For thousands of years, most cultures around the world have recognized marriage as a union between a man and a woman. However, marriage can best be described as a commitment of love between two people, yet homosexuals have been denied the right to make their marriage recognized by the federal government of the United States. Should gay marriages be legal? Clearly this is an unresolved issue in our society. Even though the federal government does not validate same-sex marriage, such marriages are recognized by some individual states. So far, only 8 states (Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, California , New York, Washington D.C., and Iowa) have passed a law that allows homosexual couples the right to participate in civil unions. In addition to these, there are a few other states that are also debating whether or not to allow these couples to marry. Unfortunately, this debate has left the America’s homosexual community in an awkward position. There are some people who believe that homosexuals have no rights and should never be allowed to marry. Others think that homosexuals are just like anyone else and should enjoy the same rights and privileges as heterosexuals do. The contending sides in the gay-marriage controversy often seem to talk past one another. They start from such radically different premises that it is hard to speak of genuine "debate" at all. One side says the issue is a matter of basic human rights; the other says it is about preserving a traditional form that is the basis for all successful human societies. On this issue, Left and Right differ dramatically on religion, biology of human reproduction and social issues about what is perceived to be ‘normal’ and where ‘normal’ matters. There should be no reason to why homosexuals should be denied the same rights as heterosexuals as they are equally well-functioning members of society and making their marriage recognized should be no exception. The proposed legalization of same sex marriage is one of the most significant issues in contemporary society. Presently, it is one of the most provocative issues and most vigorous topics discussed in law reviews. It could possibly be one of the most revolutionary policy decisions in the history of American family law. The potential consequences, positive or negative, for children, parents, same-sex couples, families and social structure are momentous. Given the importance of the issue, the value of a comprehensive debate may be obvious. Marriage is much more than just a commitment to love one another. Aside from societal and religious conventions, marriage entails legally imposed financial responsibility and legally authorized financial benefits. According to the federal government's General Accounting Office (GAO), more than 1,100 rights and protections are conferred to U.S. citizens upon marriage. Marriage instantly provides an automatic legal succession of a deceased spouse's property, as well as Social Security benefits, veterans' benefits, health insurance, Medicaid, hospital visitation, estate taxes, retirement savings, pensions, family leave, and immigration law. With all this to consider, should the law prohibit homosexuals to request the legalisation of their marriage merely because they are of the same gender? The definition of marriage has a long tradition of being between one man and one woman and this has been supported and has an accepted definition across virtually all cultures. Marriage was a ritual born from primitive cultures that recognized males and females mated to produce children that needed to be cared for. The biological parents were considered to be the primary caregivers, with other relatives and friends taking a secondary role. Hence, marriage was a logical extension of human reproduction and that families needed to prevail for society to survive. Having said that, we should realize the fact that in the last century, the human race has dramatically changed. Before, we didn't have telephones, radio, TV, airplanes, trains, cars, advanced medicine, genetic engineering, the Internet, birth control, abortion, cloning, test tube babies, or any of the other new technological advancements that we have today. We live twice as long as people did 200 years ago. In many significant ways, we are not really the same species of human as we were then. Yes, genetically we are almost identical compared to then, but with our new technology, and the resulting cultural changes; there are a lot of significant differences. And it’s those differences that have made changes that directly affect the concept of marriage, changes that have to be taken into consideration. For example, "till death do us part" is a lot longer of a commitment than it used to be. Before, many couples only lived to around 50 years old; nowadays living until 80 is perceived as a normal life span (National Center for Health Statistics). Our entire culture is so different and technology has changed things to such an extent that we are required to rethink the option of what kind of relationships we can have and to retest our views of marriage as to what it is now, and what it means in today’s society.
Does gay marriage threaten religion?
