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same-sex marriage

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Pro/Con: same-sex marriage
By Kyle Harvey, Tabitha Cassidy
Published: April 16th, 2013
EDITORS NOTE: In lieu of the Champion’s weekly “From the Desk” article, we present a debate on the topic of same-sex marriage. Along with the recent Supreme Court deliberation of the Defense of Marriage Act has come credible arguments from both sides. Though both of this article’s contributors are members of the Champion staff, the views presented are solely their own and do not reflect the official viewpoint of the newspaper or Liberty University itself.
Christians are called to love, not to judge
With the recent news that two same-sex marriage cases made it to the Supreme Court, people have been angrily voicing their opinions on both sides of the debate.
As a Bible-believing Christian, I feel much pressure from my conservative friends to begin protesting against the “atrocity” of homosexual marriage.

Cassidy
However, as an independent thinker, my mind leads me elsewhere.
I support same-sex marriage. While this notion might get me shunned in certain circles that would otherwise welcome me with open arms, I stand firm in my opinion.
Before you gather your pitchforks and quote the Bible, let me explain.
Believing that homosexuality is correct and allowing two people to sign a contract claiming that they will not separate are two different matters.
The first deals not only with biblical faith and conviction, but also common sense.
Obviously, humans were not physically created to be homosexual. The secular individuals who claim that they were are refuted by their very own evolutionary belief system. We have all had the birds and the bees talk, and we all know that two members of the same sex cannot procreate to complete the species-sustaining life that evolutionists claim is the only purpose of existence.
For Christians, understanding that homosexuality is unnatural is much easier to accept than not, but that viewpoint also comes with bigotry and a misunderstanding of the biblical truth that we so often quote.
Same-gender coitus is a sin, yes. But just as Jesus showed us with a bit of writing in the sand and the pardoning of an adulterous woman in John 8, only he has the authority to judge.
Everyone has sinned, and all sins are equal in the Lord’s eyes, because they are all perversions of original perfection. Consider yourself — you liars, cheaters, those with impure thoughts — on an equal playing field with homosexuality.
Now that the notion of homosexuality being unnatural is addressed, allow me to describe the differences between this egotistical belief that humans have the authority to deny anyone anything based on faith, and why Christians do indeed have the right to protest against same-sex marriage.
The connotations that come with the term “marriage” have interesting implications.
While I have neither the knowledge nor the space to address the complete history of marriage, I can say this: marriage, as it has been practiced in the industrial, Western world, originated as a religious affair.
It is true that other cultures outside of Christianity and Judaism have had semblances of marriage. However, at its founding, the United States primarily discussed marriage as the joining of two people — one man and one woman — under God.
It is here that those spewing hate toward Christians get lost.
Under God, a man and another man joining together as one is an “abomination.” Christians try to stay as true to the Bible as we possibly can, and as clear as the writing on the wall was, the forbidding of homosexual relationships shines through much of the Old Testament.
However, Christians do not understand that many of these same-sex marriage proposals are purely for equal treatment in society and are not meant to be religious affairs.
Protests against same-sex marriage on the basis of marriage being a biblical tradition might have held some ground in this debate had Christians kept true to the notion that marriage is the union of one man and one woman under God.
Once we allowed marriage to become a secular tradition open to atheists and agnostics alike, we made it available to all people. It became an equal-rights debate determined by the government, and not the joining of two lives in the name of God.
Should same-sex marriage be made a legality, it should not be performed in the church, under God, as God would not approve of such a union.
However, legally being married should be of no concern to anyone other than the two parties at hand.
As Christians, we need to practice what Jesus showed us better than anyone else — love.
Not all Christians are bigots who only wish to seek retribution for something they know little about. Likewise, not all non-believers are Christian-hating atheists who wish only to crucify us.
In democracy, Christians should vote for God’s laws
As a Bible-believing Christian, God’s word defines my view of everything, including same-sex marriage.
I admit that I am not a free thinker. My worldview is narrow-minded. I read my Bible, and I do what it says to the best of my ability. I am a slave to Christ. I understand it is not popular.

