today if you turn on the television a person is inundated with depictions of same sex relationships .and it is becoming less unusual to see displays of affection between people of the same sex. If society is becoming more accepting of same sex relationships, the laws should reflect these feelings.
Another major issue is that gays and lesbians are being denied the socioeconomic benefits that other married couples attain by a legal union. Gay couples should be allowed to file for joint ownership of property, receive their partner’s health benefits and have the power to make medical decisions regarding their partner. “In the late 1990’s laws were passed that denied federal benefits to gay couples such as Social Security survivor benefits and pensions.”
(Woodward 62) Also, if a homosexual with a life partner becomes incapacitated, his biological family, who may never have accepted his lifestyle, can force decisions against his will and even deny visits from his long-term partner. James Wilson’s article entitled “Homosexual Marriage” reports cases of lesbian mothers having their children taken away from them by distant relatives and gay fathers being denied visitation rights to their children. It is obvious that without the protection of a legal marriage, gay partners will be denied benefits that by all accounts are rightfully theirs.
Another important reason that same sex marriage should be legalized is because it has the ability to safe-guard the children of gay or lesbian couples. The manner in which these children are conceived is inconsequential and legalization could also assist in the adoption process. It is well known that adoption agencies are more likely to place a child in a two parent household where there are two incomes providing for the child.
Homosexual couples deserve the right to raise the child in a household where the institution of their parent’s marriage is used to promote the ideas of fidelity and the basic disciplines of family life. Same sex marriages will not as Knight says, “pose a clear danger to a child’s development of healthy sexual identities.” (White 330) In today’s society there is not a “normal” sexual identity and a gay parent can assist just as well as a straight parent in forming their child’s identity.
One of the opposing arguments to gay marriage is the complaint that procreation is not possible between a same sex couple and that having children should be a main reason for a couple to marry. Although it is not anatomically possible for a same sex couple to procreate, it is also not possible for a sterile heterosexual couple to have children. Yet there are no laws prohibiting sterile couples the right to wed. Another obstacle that same sex couples face is that various religious scriptures condemn romantic relationships between members of the same sex.
These arguments are rightly debated within the churches, but there is a separation between church and state. It is well known that a majority of gays have stated that they would be satisfied with only the civil right to marry and would not pursue the right for a wedding within the church. Therefore religious arguments should not be used to reach this decision, since they have no relevance to the civil right to wed.
The definition of marriage must be extended beyond the idea that it is a union between a man and a woman. Over the course of history that definition has changed to fit the times. For centuries, marriage was considered to be a contract in which the wife was considered to be her husband’s legal property.
Later, laws were passed that allowed couples of different races to wed. Presently the definition should extend to include a union either between a man and a man or a woman and a woman. It will in no way threaten the institution of marriage and it will allow gays to receive the benefits that are now only received by heterosexual couples.
To further expand on this idea of the definition of marriage, Webster defined marriage in its Third New International Dictionary as “the state of being united to the person of the opposite sex as husband of wife b: the mutual relation of husband and wife: wedlock c: the institution whereby men and women are joined in a special kind of social and legal dependence for the purpose of founding and maintaining a family.”
(White 335) The exclusivity of these definitions to be replaced to include relationships that is not only between couples of the opposite sex. What the argument boils down to is anatomy and that seems to be a silly reason to deny a person the right to marry someone that they love. Times have changed and the government should enact laws that protect all members of society despite their sexual preference.