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Marriage Equality

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Topics: Marriage
Marriage Equality 1

Marriage Equality Walter Boothe Jr. Axia College at The University of Phoenix

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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

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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

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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 Ake’s sermon was considered hate speech. Ministers throughout the United States fear that they could be subjected to a similar fate if same sex marriage is legalized. This is why many religious institutes solidly supported, and ultimately succeeded in the passing of Proposition 8. The city of San Francisco, in early 2008, began issuing same sex marriage licenses in violation of Proposition 22, California’s Defense of Marriage Act(DOMA Watch , 2009).Actions were filed in the California Supreme Court to sop San Francisco from issuing licenses to same sex couples and to declare the issued licenses invalid(DOMA Watch , 2009). The Supreme Court declared that California’s marriage statues were unconstitutional, and in April of 2008, The California Supreme Court, in a four to three decision, ruled that California recognized same sex marriage as a fundamental right (DOMA, 2009). While same sex couples were rushing to get married, a new law was being added to the ballot in California for the November election. Proposition 8, was the initiative to amend the California Constitution to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman (DOMA Watch, 2009).On November 4, 2008. Proposition

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8 was passed with more than the needed 60 percent of votes in favor of it, and officially ended same sex marriage in California (DOMA Watch, 2009). Though an appeal was filed, on March 4, 2009, the California Supreme Court upheld Proposition Eight. The passing of Prop 8 may have provided a wakeup call to those in the gay community who might have thought that gay couples only wanted to marry so that society could view their relationships to be as valid as hetero sexual ones. Issues that have been brought to the forefront are: social security, family insurance plans, and parental rights. These are civil rights issues that have nothing to do with the ecclesiastical origin of marriage (Bidstrup, 2009). These are matters that have become enshrined in state laws over the years in many ways that exclude gay people from the rights that legally married couples enjoy consider their constitutional rights (Bidstrup, 2009). In order to understand the outrage of many in the gay community regarding civil unions, one must first understand what a civil union is and what it offers same sex couples. A civil union is a legally recognized union, similar to marriage, established to provide same-sex couples with rights, benefits, and responsibilities similar to opposite sex marriage (Wikipedia, 2007). One might have noticed that the word equal does not appear anywhere within the definition of civil union. This is because the rights offered to same –sex couples in America through civil unions, are not equal to those offered to opposite –sex couples through traditional marriage.

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The differences in the rights offered to married hetero sexual couple and the rights of those offered to gay couples joined by civil unions is overwhelming. Proponents of same-sex marriage are outraged over these differences, which they view as violations of civil rights for a large group of American citizens. In 1997, The General Accounting Office, released a list of 1,049 benefits and protections available to heterosexual married couples, these benefits included survivor benefits through social security, tax breaks, and visiting one’s spouse in the hospital and making medical decisions if your partner is unable to (Belge, 2008).Though civil unions offer some of the listed benefits, they do not offer them all, especially the three aforementioned, which are of greatest concern to same-sex couples. Civil unions are not recognized by the federal government, so gay couples are unable to file joint –tax returns or be eligible for tax breaks or protections the government provides married couples (Belge, 2008). Likewise, due to the federal government not being required to recognize same-sex unions, gay widows and widowers are not entitled to receive survivor’s benefits through Social Security, when his or her partner dies (Belge, 2008).Gay people have no say so in medical decisions for hospitalized partners and legally can be denied the right to visit their partners hospital room, should the family request it (Bidstrup, 2009). These three examples alone give weight to the argument that civil unions are not equal to marriage.

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Small victories have been won, recently, in the fight for marriage equality in America. In its “Recognizing Gay Marriages from States Where They Are Legal” section (2009), Christianity Today magazine announced that on July 7, 2009, the District of Columbia passed a law that recognizes gay marriages from states where they are legal, and offers gay couples the same rights as heterosexual couples. Vermont, on September 1, 2009, officially legalized same –sex marriage with full and equal benefits (Wikipedia, 2009). This opens the door to hope that marriage equality for same-sex couples is one day offered throughout the United States. America was founded on the belief that all men are created equal; therefore, no one group should be denied the rights and privileges that are given to another. If what is in a name fuels the opposition for gay marriage, then call the union between two people of the same sex by some other name. Wait, it has been done already, but civil unions, in the minds of many gay couples further demonstrate our government’s disdain for gay people in general. Civil unions are separate, but not equal. If this is truly a country that believes that all men are created equal, then unions between partners of the same sex will offer them all of the rights of traditional marriage, or the definition of marriage is going to have to change in order to include all citizens of the United States.

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References

Goldstein, L. (2008), A Line in the Sand for Same Sex Foes. Retrieved August 18, 2009, from http://www.whatisprop8.com

Wikipedia. (2009). Civil Unions. Retrieved September 1, 2009,
From http://www.wikipedia.com/

DOMA Watch. (2009). Currently Legal Challenges/Recent Decisions. Retrieved August 12, 2009, from http://domawatch.org/currentchallenges.html

Bidstrup, S. (2009). Gay Marriage: The arguments and the Motives. Retrieved August 24, 2009, from http://www.bidstrup.com/marriagehtm

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Recognizing Gay Marriages from States Where They Are Legal. (2009, September). Christianity Today. 21(1), 53.9. Retrieved September 23, 2009, from Gale. Apollo Library.