Harvey
In Romans 1, the apostle Paul wrote to the Roman church, addressing sin in the culture.
In verse 24, Paul established the root of homosexuality: “… they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator…” (ESV)
In verse 25, Paul concludes that those evil desires are at odds with God’s natural order: “God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another…” (ESV)
Verse 26 escalates the consequences of sin: “Men committed shameless acts with men and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.” (ESV)
What we are witnessing in American culture today is the same thing that Paul saw in Roman culture.
Some may read this and say that arguing against homosexuality is sidestepping the issue of marriage rights, but the two are inseparable.
In a democracy, the people decide laws based on what they believe to be true. Why would Christians not use an opportunity to cast votes to support biblical truths? If we are a democracy, what makes anything we — or anyone else — have to say any more or less valid in the public square?
It is a question of how badly Christians desire to see God’s institutions supported by their government. Should we not desire the best laws?
For Christians to endorse or condone the practice of same-sex marriage is an unnecessary departure from the pursuit of holiness. To count homosexuality as a sin and yet affirm same-sex marriage is a contradiction.
Call it freedom of choice, freedom of religion, freedom of speech or civil rights — whatever you like. The fact is, the American people have created a culture where the truth looks wrong, and sin looks normal — in the name of progress.
To accept truth as relative to society’s whims is letting sinners decide — whether in court or at the ballot box — what is moral.
Neither Christians nor non-Christians created morality — God did.
The consequence of an individual’s sin is death, but God judges society too. For evidence, check out the stories of Sodom and Gomorrah, or that of Noah and the rest of the planet.
America already has a shameful record of departing from God-given institutions. Embracing evolution, for instance, has devalued life in America.
A lower view of life has lead to decisions made in the name of “choice” and “reproductive rights” that have allowed for the merciless killing of millions of unborn babies.
Same-sex marriage will have far-reaching implications. Outside of complicated and expensive procedures that circumvent nature, same-sex unions will not produce children. As a result, the nuclear family will decline.
The other column brought up John 8. A liberal Christian will examine the way Jesus handled the situation and deduce that the message is for Christians not to judge others.
This is a correct deduction, but to suggest that to avoid casting judgment requires accepting sin is not correct.
In John 8:10, Jesus says, ‘Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?’ ‘No, Lord,’ she said. And Jesus said, ‘Neither do I. Go and sin no more.’”
How do we fit Jesus’ admonition to “sin no more” into our decision to simply accept others’ sinful choices?
The beauty of what Jesus did in his gentle rebuke was the fact that he offered redemption. That redemption is available to all people — homosexual and straight — when we turn from our sin and place our faith in Jesus.
If we truly believe, as the Bible teaches in Romans 6:23, that the wages of sin is death, then is not calling sin, sin the most compassionate thing we can do for the world? Supporting laws that legitimize homosexuality will not help people recognize their error.
It may be unwelcome now, but I believe it is the far more merciful thing to warn someone who is walking off a cliff than to ignore their plight in the name of freedom of religion and watch them plunge right over it. 6 Comments

The author in support of same-sex marriage doesn’t do a very good job of defining what marriage is. It seems that all she is supporting is some kind of contractual agreement between two parties for a purely legal purpose. Unfortunately that definition is not what is being pursued and it is not what she is supporting by her assent to their cause.
The same-sex marriage lobbies are certainly looking to have their ceremonies performed in a church under the sign of the cross. They will not settle for anything less. The legal contractual agreement has been established in many states, but without fail the same-sex marriage lobbies pushed for more – namely “marriage.”
They want to have cultural acceptance, not a civil arrangement. They want to have marriage (that, however, is impossible because same-sex marriage is a contradiction of terms.
Marriage – everywhere and in all times it has been practiced – is a union of one man and one woman for life. It is unprecedented to try to change that very basic definition. So what the author is really advocating in her piece is oxymoronic.
It is also a very poor witness. To hold to the claim that same-sex sexual relations are sinful, and yet to legitimize them by inventing a new form of marriage is self-defeating. If you want to reach out to people and love them, then you must speak up and speak out against the things that will condemn them to hell (namely sin). The author listed several other sins which are on par with homosexual intercourse – I would add theft to her list. (Let me think about where these two are mentioned together in the Bible – 1 Corinthians 6:9-11)
Theft is a sin, and it will separate those who practice it from the Kingdom of Heaven. Should we call theft sin? Yes, we should. Would the author advocate for making theft legal? Of course not. But what about online piracy? Would she legitimize that form of theft? There are many who would, and yet call themselves Christians.
The problem with legitimizing or legalizing theft in the form of online piracy is that you are calling sin good. The Bible clearly warns against that. It will also give those who are committing the sin a false sense of innocence when they are really guilty.
So my point is this: If you legitimize homosexual intercourse in the form of marriage you are calling that which is evil good. The Bible clearly warns against this. Furthermore, you will give those who are engaging in homosexual intercourse a false sense of innocence and they will not come to repentance. This is the most hateful thing you can possibly do.
I do think it is the most hateful thing you can possibly do. These men and women who are living in depraved lifestyles will be condemned to hell forever if they do not repent. Think about how horrific that is. They will burn eternally in a lake of fire. That is horrific. (Re-watch Convocation from 4/22/13 – Tony Nolan)
We must hold up the word of God and show the way of salvation! That is our duty. Stand firm and hold up the truth. Defend the truth. Show the truth. This is the way of love. It is the only way to bring them to salvation – through truth. To call what they do marriage is to lie. To say it is not that bad and that they will be ok is a lie. To lie to them and condemn their souls to hell is evil.
Hold up the word of truth. Gently and honestly tell them what they are doing is wrong and that they will be punished. For an example of how to do this, re-watch convocation from 3/29/13 (Kay Arthur).
Comment by Sean — April 22, 2013 @ 4:55 pm

