Gay Marriage Complicated Issue
Gay marriage was and still is a huge topic over which many political figures debate, the issue being whether or not same-sex couples should be granted the license to be married. Although the idea of being homosexual, having sexual feelings for the same gender, was not known for many years, homosexuality and gay marriage is now a big issue today. Many people oppose gay marriage, while others support it. Because of the vast number of people who now know about and are exposed to the idea of gay marriage, they have formed their own conclusions and opinions on how this issue should be dealt with. However, in the end, gay marriage should be allowed for all who wish to seek it.
On one side of the spectrum, there are people who believe gay marriage should not be allowed, and marriage between same sex couples will harm the community around them. There are so-called “rules" people have established to justify their opposition to gay marriage, which, according to Julian Bond, include, “… there are many who base their support of these laws and their opposition to same-sex marriage on Biblical inerrancy, on the proposition that Leviticus 18:22 prohibits homosexuality and God's law must be obeyed" (Bond, paragraph 24). The Bible, which many people happen to believe in, does not favor same-sex marriage. In turn, these people stay away from same-sex marriage in fear of committing a major sin against God. A specific book in the Bible is not in favor of gay marriage, but there is a difference between religious beliefs and civil rights. The American Civil Liberties Union, a national organization that defends civil rights guaranteed to United States citizens, contradicts that opinion when it states, “State marriage laws are entirely separate from religious practices in our country. The granting of civil marriage to same-sex couples would not impose any requirements on religious groups, but rather would ensure equal access to the complex structure of rights and responsibilities that civil marriage has become" (American Civil Liberties Union, paragraph 19). How far one can carry their religious belief into the community is, in actuality, limited. There are no “commandments" outlawing the use of God’s name in vain; therefore, there should be no laws based on religion. The right to gay marriage is a civil right of the people, a right that should be granted because we are all equals. There is no favoritism towards a group or another, as there should be no discrimination of other groups.
In his article Why Gays Should Support Same-Sex Marriage, Michael Warner also believes granting, “marriage as part of a larger push toward gay normalcy… [is]… a threat to the variety that has flourished in the queer community, ‘with its ethical refusal of shame or implicitly shaming standards of dignity’" (Goldstein, paragraph 6). If gay people were to marry, given the government grants them permission to obtain marriage licenses, they would be assimilating to the current culture; gays would lose their sense of individual identity of what makes them different—the fact that they sexually desire people of the same gender. While losing identity could be a minor result of being allowed marriage, the same sex couple would instead be happier with their lives because the government would officially recognize them as a permanent, bonded couple. In contrast, the real issue of this perspective on same-sex marriage is really what the same-sex couple wants from the marriage. As Andrew Sullivan states in a testimony he makes for gay marriage, he says, “And like anybody else, [same sex couples] do not seek to destroy marriage; [same-sex couples] seek to strengthen it" (Sullivan, paragraph 4). Same-sex couples who desire to marry never have any intention of destroying the definition of marriage. They especially do not have any intention of becoming the same as the rest of American; they just want their equal rights. What same-sex couples want is to add to the greatness of the emotional value of marriage that heterosexual couples are already able to practice.
To further argue with the proposition that allowing gay marriage would force homosexuals to assimilate to the rest of the society, Jonathan Rauch writes in his book Gay Marriage: Why It Is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America, “I often hear people say that the reason gays want to be able to marry is to normalize homosexuality. There are actually quite a few reasons gays want marriage, but change ‘the reason’ in the previous sentence to ‘a reason’ and the statement is hard to quibble with. Homosexuals are indeed tired of being seen as ‘perverts’ or ‘deviants’ or ‘queers’—who wouldn’t be?—and legalizing same-sex marriage would signal that the law, for its part, recognizes that some people happen to be gay. But what is more important about legalizing same-sex matrimony is that is would normalize marriage" (Rauch, Chapter 5, page 89). Rauch presents his audience with an interesting statement, turning around the use of the world “normalize" to describe the marriage, not the same-sex couple. One, but not the only, reason for same-sex couples to marry is to make marriage the same standard for every couple. One of the goals in legalizing gay marriage is to extend all the right to marry to everyone, not just heterosexual people. By establishing that same-sex marriage would be lawful, society discriminates against homosexuals less and would accept the marriage of these individuals more. The idea of gay marriage is not appealing to those deeply religious, and those who want uniqueness; however, the allowance of gay marriage gives same-sex couples opportunities to further the achievements of their lives.
Traditionally, many have held the belief that the purpose of marriage is to have children, which would prevent gays from marrying; however, the purpose of marriage is not to have children. As Jonathan Rauch also states in his book, he believes the traditional purpose of marriage is wrong when he says, “At present, suffice to say that marriage is unquestionably good for children, but children are not and cannot be the only reason for marriage. No society denies marriage to the infertile; no society requires couples to promise they will have children; no society nullifies marriage if children don’t turn up; for that matter, no modern society mandates marriage if they do" (Rauch, Chapter 1, page 18). The significance of marriage is so that the couple’s peers and the government would recognize the two as a married couple, permanently bound together. Two people do not marry solely to have children, which could be done with or without marriage; they marry for the satisfaction the marriage gives both of them. Even if a same-sex couple was not able to produce any children, it does not make a difference as to whether or not they should be allowed to marry . What the matter really comes down to is that if a couple, regardless of orientation, wants to get married, they should be allowed to do so. The ability to produce children or not has nothing to do with the legality of same-sex marriage.
