An Argument for Gay Marriage
The premise of this paper is to prove that solid reasoning for denial of gay marriage is currently absent, and that legalization would provide much-needed equality to these unions. Arguments discussed include the "special rights" argument, the financial cost of legalizing same-sex marriage, the social belief that such marriages are "inherently wrong" or contradictory to America's Judeo-Christian foundation, and the conviction that legalizing same-sex marriage would threaten the institution of marriage itself. The work concludes that that there is no demonstrable validity to the most commonly used arguments against gay marriage, and that denial of the right for homosexuals to marry constitutes discrimination.
An Argument for Gay Marriage
Civil marriage is at once a deeply personal commitment to another human being and a highly public celebration of the ideals of mutuality, companionship, intimacy, fidelity, and family. It is an association that promotes a way of life, not causes; a harmony in living, not political faiths; a bilateral loyalty, not commercial or social projects.' (Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, 2003, para. 34) If marriage is such a soulful, binding occurrence, why would American society choose to deny a segment of the population the right to experience it? That question is central to the debate of gay marriage. Some opponents use the argument that granting gays the right to marry is a "special right," or that the financial cost of gay marriage benefits to the United States government and to businesses is prohibitive. Others espouse the position that gay marriage is just inherently wrong. Still others argue that same-sex couples' bid for legal marriage actually threatens the institution of marriage itself, and is contradictory to America's Judeo-Christian roots. All of these arguments are based upon dubious evidence and personal fears. Absent solid reasoning for denial, gay marriage should be legalized to provide equality to these unions. The "special right" argument consists of the erroneous belief that granting the minority a right that the majority already has access to is a "special right." The problem with this argument is that it assumes that the entire population starts out with equal rights, and it follows that any further rights granted to gays must then be "special" (Bidstrup, 2004, para. 30). In 1996, Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which was signed into law by President Bill Clinton on September 21 of the same year. DOMA provides that each state may deny Constitutional marital rights to same sex couples who have been married in other states. It also defines marriage, for purposes of federal law, as "a legal union of one man and one woman as husband and wife" (as cited in Wikipedia, 2006a, para. 1). The Federal government recognized in a 1997 memorandum that there are approximately one thousand forty-nine federal laws in which marital status is a feature (United States Government Accounting Office [USGAO], 1997, p. 2). In a 2004 update to that memorandum, the USGAO identified eighty-nine additional laws involving marital status, for a grand total of one thousand one hundred thirty-eight "federal statutory provisions in which marital status is a factor in determining or receiving benefits, rights, and privileges" (p. 1). Not to be forgotten are the approximately four hundred individual state's rights awarded to married couples in the United States (Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance [OCRT], 2001, para 3). Of those state and federal rights, three of the most important are decision-making powers in the event of medical emergency or death, civil rights and judicial protections, and the financial benefits of legally recognized relationships. As an example, the legal rights guaranteed to heterosexual married couples in medical emergencies or after a...