Walter Boothe Jr.
Axia College at The University of Phoenix
Marriage Equality 2
Same sex marriage has become a highly debated topic in America. In the year 2008, two events occurred in the state of California that made this subject a key issue in the high courts, the congress, and the main stream media: the legalization of gay marriage in April, and the passing of Proposition 8 in November. Though this may seem like a current topic, the arguments, both for and against same sex marriage, have been around for some time. Seventy percent of people in the United States oppose same sex marriage (Bidstrup 2009) Within this percentage are people who favor civil unions, the alternative to marriage. Some gay couples opt for civil unions, rather than not be legally joined to their partners. Other gay couples feel that civil unions are a slap in the face, because they do not offer all of the benefits traditional marriage does. Many same sex couples feel that they should either be allowed to marry, or civil unions should provide the same rights as traditional marriage. The greatest offensive weapon for those who oppose same sex marriage is The Defense of Marriage Act. In 1996, President Bill Clinton, signed The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA Watch, 2009). This law defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman for all federal laws, and does not require states to recognize marriages from other states between people of the same sex (DOMA Watch, 2009). Currently, 37 states have their own Defense of Marriage Acts, while two more
Marriage Equality 3
states have strong language that defines marriage as one man with one woman (DOMA Watch, 2009).Thirty states have constitutional amendments that protect traditional marriage; among them are the three states (Arizona, California, and Florida) that passed constitutional amendments in November 2008(DOMA Watch, 2009). Proponents of same sex marriage argue that the Defense of Marriage Act and all marriage amendments are unconstitutional, because the law excludes a portion of society. Marriage is a union between one woman and one man is the most often heard argument, yet it is easily the weakest (Bidstrup, 2009). If opposers of gay marriage cannot show a compelling reason to deny the institution of marriage to gay people, then it should not be denied (Bidstrup,2009).The concept of not denying people their rights unless one can provide a compelling reason not to do so is the very basis of the American ideal of human rights (Bidstrup, 2009). Since many law makers who oppose gay marriage admit that their opposition is based primarily on their religious beliefs, it can be argued that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional if it is indeed based on religious belief. Religion has no standing in American law (Bidstrup, 2009). No one has the right to impose rules on anyone else because of something that they feel to be mandated by the Bible (Bidstrup, 2009). Strong arguments suggest; however, that same sex marriage could pose a threat to religious institutions in America. When you make homosexual marriage a protected class, then the government has a compelling interest to
Marriage Equality 4
normalize that and declare anything in opposition to it hate speech (Goodstein, 2008). This statement was fueled by an incident in Sweden in which a pastor named Ake Green was sentenced to a month in prison for giving a sermon denouncing homosexuality. Under Sweden’s law, Pastor...