A major issue for many people against gay marriage is that it threatens religious beliefs. Objectors argue that same-sex marriage and religious liberty comprise a zero-sum game. Recognizing gay marriage (or prohibiting sexual orientation discrimination generally) will inevitably prevent some religious individuals and institutions from staying true to their faith. They believe in equality for either homosexuals or religious liberty, but not both. Many Christian groups have been vocal and politically active in opposing same-sex marriage laws in the United States. Same-sex marriage opponents sometimes claim that extending marriage rights to same-sex couples could undercut the conventional purpose of marriage. Roman Catholic advocates of monogamous heterosexual marriages contend that same-sex relationships cannot be considered marriages because marriage, by definition, necessarily involves the uniting of two members of the opposite sex. Other religious arguments for an opposite-sex definition of marriage hold that same-sex relationships should not be recognized as marriages because same-gender sexual activity is contrary to God's will, is immoral, and subverts God's creative intent for human sexuality. Christian opposition to same-sex marriage also comes from the belief that same-sex marriage normalizes homosexual behavior and would encourage it, instead of encouraging resistance to same-sex attraction. However, many religious organizations, including some that do not recognize religious same-gender marriage, either directly support civil marriage for same-gender couples, support equal rights for same-gender couples, or are opposed to the denial of equal rights for same-gender couples. The reasons religious organizations support equal rights for same-gender couples are varied. But it is fair to say that most see it as a matter of love, justice, basic fairness, and civil rights. Many agree that legal recognition of same-gender marriage would make very positive moral and social points - that we as a people value committed, caring relationships and do not discriminate on the basis of gender, sexual orientation or religion.
Does gay marriage diminish the institution of marriage?
A common argument against legalizing same-sex marriages is that doing so would undermine the institution of marriage. For some reason, a marriage between members of the same sex is a self-contradiction and, if their unions are legalized, then marriage itself across the country will be harmed. Many believe that gay relationships are “sinful” or “wrong.” Gay people aren’t deemed appropriate candidates for marriage because they’re seen as a set of negative stereotypes rather than as real people. Opponents of equal marriage have suggested that marriage as an institution would be weakened, even tainted, by allowing homosexuals to make their marriage legal. Such people are, of course, free to hold whatever views they wish in respect of homosexuality and the treatment of same sex couples, but the law should not be based upon such degrading and offensive notions. Others argue that gay people are less committed to monogamy than are straights; thus, gay marriages are more likely to be “open marriages” where the two people have a weaker commitment to one another - sexually, psychologically, socially, and emotionally. For one thing, it isn’t clear that gay couples who have displayed the interest and willingness to go through the steps to come as close to marriage as they are currently allowed, are in more “open” relationships than straight couples. Even if they were, they would not constitute a significant portion of marriages - The 2006-2008 National Survey of Family Growth found that homosexuals do not make up more than 10% of all people in society, so the number of “open” gay marriages would be far less than 10% of all marriages. This just doesn’t seem like a large enough number to conclude that marriage would be harmed. If it were, and if that were a good enough reason to ban gay marriages, then we have a much better reason to ban divorce - some 50% of all marriages end in divorce (U.S. National Center for Health Statistics), after all, and it seems like an even stronger proposition to say that allowing people to easily dissolve a marriage is ultimately detrimental for marriage as an institution. It’s interesting to learn how most vocal opponents of same-sex marriage are not also campaigning in defence of marriage by trying to ban divorces. Although there do not appear to be any secular reasons for prohibiting members of the same sex from marrying, this sort of argument is probably the only one that opponents of gay marriages can realistically expect to use if they want to make a legal and moral case. They need to provide some evidence of clear and identifiable harm that would result from gay marriage. Simply put, they would need to be able to demonstrate that the harm will outweigh any benefits.