Dear Ms. Tabitha Cassidy,
I agree that as Christians we need to make a better effort of reflecting God’s love toward homosexuals, and that dialogue is often missing in Christian circles. After all, we are all sinners in need of God’s grace (1 Timothy 1:15). However, we are not called to just be one-dimensional Christians who only love, but we are also called to share God’s grace and truth in its full context.
Now, I am not going to pick up a stone or run for my pitchfork (I don’t have one since I’m from Jersey :) , but I will certainly run to God’s Word for guidance, which is wise (Proverbs 4; Ps 119-127-28). When we rely on our own words or thoughts they are often flawed (Isaiah 55:6-9) and result in problems. What we need is for God’s words of love and truth to permeate more than our own words (Ephesians 4:14-15).
As a matter of fact, the central issue here doesn’t revolve around Christians, as much as it does around homosexuals. What matters here is the impact this position has on homosexuals, what is in their best interests, and what is beneficial to our society as a whole. There is one problem with the premise of your argument here, it assumes that by condoning homosexuality and supporting same-sex marriage that we are loving homosexuals, but in fact that’s not the truth. When we recognize that a sinful behavior exists and don’t seek to set the captives free (Isaiah 42:6-8), we are allowing homosexuals to remain under the bondage of the devil. When we do this we are actually harming homosexuals rather than loving them (1 Corinthians 13:6). The same can be said for polygamy, alcoholism, pedophilia, lust, etc. To love homosexuals and any other sinner is to actually speak truth in love and warn them that the sinful lifestyle that they are living in is actually destructive and deceitfully not in their best interests. Not only for this life, but eternally!
During my last three years here at Liberty, both through FB and my interactions with friends on campus, I have really come to notice this problem that we have as Christians of failing to share the fullness of God’s truth in its proper context. If this is the measure of the Church in the future, then we are really in trouble and will fall short of fulfilling the mission that God has called us to of sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
May God speak to each of us through His Word and the power of His Holy Spirit so that we can sincerely reflect His truth in love!
Sincerely,
David A.
3L Student
Comment by David — April 24, 2013 @ 12:57 am

Very well thought out and explained. Great job!
Comment by DL Dotson — April 30, 2013 @ 11:18 pm

Thanks to the separation of church an state, the government will never be able to force churches to perform Gay marriages, and churches will never be able to force the government not to recognize Gay marriage. Problem solved.
Comment by Chuck Anziulewicz — August 10, 2013 @ 11:04 am

