31 March 2013
Classical Greece, 7th century BC. When a male child reaches an age somewhere between 13 and 17, he prepares to become a fully recognized citizen. This includes training for the military, and becoming the apprentice of an older, male member of the society. This elder teaches his new apprentice responsibility, social norms, and the odds and ends of being an adult. He also engages in penetrative sex with him. Homosexuality has been a part of society for a very long time. In fact, one of the only other human conditions that outdates it is marriage. With both concepts being so old, it should come to no surprise that the two have crossed paths. In 1996, the Defense of Marriage Act was passed. This act revised the definition of marriage to “a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife.” Later, in 2004 a surge of gay marriages brought national attention to the subject once again. This sparked an argument that has continued to this very day. The purpose of this article is not to dispute the charges for or against same sex marriage. This essay will examine gay marriage from the economic, sociological, and historical perspectives. Through these perspectives, the issue of gay marriage will be more clearly defined. Historical
For the purposes of this essay, I would like to begin by using the historical perspective to examine interracial marriages as a segue into same sex marriage. In the budding America, a law was passed in 1691 that prohibited interracial marriages. This set the tone for the next 276 years. Though there were flows and ebbs, in which some states would take a negative stance on anti-miscegenation laws, the majority of the nation supported these laws. During the Jim Crow era, they were pushed even further. The punishment for interracial relationships were often cruel and extreme because the general belief of the time was that interracial marriage would have negative impacts on the economy, children, and even general health. Modern times have shown, however, that these arguments were all biased and untrue (Wikipedia).
Almost mirroring the arguments surrounding miscegenation, arguments have been made challenging same sex marriages and relationships. Opinion polls reported by Gallop between 2004 and 2005 outlined the basic American stance on the issue. In one poll, conducted in 2004, Americans were asked if they would favor or oppose a law that would allow homosexual couples to legally get married, or if they had no opinion on the issue at all. The results showed that only 24% of Americans would have favored such a law. 23% did not have an opinion about gay marriage, and the majority, 53%, opposed such a law - with 44% of those respondents opposing it strongly (Carroll). Though this poll had no immediate influence on the outcome of legislation surrounding same-sex marriage, it showed the general disdain Americans had for gay marriage and homosexuality in general.
As if to supplement those results, in late 2005 the American Family Association – a conservative Christian foundation listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center as of November 2010 for the “propagation of known falsehoods” and the use of “demonizing propaganda” against LGBT people – published a website called NoGayMarriage.com. This website delineated 10 reasons against same-sex marriage, and generated millions of views and nods of approval. These arguments included same-sex marriage being a slippery slope that leads to polygamy, same-sex couples adopting and turning their children into baby homosexuals, and same-sex marriages draining the economy and bringing about divine retribution (Head). This website and article reinforced all the negative stereotypes surrounding gay legislation and used the religious tendency of the American people to set the movement back.
The AIDS epidemic of the late 80s veiled the gay community in a shroud of perceived danger and mystery. The...