Marriage is about raising children
Marriage has been primarily about the raising of children. Society has had a legitimate interest in favoring such traditional marriages as a way of investing in the future of society by providing for the human flourishing of upcoming generations. This is a universal agreement. It is accepted that marriage functions as a building block of starting a family, a beginner step towards being parents. So far there are no distinct qualifications for becoming a parent; however, most would suggest that a good parent possess characteristics such as being responsible, capable, and affectionate - none of which are exclusive to heterosexuals. So, if we can accept that homosexuals are for all intensive purposes equal to heterosexuals in their personalities and behavior (outside of sexual endeavors), then there is no good reason to deny them the right to marry and start a family. To do so would be to exhibit blatant homophobia, or the idea that gay people would somehow make inferior parents. The only way to eradicate this absurd ideal would be exposure; people need to see that gay people are just as competent as straight people in being good parents. Moreover, exposure to the homosexual lifestyle would decrease homophobia and other bigotry in general. Parenting is in no way limited to be between a child's biological mother and father. In fact, ⅓ of children in America are not raised in two-parent households [The Daily Gleaner, March 31 2007]. Plus, the 2000 U. S. Census reports that 33% of lesbian couples, and 22% of gay male couples have at least one child under the age of 18 living in the home. These statistics show us that the norms of society are changing and many children are indeed being raised by single parents or non-biological parents, including gay couples. Opponents of gay-marriage would have the burden of proving that this is detrimental to these children and society at large. There are currently more than 200 million orphans in the world today (UNICEF, 2009) and studies by UNICEF have shown homosexual couples are much more likely to adopt than straight couples and most studies indicate that gay couples raise children equally if not even better than straight couples, and there’s no doubt society can agree that having loving gay parents is better than being stuck in overcrowded orphanages and foster homes. There is nothing that heterosexual parents can offer that homosexuals can't, except for maybe a "traditional" family. However, nowhere is it cited that what is traditional is necessarily better; in some cases, studies show that it is the opposite. Interviews with children with gay parents and studies alike both conclude that having homosexual parents is not detrimental to one's well-being or mental health and stability. In fact, according to the ACLU Lesbian and Gay Rights Project, children with gay parents often excel.
Gay tax paying, law abiding citizens should have every right to adopt children the same way that heterosexuals enjoy this right. There is nothing that heterosexual parents can offer that homosexuals can't, except for maybe a "traditional" family. However, nowhere is it cited that what is traditional is necessarily better; in some cases, studies show that it is the opposite. Moreover, what is traditional is subject to change, as norms in society are transient and determine tradition. So, it would be more beneficial to the children (who should be the number one priority) and the state, to allow gay couples to adopt children and take in those who need stable, caring homes. If gay marriage can be legalized, a likely immediate effect would be a sudden upsurge in the adoption rate, which in turn would help aid such a serious societal issue. Marriage is a legal contract between two people. Just as all other contracts in any other legal situation are not allowed to discriminate based on gender or sexual orientation; marriage laws should be no exception. How would a person feel if their rights were suddenly violated? What if, instead of homosexuals being under the knife for their sexual orientation, it was heterosexuals? Homosexuals are not depraved individuals; being gay is not a mental disorder. As such, they are considered fully functioning members of society. They go to school, go to work, pay taxes, etc. Being homosexual is just as natural as being heterosexual, and believing that homosexuals do not deserve the same rights as everyone else is possibly one of the most corrupt prejudices to exist. Who is to say that being homosexual is wrong? Who is to break up a family? Why is society, after so many years of fighting racial segregation, still in the fight over sexual orientation? We live in a society where individuals are given the right to choose their own religion and philosophy of life, the right to choose with whom they will associate and how they will express themselves, the right to choose where they will live and what occupation they will pursue. The government should respect choices made by individuals and, to the greatest extent possible, avoid subordinating these choices to any one conception of the good life. For homosexuals, the choice to marry whoever they want should not be denied because they are of the same sex. After all, marriage is a commitment of love. Love is a verb; it’s a constant thing that surrounds everyone every day. Everyone deserves love, and everyone deserves companionship and I don’t see why anyone, should be denied the right to marry the person of their choice because of their sexual orientation. Hundreds of gay couples have already made life-long commitments to each other and many thousands more are simply waiting to have this chance.