It is happening, as I knew it would. My Alma Mater is turning the corner toward liberalism. Love is not shown by ignoring sin. What happened to that idea of being the salt of the earth which was espoused by some great savior named Jesus Christ? I truly have neither the time or energy tonight to go deeper in this commentary. Suffice it to say that if Dr. Falwell were still in his grave, he would be rolling over.
For same-sex couples living in California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, same-sex marriage is now a reality. If you live in any of these states, you and your partner have a decision to make that same-sex couples have never had to make before: whether marriage is right for you.
Civil unions are available in Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, and New Jersey, and while they offer almost all of the benefits of marriage, couples in civil unions who are not legally married don’t qualify for federal benefits such as tax benefits or Social Security benefits. Delaware, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire and Connecticut had civil unions, but with the legalization of same-sex marriage in each of these states, valid civil unions have been (or will be) merged or converted into marriages.
A few other states – Oregon, Nevada, and Wisconsin– offer only domestic partnerships (or something similar,) but they provide limited rights that don't really approximate marriage. Still, for folks living in these and other states, it's never too early to think about what you might do if new relationship options become available where you live. With all major polls now showing that a majority of Americans supports same-sex marriage, the marriage equality battle in many states is just beginning – same-sex marriage bills are coming up for vote in several states, and a few same-sex marriage cases will be decided soon in various state supreme courts. (For up-to-date information, see Same-Sex Marriage: Developments in the Law.)
Factors to Consider
Here are some things to consider as you think about how you want to structure your relationship.
Having children. In most cases, if you have children or hope to raise a family, getting married is probably the right choice. Both partners in a married couple have the same rights and responsibilities to raise and support children of the relationship, and in a divorce, both can seek visitation and custody. If one parent dies, the other one steps right in as the primary legal parent. It's pretty difficult to make these sorts of arrangements absent a legal marriage or a second parent or stepparent adoption. (To learn about second parent or stepparent adoptions, read Nolo's article Gay and Lesbian Adoption and Parenting.)
Jointly owning property. Marriage isn't a prerequisite for owning property together, but if you get married, in most situations your property will be jointly owned regardless of who paid for it. This is the reverse of the presumption that applies to unmarried couples. Getting married may be the most efficient way of establishing a property merger. If keeping things separate is more to your taste, you will have to sign a prenuptial agreement to avoid the joint ownership presumptions of a legal marriage. (To learn more about prenuptial agreements, see the Prenuptial Agreement area of Nolo's website.)
Splitting up property. In many states, each married spouse's earnings are owned by the two of you, and, if the marriage breaks up -- regardless of who's at fault -- you each generally get half of everything you've accumulated. By contrast, if you are unmarried, your property is co-owned only if you have an agreement to that effect, and likewise for debts and obligations. Divorcing spouses are also entitled to seek alimony if the marriage doesn't last, without the need for any explicit contract providing for post-separation support.
Formalities. Every marriage requires a formal ceremony, and every marital separation requires some kind of formal court action -- and quite often the help of a lawyer. Unmarried couples can break up informally, on their own terms.
Inheritance and death taxes. Without a legal marriage, a couple needs to sign several agreements to create even a partial framework of protection in the event of death, and certain tax benefits are forever denied to unmarried couples.
If you are married, however, the surviving spouse generally inherits all the property if his or her spouse dies without a will, and the surviving spouse does not have to pay inheritance and gift taxes.
Until recently, same-sex married couples were not able to benefit from the exemption from inheritance and gift taxes, but under the June 26, 2013 Supreme Court Decision in U.S. v. Windsor, same-sex couples are considered legally married for federal purposes and now qualify for federal benefits, including immigration status, Social Security benefits, and laws exempting married couples from inheritance taxes and gift taxes just as opposite-married couples do.
To learn more about the Windsor case, see Same Sex Married Couples Will Soon Receive Federal Benefits.
However, some federal agencies, such as the Social Security Administration, use a married couple's place of residence (where the couple lives) to determine wether the couple is in a valid marriage and therefore eligible for federal benefits. As a result, same-sex couples living in one of the 14 jurisdictions that recognize same-sex marriage will qualify for Social Security benefits based on their spouses' work records, while those living in non-recognition states will not.
Eligibility for immigration status, federal employee benefits and military benefits is not determined by place of residence, but rather by place of celebration (where the marriage was performed). As long as the marriage was legally entered into in any U.S. state, the District of Columbia, a U.S. territory, or a foreign country that recognizes same-sex marriage, same-sex married couples will qualify for these benefits.
After the Windsor decision, there was a lot of concern and speculation about whether the IRS would recognize same-sex married couples living in non-recognition states. But in August 2013, the U.S. Treasury Department ruled that all same-sex couples that are legally married in any U.S. state, the District of Columbia, a U.S. territory or a foreign country will be recognized as married under all federal tax provisions where marriage is a factor. This includes provisions governing: filing status personal and dependency exemptions standard deductions employee benefits
IRA contributions the earned income tax credit, and the child tax credit.
The Treasury Department further clarified that federal recognition for tax purposes applies whether a same-sex married couple lives in a jurisdiction that recognizes same-sex marriage (such as California) or a non-recognition jurisdiction (such as Texas).
Transfer taxes. In theory, transfers of property upon dissolution of the relationship are tax-free for legally married couples, but not for unmarrieds. Under Windsor, same-sex married couples are able to make such spousal transfers tax-free.
Government benefits. Marriage can bestow a bevy of important benefits, including military or Social Security benefits, health care benefits, and nursing home coverage. Marriage may also qualify you for unpaid leave from your job under the Family Leave Act. (To learn more about this Act, read Nolo's article Taking Family and Medical Leave.) However, be aware that a married person's income could disqualify a spouse from receiving Social Security, welfare, or medical benefits. As stated above, some of these benefits are limited to same-sex couples living in recognition states.
Immigration. A legal marriage is the only reliable method of providing a foreign partner with the privileges of immigration to this country if the person doesn't qualify under work or other provisions of the Immigration Act.
Making the Decision to Marry or Not
If you need to make a decision about how to structure your relationship, first decide whether you fall into one of the got-to-marry or better-not-marry situations. Raising kids or facing a serious illness, for example, generally favors a marriage (unless it disqualifies you for Medicaid), whereas getting saddled with your partner's debts or losing Social Security benefits probably favors a no vote.
If you don't find yourself at either extreme, take a close look at the marital property rules for your state, evaluate the benefits and burdens given your personal situation, and get a good sense of what being married would do for you financially.
Then, consider whether being married feels right for both of you emotionally. If the answers come back positive for both of you, then proceed, but consider creating a prenuptial agreement if any aspect of the traditional marriage structure doesn't meet your needs. If the impact of marriage feels unduly negative for one or both of you, however, maybe you should hold off.

Pro & Con Arguments: "Should Gay Marriage Be Legal?"
PRO Gay Marriage

Same-sex couples should be allowed to publicly celebrate their commitment in the same way as heterosexual couples. [40] The Human Rights Campaign Foundation states that many same-sex couples "want the right to legally marry [and] honor their relationship in the greatest way our society has to offer..."

Same-sex couples should have access to the same benefits enjoyed by heterosexual married couples. Many benefits are only available to married couples, such as hospital visitation during an illness, taxation and inheritance rights, access to family health coverage, and protection in the event of the relationship ending. [6] An Oct. 2, 2009 analysis by the New York Times estimates that a same-sex couple denied marriage benefits will incur an additional $41,196 to $467,562 in expenses over their lifetime compared to a married heterosexual couple. [7]

The concept of "traditional marriage" being defined as one man and one woman is historically inaccurate. Given the prevalence of modern and ancient examples of family arrangements based on polygamy, communal child-rearing, the use of concubines and mistresses and the commonality of prostitution, heterosexual monogamy can be considered "unnatural” in evolutionary terms. [3]

Marriage is redefined as society's attitudes evolve, and the majority of Americans now support gay marriage. Interracial marriage was illegal in many US states until a 1967 Supreme Court decision. Coverture, where a woman's legal rights and economic identity were subsumed by her husband upon marriage, was commonplace in 19th century America. No-fault divorce has changed the institution of marriage since its introduction in California on Jan. 1, 1970. With a May 2013 Gallup poll showing 53% of Americans supporting gay marriage, it is time for the definition of marriage to evolve once again. [72]

