prominent issue as you can see in books, on television, in the media, and as we have
most recently seen, in politics. Given this trend of greater acceptance of gay
marriage, the issue of whether to legalize same-sex marriage comes about naturally.
Massachusetts has led the way by legalizing gay marriage. Responding to this
example, some states have taken steps towards accepting gay, while others are
considering laws and constitutional amendments banning gay marriage within state
borders. Recently, another controversy has risen, who should deal with the matter:
individual states or the federal government?
“Legal steps toward changing marriage laws to include same-sex couples
began in 1993 with legal challenges at the state level in Hawaii. This challenge failed
and was soon followed by the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) of 1996 that
defines marriage as a contract between one man and one woman and supports
states’ rights to refuse to recognize same-sex marriage across state lines. In 2000,
the Vermont state court upheld the rights of same-sex couples to equal benefits,
resulting in legal protections for civil unions” (eric.ed.gov). This breakthrough was
thought to start a revolution, with other states following in Vermont’s footsteps, but
this was not the case. Instead the debate only grew larger and larger, with many
“Those opposed to same-sex marriage state that by allowing this act,
marriages everywhere will lose their honor and validity” (Kurtz). Opponents argue
that marriages between a man and a woman would lose their importance, if the
definition of marriage is expanded to include same-sex couples as well. The test of
time has proven this fear pointless. For several years, Germany, Spain, and the
Netherlands have allowed gay marriage without any signs of damage to
heterosexual couples. “Social life in these countries continues unchanged and no
dramatic increases have appeared in the divorce rate” (Dilanian). One cannot argue
that the so-called traditional marriages in Europe between a man and a woman have
been made less valuable.
A second controversy of same sex marriage is that it meddles with religious
beliefs, therefore is bending society’s views of morality. Several religions strictly
don’t allow any type of partnership with the same sex and many opponents object to
same-sex marriage on purely religious grounds. Opponents often claim that
extending marriage to same-sex couples will ruin the accepted purpose of marriage.
Cultural, religious, and traditional understanding can depict this. Religious beliefs
are important factors when determining right from wrong and what is morally just.
Many people use religious beliefs to choose a side in this ongoing battle because of
this reason. Individuals find themselves torn between their religious views and what
Many argue that marriage is basically a religious ceremony. Because of this
many feel that legalizing gay marriage is sacrilegious. They feel that same-sex
marriage is an unjustified imposition of the state into what is necessarily a religious
matter. Because of religion's traditional role in blessing marriages and presiding
over wedding ceremonies this is understandable, but it's also incorrect.
Others wanting to ban gay marriage claim that allowing such marriages will
taint America’s family values by encouraging gay couples to raise families. Some
state that a child raised in a household with two parents of the same sex will create
problems psychologically and sociologically for that child. “How the child will cope
with this is a very important aspect of the debate. Once again, real life reveals that
these concerns lack foundation: gay couples have been raising children for years,
and studies show that children are not harmed in any way by being raised in a gay
family” (Martin). If anything, allowing same-sex marriage would promote family
stability by providing legal and economic benefits to gay parents. Legalizing gay
marriage would strengthen families with same-sex parents while there are no
threats to heterosexual families.
Those who support gay/lesbian marriage believe that protecting individual
choice has been a keystone of American life. Americans have always been proud of
their ability to speak freely, live, and travel wherever they choose, and subscribe to
the religious or philosophical beliefs that they think is best. All of this is within the
privacy of their homes. Why should the government have the power to limit the
choices of Americans when it comes to marriage? People should be able to live their
own lives freely.
Defending the rights of gay citizens to marry also leads the American dream
of promoting equality and preventing discrimination. “Gay marriage was declared
legal by Massachusetts courts because the Massachusetts constitution forbids the
creation of second-class citizens” (Marech). The idea of all Americans being treated
equally in the eyes of the law is also the foundation of the United States Constitution.
The founders of this nation believed that protecting everyone’s rights to life, liberty,
and the pursuit of happiness was key, and that protecting the rights of unpopular
citizens likely to face discrimination was even more crucial. Defending gay marriage
rights is promoting equality and preventing discrimination and could possibly
Due to many uprising controversies over the same-sex debate, gay and
lesbian marriage has only been recognized in nine of the fifty states. These states are
Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York,
Washington, and Vermont, plus Washington, D.C. Those living there have the
freedom to marry for same-sex couples. “In 2012, the legislature in New Jersey
passed a freedom to marry bill, and work is now underway to override the
governor's veto” (freedomtomarry.org). New Mexico and Rhode Island only respect
out-of-state marriages of same-sex couples, while nine states now offer protections
just short of marriage. Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, and Rhode Island
allow civil union, while California, Oregon, and Nevada offer broad domestic
partnership. Colorado and Wisconsin have more limited domestic partnership.
Seventeen percent of the U.S. population lives in a state that either has the freedom
to marry or honors out-of-state marriages of same-sex couples. Thirty-nine
percent of the U.S. population lives in a state with either marriage or a broad legal
status such as civil union or domestic partnership. Over two percent of the U.S.
population lives in a state that provides some form of protections for gay couples.
Now that different states have been making broad ranges of laws for same
sex marriage, the matter of who is to legalize these rights is becoming an important
issue. Gay marriage as a recent issue in the federal system has come about because
some states supported in part by court decisions, have acted to permit marriages
between gay and lesbian couples. “In response to these developments, President
George W. Bush and a group of congressional leaders have proposed an amendment
to the U.S. Constitution allowing marriage only between man and woman. Passage of
such an amendment would effectively remove from the states the power to
determine what constitutes a marriage” (DiClerico).
There is a strong battle for and against legalizing same sex marriage. Just as
intense, is the battle of who should have the right to declare these laws. It is now
time for our nation to choose their stance. President Bush was a very conservative
leader. Questions with past presidential candidates have aroused such as “Will they
take it to a federal level or will it be the state’s decision?” The future of gay marriage
weighs heavily on these controversies and how persuasive they are. We cannot
leave this argument unsettled. There is no was that same-sex marriages can be