Belge, K. (2008). The Difference Between Gay Marriage and Civil Unions. Retrieved
August 12, 2009, from http://lesbianlife.abou..com

Axia College Material
Appendix G

Peer Review Checklist*

What is the main point of this essay? | The main point of the essay was same sex marriage. | What is the greatest strength of this essay? | The great strength of the essay is the introduction. . | Does the introduction grab your interest and make you want to read on? Explain your answer. | Yes the introduction grabs your interest because you hear same sax marriage everyday. Just a great topic to led in the introduction | What material does not seem to fit the main point of the essay or does not seem to be appropriate for the audience? | The material in this essay fits just right this essay was A1 work. | Where should the author add more details or examples? Explain your answer. | In the middle of the essay where he speaks on same sex marriage could pose a threat to religious institutions in America, explain a little more of why same sex marriage will pose a threat. | Where is the writing unclear or vague? | The writing is unclear when he went all the way to a different country. But he worked him self back in the essay. | What is your favorite part of this piece of writing? | My favorite of the essay is the end where you “same sex marriage could pose a threat to religious institutions in America” | What other comments might you provide for the author? | Very good essay the author hit everything on the head and most important he stayed on topic. |

*Adapted from Reinking, J. A., Hart, A. W., & Von der Osten, R. (2001). Strategies for successful writing: A rhetoric, research guide, reader, and handbook (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
Final Project – Expository Essay

Content and Development 175 Points | Points Earned 170/175 | | Additional Comments: | All key elements of the assignment are covered in a substantive way. * The paper focuses on one of the following topics: * Healthful eating * Oil and gas prices * Education * Media in the courtroom * Cosmetic surgery * Tattoos or body piercing * Language in the United States * A topic approved by the instructor * The paper is an expository essay. * The paper is 1,500 to 1,750 words in length. * The paper includes a copy of the completed peer-review form. | You have covered all the key elements of the assignment.Your paper focuses on a topic of which we discussed and I approved.The paper is an expository essay, as opposed to a persuasive, or some other type of essay.Your paper is longer than the appropriate length, between 1500-1750 words.You have included a copy of your completed peer review form. | The content is comprehensive, accurate, and persuasive. | The content of your paper is thorough and accurate. You do a nice job of explaining your main point and expanding upon it throughout the paper. | The paper develops a central theme or idea directed toward the appropriate audience. | Your paper focuses on one central idea and develops it in a way that appropriate for your audience. | Major points are stated clearly; are supported by specific details, examples, or analysis; and are organized logically. * A list of at least two Internet references is included. | Your major points are clearly stated and it is easy to understand what you are attempting to get across to your audience. You support your points with details and examples from your research. Your points are organized in a logical manner and your paper has a nice flow to it. You have included at least two Internet references. | The introduction provides sufficient background on the topic, includes a thesis statement, and previews major points. | Your introduction expands upon your major point enough to give some background information. You also have a solid thesis statement and you give a glimpse as to what your major points will be. | The conclusion is logical, flows from the body of the paper, and reviews the major points. | Your conclusion flows nicely from your paper and you quickly review your major points to wrap up your essay nicely. | | | Readability and Style 38 Points | Points Earned38/38 | | Additional Comments: | Paragraph transitions are present, logical, and maintain the flow throughout the paper. | Your paragraphs transition nicely from one to the next with good transition words and topic sentences. | The tone is appropriate to the content and assignment. | In the way your paper is written, your tone is appropriate for the content and subject matter of your paper. Also, it is appropriate for your audience, whereas it is not either too simplified or condescending towards them. | Sentences are complete, clear, and concise. | Your sentences are complete and concise, with no fragments or run-ons. | Sentences are well constructed, with consistently strong, varied sentences. | You sentences vary in their length and complexity. | Sentence transitions are present and maintain the flow of thought. | Each sentence flows well from one to the other with proper transitions. | | | Mechanics 37 Points | Points Earned 37/37 | | Additional Comments: | The paper, including the title page and reference page, follows Axia College formatting guidelines. | Your paper conforms to proper Axia formatting standards. | Citations of original works within the body of the paper and the reference page follow APA standards. | Your paper conforms to proper APA style formatting in both in-text citations and reference page. | The paper is laid out with effective use of headings, font styles, and white space. | Your paper is appealing to the eye as it is laid out in a correct and logical way. It has the proper font, heading and margins. | Rules of grammar, usage, and punctuation are followed. | Your grammar is correct in that you use proper punctuation and formatting. | Spelling is correct. | Your spelling is correct throughout your paper. | | | Total 250 Points | Points Earned 245/250 | Overall Comments: Congratulations on completing your final paper and doing a great job on it. Good luck in future courses and keep up the good work. |

Citations: of original works within the body of the paper and the reference page follow APA standards. | Your paper conforms to proper APA style formatting in both in-text citations and reference page. | The paper is laid out with effective use of headings, font styles, and white space. | Your paper is appealing to the eye as it is laid out in a correct and logical way. It has the proper font, heading and margins. | Rules of grammar, usage, and punctuation are followed. | Your grammar is correct in that you use proper punctuation and formatting. | Spelling is correct. | Your spelling is correct throughout your paper. | | | Total 250 Points | Points Earned 245/250 | Overall Comments: Congratulations on completing your final paper and doing a great job on it. Good luck in future courses and keep up the good work. |

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