Gay marriage is protected by the Constitution's commitments to liberty and equality. The US Supreme Court ruled in 1974’s Cleveland Board of Education v. LaFleur that the "freedom of personal choice in matters of marriage and family life is one of the liberties protected by the Due Process Clause.” US District Judge Vaughn Walker wrote on Aug. 4, 2010 that Prop. 8 in California banning gay marriage was "unconstitutional under both the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses." [41]

Denying same-sex couples the right to marry stigmatizes gay and lesbian families as inferior and sends the message that it is acceptable to discriminate against them. The Massachusetts Supreme Court wrote in an opinion to the state Senate on Feb. 3, 2004 that offering civil unions was not an acceptable alternative to gay marriage because "...it is a considered choice of language that reflects a demonstrable assigning of same-sex, largely homosexual, couples to second-class status." [42]

Gay marriages can bring financial gain to state and local governments. Revenue from gay marriage comes from marriage licenses, higher income taxes (the so-called "marriage penalty"), and decreases in costs for state benefit programs. [4] The Comptroller for New York City found that legalizing gay marriage would bring $142 million to the city’s economy and $184 million to the state’s economy over three years. [43]

Gay marriage would make it easier for same-sex couples to adopt, providing stable homes for children who would otherwise be left in foster care. [68] In the US, 100,000 children are waiting to be adopted. [44] A longitudinal study published in Pediatrics on June 7, 2010 found that children of lesbian mothers were rated higher than children of heterosexual parents in social and academic competence and had fewer social problems. [45] A July 2010 study found that children of gay fathers were "as well-adjusted as those adopted by heterosexual parents." [46] As Washington Post columnist Ezra Klein argues, "We should be begging gay couples to adopt children. We should see this as a great boon that gay marriage could bring to kids who need nothing more than two loving parents." [68]

Marriage provides both physical and psychological health benefits, and banning gay marriage increases rates of psychological disorders. [5] The American Psychological Association, American Psychiatric Association, and others wrote in a Sep. 2007 amicus brief, "...allowing same-sex couples to marry would give them access to the social support that already facilitates and strengthens heterosexual marriages, with all of the psychological and physical health benefits associated with that support.” [47] A 2010 analysis published in the American Journal of Public Health found that after their states had banned gay marriage, gay, lesbian and bisexual people suffered a 37% increase in mood disorders, a 42% increase in alcohol-use disorders, and a 248% increase in generalized anxiety disorders. [69]

Legalizing gay marriage will not harm heterosexual marriages or "family values," and society will continue to function successfully. A study published on Apr. 13, 2009 in Social Science Quarterly found that "[l]aws permitting same-sex marriage or civil unions have no adverse effect on marriage, divorce, and abortion rates, [or] the percent of children born out of wedlock..." [48] The Executive Board of the American Anthropological Association found that more than a century of research has shown "no support whatsoever for the view that either civilization or viable social orders depend upon marriage as an exclusively heterosexual institution. Rather, anthropological research supports the conclusion that a vast array of family types, including families built upon same-sex partnerships, can contribute to stable and humane societies." [8]

Marriage is a secular institution which should not be limited by religious objections to gay marriage. Nancy Cott, PhD, testified in Perry v. Schwarzenegger that "[c]ivil law has always been supreme in defining and regulating marriage" and that religious leaders are accustomed to performing marriages only because the state has given them that authority. [41]

Gay marriage legalization is correlated with lower divorce rates, while gay marriage bans are correlated with higher divorce rates. Massachusetts, which became the first state to legalize gay marriage in 2004, had the lowest divorce rate in the country in 2008. Its divorce rate declined 21% between 2003 and 2008. Alaska, which altered its constitution to prohibit gay marriage in 1998, saw a 17.2% increase in its divorce rate. The seven states with the highest divorce rates between 2003 and 2008 all had constitutional prohibitions to gay marriage. [2]

If the reason for marriage is strictly reproduction, infertile couples would not be allowed to marry. Ability or desire to create offspring has never been a qualification for marriage. George Washington, often referred to as "the Father of Our Country,” did not have children with his wife Martha Custis, and neither did four other married US presidents have children with their wives. [9]

Same-sex marriage is a civil right. The 1967 Supreme Court case Loving v. Virginia confirmed that marriage is "one of the basic civil rights of man," [60] and same-sex marriages should receive the same protections given to interracial marriages by that ruling. The NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), on May 19, 2012, named same-sex marriage as "one of the key civil rights struggles of our time." [61]
CON Gay Marriage

The institution of marriage has traditionally been defined as between a man and a woman. In the Oct. 15, 1971 decision Baker v. Nelson, the Supreme Court of Minnesota found that "The institution of marriage as a union of man and woman, uniquely involving the procreation and rearing of children within a family, is as old as the book of Genesis.” [49]

Allowing gay couples to wed will further weaken the institution of marriage. Traditional marriage is already threatened with high divorce rates (between 40% and 50%) and with 40.6% of babies being born to unmarried mothers in 2008. Allowing same-sex couples to marry would further weaken the institution. [50] [51] As argued by Ryan T. Anderson, William E. Simon Fellow in Religion and a Free Society at The Heritage Foundation, "In recent decades, marriage has been weakened by a revisionist view that is more about adults’ desires than children’s needs... Redefining marriage to include same-sex relationships is the culmination of this revisionism, and it would leave emotional intensity as the only thing that sets marriage apart from other bonds." [70]

