Dr. J. Onega
22 March 2013
It is unbelievable that our American Society is still having a debate about same-sex marriage. By denying same-sex partners the right to marry, the United States government is discriminating against them and their ability to access the social, legal, and economic benefits available exclusively to lawfully married couples. Banning same-sex marriages is nothing more than a violation of civil rights and the Supreme Court has already ruled that separate can never be equal. The Fourteenth Amendment to our nation’s constitution prohibits discrimination against a particular group of people because of their race or religion, however, homosexuals are denied the right to marry based on their sexual orientation. Same-sex couples face a number of unfair disadvantages due to the fact that they cannot legally marry and this situation must be remedied. Same-sex marriages should be legalized in every American state.
The number one reason most people disagree with same-sex marriages is that all major religions consider homosexuality a sin and that marriage is traditionally between one man and one woman. The First Amendment of the American Constitution protects every human being’s religious beliefs, or lack thereof. Marriage by the state is a secular activity. A marriage license originates from the county or municipal clerk, not a church, and the officiant acts as a representative of the state regardless of their religious background. There can be no religious argument against gay marriage allowed and the government cannot make laws based on religious beliefs. For hundreds, if not thousands, of years most cultures have defined marriage as the union between one man and one woman. The idea that gay marriage is a violation of an American tradition is unfair, false and old fashioned. Past American traditions included slavery, denial of rights to women, and racism. American history is full of stories of pioneers who fought to shatter these “traditions” and fight for expanding human rights and our country has been consistently better off because of it.
Many in opposition of same-sex marriage argue that the purpose of marriage is to procreate and that gay and lesbian couples are unable to produce children in the natural way. They fear that gay or lesbian marriages deny the primary purpose of marriage, which is the continuation of the human race and raising of children. A California Supreme Court ruling from1859 stated, “the first purpose of matrimony, by the laws of nature and society, is procreation” and there is a concern that the human population will dwindle if same-sex marriages are legalized. If one were to seriously consider this argument, marriage law would change drastically. Infertile couples would never be permitted to marry whether the infertility is due to age, health problems, or sterilization. Laws would be passed that would prohibit married couples from remaining childless voluntarily. Contraception and abortion would have to be outlawed and couples would be required by law to adopt orphaned children without stable homes or families. This reasoning is ridiculous; procreation is not the sole purpose of a marriage. The law allows elderly couples, infertile persons, and prisoners to be married although they are unable to produce a child. In our modern society marriage actually has very little to do with procreation. Gay and lesbian couples are going to adopt or have children if they want them whether or not they are married. Unmarried straight people have children and there are numerous heterosexual couples who simply choose not to have children.
Those who oppose same-sex marriage argue that children of gay or lesbian parents cannot possibly receive a “normal” upbringing and are more likely to experience social and emotional problems due to their non-traditional family situation. There is a concern that these children will be bullied by their peers and grow up confused about their own sexuality as a result of not having a conventional heterosexual two-parent situation. Studies are being conducted to determine the well-being of children with homosexual parents but as you can imagine, the results vary widely depending on who is conducting the research. Opponents of same-sex families insist that girls raised without a father are at higher risk for early sexual experimentation and teenage pregnancy and those children raised without a mother are deprived of emotional security. Children of homosexual couples are reported to be at higher risk for anxiety, depression, more likely to be abused or engage in unhealthy habits such as promiscuity, drinking, or drug use. Same-sex marriage supporters will present study results that show children of gay or lesbian parents to be smarter, happier, and more successful in their adult lives. In 2007 a study conducted by the Williams Institute and the Urban Institute found that 65,000 adopted children and 14,000 foster children were living with same-sex parents. In a world where it can be difficult to find families for the hundreds of thousands foster children who are freed for adoption, it is hard to ignore the studies reporting that over a million homosexual individuals are interested in adopting. In one of the largest unbiased studies, researchers from the University of Melbourne tracked 315 same-sex parents and their more than 500 children. While there were positive and negative aspects reported, in terms of general health and family cohesion, children of same-sex parents scored higher than their peers in traditional families. The bottom line is this: Children can be successfully raised in many different parenting situations. Each family unit is different and the situations they face in daily life vary drastically. The parents, regardless of their genders, determine the well-being of the child. Is it more harmful for a child to be raised in an inconsistent foster situation or to have two homosexual parents who are willing to provide love and a stable home environment?
In conclusion, the arguments against gay marriage just do not make sense. Many anti-gay marriage arguments involve religion, but society cannot impose their religious ideals on others who do not share them or believe in them. The Declaration of Independence gives Americans the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Alaskan Senator, Lisa Murkowski, released a statement on gay marriage and asks, “What could be more important to the pursuit of happiness than the right to choose your spouse without asking a Washington politician for permission?” Marriage is a right in our country and no one should be allowed to withhold that right based on discrimination. Legalizing gay marriage can only make things better, not worse as so many fear. Legalize same sex marriage because it is harmless, it is inevitable, it is more conducive to family life and it is what our history is instructing us to do.
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