Topics: Homosexuality, Same-sex marriage, Marriage Pages: 34 (12387 words) Published: May 8, 2013
Janet carrizales
Article #1Society Should Allow Same-Sex Marriage
Homosexuality , 2003

Top of Form
Alec Walen is a professor of legal, ethical, and historical studies at the University of Baltimore. It was a foregone conclusion that the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) would become law. A majority in this country believe that gay marriage is wrong and demeaning to the institution of marriage, and our politicians do a reasonably good job of representing the interests of their constituents, at least on nontechnical matters like this. Rare indeed was the member of Congress who expressed concern over the fact that the DOMA's sole aim is to perpetuate the unequal treatment of homosexuals by defining marriage for the purposes of federal law as "a legal union between one man and one woman." -------------------------------------------------

Constitutional and Moral Arguments
There are both constitutional and moral problems with this inequality. Because of the constitutional problems, we may yet be saved from the law by the Supreme Court.1 But that is not my concern here. I want to argue that denying homosexuals the right to marry whom they love is morally unjustifiable. As Representative Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) said, the debate over the bill "is really about a simple question, a question of equal rights. Marriage is a basic right.... Love and commitment are essential pillars of marriage. They are qualities that do not discriminate on account of gender.... Love and commitment can exist between a man and a woman and it can and does exist between men and between women." Unless it can be shown that love and commitment are not the only pillars of marriage, and that the other pillars cannot exist between men or between women, or unless there is some social need pressing enough to deny homosexuals a basic right, the DOMA stands as an unjust obstacle to equality. Justifying the DOMA arguments is a moral burden that none of its supporters ought to slough off lightly. What follows is an examination of the best arguments made by congressional supporters of the DOMA. Focusing on the congressional debate may seem to mistake political grandstanding for serious argument. But even if most congressional supporters of the DOMA do not really believe what they say, politicians are professional weather vanes—their words are a telling indicator of what people want to hear, and thus of what the people who elect them (theoretically, the majority of us) think. -------------------------------------------------

After examining the arguments given by congressional supporters of the DOMA and showing that none of them carries the necessary moral burden, I will try to answer the following question: if there is no way the DOMA can be morally justified, why all the righteous talk in favor of it? One answer is that our culture is permeated by a current of authoritarian moral thinking. By this I mean that many Americans think that if the state does not enforce their values, disaster will follow. They see no virtue in a state that is neutral in the face of competing moral conceptions—and this shows why paying attention to the passage of the DOMA is important. For the new law symbolizes the extent to which we as a culture have yet to come to terms with the ideals of liberty and equality that we espouse. In the following, all quotations are taken from the Congressional Record for the debates over the DOMA; House Debate, July 11-12, 1996; Senate Debate, September 10, 1996. -------------------------------------------------

(1) Majority Rule
Representative Charles Canady (R-FL): "Those of us who support this bill reject the view that [choice of a partner of the opposite sex or the same sex is] a matter of indifference. In doing so, we have the overwhelming support of the American people." Moreover, "Seventy percent of the American people are not bigots. Seventy percent of the American...
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