Gay marriage could potentially lead down a "slippery slope" giving people in polygamous, incestuous, bestial, and other nontraditional relationships the right to marry. [10] Glen Lavy, JD, senior counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund, argued in a May 21, 2008 Los Angeles Times Op-Ed, "The movement for polygamy and polyamory is poised to use the successes of same-sex couples as a springboard for further de-institutionalizing marriage." [11] In April 2013, Slate published a plea for legal polygamy by writer Jillian Keenan: "Just like heterosexual marriage is no better or worse than homosexual marriage, marriage between two consenting adults is not inherently more or less 'correct' than marriage among three (or four, or six) consenting adults." [71]

People should not have their tax dollars used to support something they believe is wrong. Gay marriage would entitle gay couples to typical marriage benefits including claiming a tax exemption for a spouse, receiving social security payments from a deceased spouse, and coverage by a spouse’s health insurance policy. On Dec. 17, 2009, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the cost to the federal government of extending employment benefits to same-sex domestic partners of certain federal employees (making no mention of additional costs such as Social Security and inheritance taxes) would be $596 million in mandatory spending and $302 million in discretionary spending between 2010 and 2019. [37]

Gay marriage may lead to more children being raised in same-sex households, which are not an optimum environment because children need both a mother and father. Girls who are raised apart from their fathers are reportedly at higher risk for early sexual activity and teenage pregnancy. [52] Children without a mother are deprived of the emotional security and unique advice that mothers provide. An Apr. 2001 study published in American Sociological Review suggesed that children with lesbian or gay parents are more likely to engage in homosexual behavior. [53] In the 1997 book Growing up in a Lesbian Family: Effects on Child Development, Fiona Tasker, PhD, and Susan Golombok, PhD, observed that 25% of sampled young adults raised by lesbian mothers had engaged in a homoerotic relationship, compared to 0% of sampled young adults raised by heterosexual mothers. [13]

Gay marriage will accelerate the assimilation of gays into mainstream heterosexual culture to the detriment of the homosexual community. The gay community has created its own vibrant culture. By reducing the differences in opportunities and experiences between gay and heterosexual people, this unique culture may cease to exist. As M.V. Lee Badgett, PhD summarizes, "marriage means adopting heterosexual forms of family and giving up distinctively gay family forms and perhaps even gay and lesbian culture." [14]

The institution of marriage is sexist and oppressive; it should not be expanded but weakened. Paula Ettelbrick, JD, Professor of Law and Women's Studies, wrote in 1989, "Marriage runs contrary to two of the primary goals of the lesbian and gay movement: the affirmation of gay identity and culture and the validation of many forms of relationships." [15] The leaders of the Gay Liberation Front in New York said in July 1969, "We expose the institution of marriage as one of the most insidious and basic sustainers of the system. The family is the microcosm of oppression.” [16]

Same-sex marriage has undermined the institution of marriage in Scandinavia. Sweden began offering same-sex couples benefits in 1987, followed by Denmark in 1989 and Norway in 1993. According to a Feb. 29, 2004 report by Stanley Kurtz, PhD, from 1990 to 2000, Norway's out-of-wedlock birthrate rose from 39% to 50% and Sweden's rose from 47% to 55%. Unmarried parenthood in Denmark rose 25% during the 1990s, and approximately 60% of first born Danish children have unmarried parents. As Kurtz states, "Marriage is slowly dying in Scandinavia." [17]

Marriage is a privilege, not a right. Society can choose to endorse certain types of sexual arrangements and give support in the form of benefits to these arrangements. Marriage was created to allow society to support heterosexual couples in procreation and society can choose not to give the same benefits to same-sex couples. [18]

Marriage should not be extended to same-sex couples because they cannot produce children together. Allowing gay marriage would only further shift the purpose of marriage from producing and raising children to adult gratification. [19]

Marriage is a religious rite between one man and one woman. According to a July 31, 2003 statement from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and approved by Pope John Paul II, marriage "was established by the Creator with its own nature, essential properties and purpose. No ideology can erase from the human spirit the certainty that marriage exists solely between a man and a woman…” [54]

Gay marriage is incompatible with the beliefs, sacred texts, and traditions of many religious groups. The Catholic Church, Presbyterian Church, Islam, United Methodist Church, Southern Baptist Convention, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, National Association of Evangelicals, and American Baptist Churches USA all oppose same-sex marriage. Expanding marriage to include same-sex couples may lead to churches being forced to marry couples and children being taught in school that same-sex marriage is the same as opposite-sex marriage. [12]

Same-sex marriage is not a civil rights issue, and conflating the issue with interracial marriage is misleading. Matthew D. Staver, JD, Dean of the Liberty University School of Law, explained: "The unifying characteristics of the protected classes within the Civil Rights Act of 1964 include (1) a history of longstanding, widespread discrimination, (2) economic disadvantage, and (3) immutable characteristics... 'Sexual orientation' does not meet any of the three objective criteria shared by the historically protected civil rights categories." [62]
Background: "Should Gay Marriage Be Legal?"
Same-sex marriage supporters protest the passage of Proposition 8 in front of San Francisco City Hall.
(click to enlarge image)
Same-sex marriage supporters protest the passage of Proposition 8 in front of San Francisco City Hall.
Source: Darryl Bush, www.ap.org, Nov. 15, 2008As of Jan. 6, 2014, gay marriage has been legalized in 17 US states (CA, CT, DE, HI, IA, IL, MA, MD, ME, MN, NH, NJ, NM, NY, RI, VT, and WA) and the District of Columbia. 33 states have gay marriage bans through either laws or constitutional amendments or both.

Proponents argue that same-sex couples should have access to the same marriage benefits and public acknowledgment enjoyed by heterosexual couples and that prohibiting gay marriage is unconstitutional discrimination.

Opponents argue that altering the traditional definition of marriage as between a man and a woman will further weaken a threatened institution and that legalizing gay marriage is a slippery slope that may lead to polygamous and interspecies marriages.

The gay rights movement in the US can be traced back to the Stonewall Riots that occurred following a police raid on the Stonewall Inn in New York City at 3 a.m. on June 28, 1969. Police raids on gay bars were commonplace, but on this occasion the gay and lesbian patrons fought back and sparked days of protests. The Stonewall Riots marked the beginning of a political movement for gay rights during a time when it was illegal to have homosexual sex in all states except for Illinois. [21] Between 1969 and 1974, the number of gay organizations in the country swelled from fewer than 50 to nearly a thousand. [22]

Gay-rights activism in the 1970s focused more on personal liberation and visibility than on gaining access to institutions such as marriage. While some gay activists sought the right to marry in the early 1970s, others rejected marriage as "heterosexist” and saw it as an outdated institution. [23] The gay liberation movement achieved a victory in Dec. 1973 when the American Psychiatric Association declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder and the American Psychological Association did the same in 1975. [24]
Timeline of Same-Sex Marriage Bans and Legalizations by Effective Date of Laws
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Timeline of Same-Sex Marriage Bans and Legalizations by Effective Date of Laws
Source: "17 States with Legal Gay Marriage and 33 States with Same-Sex Marriage Bans," ProCon.org, Dec. 23, 2013
The increased visibility of the gay community prompted a well publicized backlash by opponents of gay-rights. One high-profile opponent of gay rights was singer and former Miss Oklahoma Anita Bryant who founded the group Save Our Children and campaigned to repeal local ordinances that prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation. During the 1980s, news of the AIDS epidemic increased homophobia and discrimination but also encouraged the gay community to further organize. Following the news that actor Rock Hudson was dying of AIDS, attitudes towards both AIDS and the gay community started to shift. In 1983, Congressman Gerry Studds (D-MA) became the first openly gay Congressman, followed by Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA) in 1987. [23]

The current national debate on gay marriage was sparked by the Supreme Court of Hawaii’s 3-1 ruling on May 5, 1993 that the state could not ban same-sex marriages without "a compelling reason” to do so. [55] The case was sent back to a lower court but voters approved a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage before the courts settled the issue. Although a gay marriage was never performed in Hawaii, the issue gained national attention and prompted over 40 states over the next decade to pass Defense of Marriage Acts (DOMAs) that defined marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman. [59] On Sep. 21, 1996, President Bill Clinton signed the federal Defense of Marriage Act into law which defined marriage at the federal level as between a man and a woman. The federal DOMA statute ensured that no state would be forced to recognize gay marriages performed in other states and prevented same-sex couples from receiving federal protections and benefits given to married heterosexual couples.

(Click to enlarge image)
US gay marriage laws, state by state
Source: Ned Flaherty, "State-Level Marriage Equality,” www.marriagequality.org, Feb. 16, 2012
On Dec. 20, 1999, the Vermont Supreme Court ruled unanimously in Baker v. Vermont that same-sex couples were entitled to the same rights, protections, and benefits as heterosexual couples. [56] On July 1, 2000, Vermont became the first state in the US to institute civil unions, giving same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual married couples without calling it marriage.

On June 26, 2003, the US Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in Lawrence v. Texas that sodomy laws were unconstitutional. In overruling the court’s June 30, 1986 decision in Bowers v. Hardwick, the court established a right to sexual privacy and Justice Antonin Scalia predicted in his dissent that the majority decision "leaves on pretty shaky grounds state laws limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples.”

On Nov. 18, 2003, Massachusetts highest court ruled that the state must allow same-sex couples to marry. Unlike the 1999 Vermont Supreme Court ruling, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court did not provide the legislature the opportunity to offer an alternative to marriage such as civil unions. On May 17, 2004, the first legal gay marriage in the US was performed in Cambridge, MA between Tanya McCloskey, a massage therapist, and Marcia Kadishm, an employment manager at an engineering firm. [26]

Before 2004, four states had banned gay marriages. In 2004, 13 states saw their constitutions amended by referenda to ban gay marriage. Between 2005 and Sep. 15, 2010, 14 more states followed suit, bringing the total number of states with constitutional bans on gay marriage to 30. [59]

On July 14, 2004, an effort in the US Senate to pass a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriagereceived only 48 votes of the necessary 60 votes for the proposal to proceed. On Sep. 30, 2004, the US House of Representatives also rejected a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage by a vote of 227 to 186, 49 votes shy of the necessary two-thirds majority. [27]
Out-of-wedlock births in the Netherlands, 1970-2003
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Out-of-wedlock births in the Netherlands, 1970-2003
Source: Stanley Kurtz, PhD, "Going Dutch?” www.weeklystandard.com, May 31, 2004

California, with the nation’s largest and most racially diverse gay and lesbian population, has played a prominent role in the modern gay marriage debate. On Feb. 15, 2004, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom ordered the city to begin issuing marriage licenses to same sex-couples. On Mar. 11, 2004 the California Supreme Court ordered a halt to same-sex weddings and voided the marriages on Aug. 12, 2004. In a 4-3 ruling on May 15, 2008, the California Supreme Court overturned state laws banning gay marriage. [28] Between May 2008 and Nov. 4, 2008, an estimated 18,000 same-sex couples married in CA. [29] On Nov. 4, 2008, 52.3% of California voters approved ballot measure Proposition 8 which made same-sex marriage illegal in the state. On May 26, 2009, the California Supreme Court upheld Proposition 8’s gay marriage ban, but on Aug. 4, 2010, US District Judge Vaughn R. Walker struck down Proposition 8 as unconstitutional [41], and on Feb. 7, 2012, a three-judge panel of the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Walker’s ruling. [73] Following Judge Walker's ruling, many organizations expressed their views on gay marriage.
On Aug. 4, 2010, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints released a statement saying, "Marriage between a man and a woman is the bedrock of society." [33] On Aug. 10, 2010, the American Bar Association's House of Delegates voted to support gay marriage. [31] The following day, the American Psychological Association reiterated its support for
US gay marriage polls, 1988-2010
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US gay marriage polls, 1988-2010
Source: Nate Silver, "Opinion on Same-Sex Marriage Appears to Shift at Accelerated Pace,” www.fivethirtyeight.com, Aug. 12, 2010same-sex marriage. [32] In a Sep. 13, 2010 speech, Pope Benedict XVI expressed his opposition to gay marriage, saying the Roman Catholic Church "cannot approve of legal initiatives that imply a re-evaluation of the life of the couple and the family." [34]

From 1988 to 2010, public support for gay marriage increased at a rate of 1 to 1.5 points per year. [35] On Aug. 11, 2010, CNN released the results of the first national poll to show a majority support for gay marriage, with 52% agreeing that "gays and lesbians should have a constitutional right to get married and have their marriage recognized by law as valid.” [36] A Gallup report released on May 8, 2012 found that national support for same-sex marriage peaked in 2011 at 53%, dropping to 50% in 2012. [66]

On July 19, 2011, the Obama administration announced that it would support a bill by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). This followed President Obama's decision on Feb. 23, 2011 to instruct the Justice Department to stop defending DOMA, the federal law that defines marriage as a legal union between a man and woman, over concerns that it violates the equal protection component of the Fifth Amendment. [57] [58]

On May 9, 2012, President Obama became the first sitting US president to declare his support for gay marriage, stating: "At a certain point, I've just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married." [64]

On June 26, 2013, the US Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision in United States v. Windsor declared unconstitutional part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which defined marriage solely as a legal union between a man and a woman. The decision allowed same-sex married couples to receive the same federal benefits granted to heterosexual married couples, including tax breaks and pension rights. [74] [75]

Also on June 26, 2013, and also in a 5-4 decision, the US Supreme Court ruled in Hollingsworth v. Perry that proponents of California’s Proposition 8 lacked "standing" to defend the anti-gay marriage measure after it had been ruled unconstitutional by a District Court. The decision was considered to clear the way for gay marriage to become legal again in the state. [76] [77]

The following 17 states allow gay marriage as of Jan. 6, 2014: Massachusetts (May 17, 2004), Connecticut (Nov. 12, 2008), Iowa (Apr. 24. 2009), Vermont (Sep. 1, 2009), New Hampshire (Jan. 1, 2010), New York (June 24, 2011), Washington (Dec. 9, 2012), Maine (Dec. 29, 2012), Maryland (Jan. 1, 2013), California (June 28, 2013), Delaware (July 1, 2013), Rhode Island (Aug. 1, 2013), Minnesota (Aug. 1, 2013), New Jersey (Oct. 21, 2013), Hawaii (Dec. 2, 2013), New Mexico (Dec. 19, 2013), and Illinois (law will take effect June 1, 2014). Same-sex marriage became legal in the District of Columbia on Mar. 3, 2010. [1] [79]

As of Apr. 11, 2014, 15 out of 194 countries allow same-sex couples to marry: the Netherlands (2000), Belgium (2003), Canada (2005), Spain (2005), South Africa (2006), Norway (2009), Sweden (2009), Argentina (2010), Iceland (2010), Portugal (2010), Denmark (2012), Uruguay (2013), New Zealand (2013), Brazil (2013), and France (2013). Same-sex marriage is legal in some jurisdictions of Mexico, the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, and Wales), and the United States. [39] [63] [65] [66] [67] [78] [80]

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