Overtly, the actual reason for a homosexual couple to marry is simply love. In his book, Jonathan Rauch also states, “Marriage gives love a direction, a calling. It promises that love can lead somewhere, to a purpose higher than oneself" (Rauch, Chapter 3, page 60). Contrasting with the idea that the purpose of marriage is procreation, the real purpose of marriage—especially from a gay person’s point of view—is love. Through this reinforcement of love and vowing commitment, the government allows the couple to further strengthen their relationship, resulting in positive outcomes. The commitment provides for fewer problems to arise in the relationship regarding loyalty and faithfulness. When same-sex couples are allowed both to love and marry freely, there is a stronger sense of promise with the other person, creating steadier and healthier relationships.
Another perspective of the children issue in same-sex marriage is whether or not the children will be affected by the marriage. George Chauncey writes in his book, Why Marriage?: The history shaping today's debate over gay equality, that, “Most gay people found it difficult to believe that annoying could think their sexual orientation was a choice or that granting equal rights to gay people would influence children to become gay. Many could tell stories about how they had discovered and then resisted their own sexual orientation, given the social pressures against being gay. Being raised by heterosexuals hadn’t turns them into heterosexuals, so why should the reverse be true?" (Chauncey, Chapter 5, page 154). There is the fear in many homophobes that more homosexuals would result because these children’s parents were homosexual, as well. But using inductive logic, people who are gay have not necessarily come from gay parents; many have actually come from straight parents. Therefore, it would be unsound to conclude gay children will result from gay parents, as gay children result from straight parents, as well. Furthermore, April Martin wrote that a study conducted by Dr. Charlotte Patterson of the University of Virginia explained that, “Not a single study showed any difference in the children’s level of emotional adjustment, whether raised by heterosexual or gay parents. Children raised by lesbian or gay parents were no more or less likely to be homosexual than other children… Despite the existence of social prejudice, children with lesbian or gay parents did just as well as other children socially and academically" (Martin, page 43). This evidence gathered from an actual study by a professional proves that having gay parents has no affect on the children, which should therefore allow same-sex couples to marry. The children of same-sex couples would continue with a normal life that any child of heterosexual parents would have as well. Lastly, April Martin also argues that, “We lesbians and gay men choose to become parents for the same reasons heterosexuals do: to impart our love, our knowledge and our heritages to our children" (Martin, page 42). Gay parents never have children in hopes of causing them to become abnormal from the rest of society; they just want the best for their children. April Martin proves that gay parents are just like heterosexual parents in terms of their goals for their children and what they want for them. Same-sex parents never intend to do bad for their children. While the argument that the marriage of same-sex couples would allow the couple to have children they would “mess up" exists, the argument is nullified because there is no proof the children of same-sex couples have been affected for the worse. In fact, many have proved the exact opposite, showing that children of same-sex couples can have a regular life.
Fitting accordingly with the aspect of children in gay marriage, Evan Wolfson also writes in his book, Why Marriage Matters: America, Equality, and Gay People’s Right to Marry, that, “Quite to the contrary, the experts [scholarly researchers such as Andrew Cherlin of Johns Hopkins University, Fran Furstenburg of the University if Pennysylvania, [and] Sara McLanahan of Princeton University…] wrote, the children of some same-sex couples may even have some advantage because of the hoops their parents had to jump through to conceive them, adopt them, or bring them into the family by other means" (Wolfson, Chapter 5, page 91). Because the married gay parents had to go to such extreme measures to be able to have a child, the child knows that he/she is wanted and loved. There is the notion that there is a “do anything no matter what" between all members of the family, letting the child know that there will always be stability in their lives. The child would therefore develop a very positive outlook on their life and what others think of him or her.
Gay marriage helps commit couples to each other and also helps to settle men. As Jonathan Rauch says in his article, For Better or Worse?, “Take the matter of settling men. It is probably true that women and children, more than just the fact of marriage, help civilize men. But that hardly means that the settling effect of marriage on homosexual men is negligible. To the contrary, being tied to a committed relationship plainly helps stabilize gay men," he continues that coupled gay men have, “relationships that they value and therefore tend to less wanton" (Rauch, Chapter 5, page 178). Similar to same-sex couples’ relationship strengthening due to a marriage between the two, gay men are especially committed when they are in a relationship. There is a sense of responsibility for the other and the relationship gives the men something to feel in charge of. Furthermore, through the marriage of the gay men they feel even more committed to the other and do so fully. The formerly raucous men have now settled down to become mature, docile men. The relationship they have formed helps them to want no other person but their own partner, as well, because they are satisfied and content with their relationship now. George Chauncey further defends this argument when he said that, “Marriage was a positive good because it would ‘civilize’ gay men and increase the pressure on men to retreat from the sexual culture of the seventies by increasing the stigma unmarried gay men faced" (Chauncey, Chapter 4, page 121). Through the relationship, the gay men feel as if there a duty one must serve to the other. They feel there is a purpose to settle down because there is someone else they need to show that they are committed and faithful. Rather than continue their insubordinate behavior of the past, the gay men will enter into a serious relationship that involves their full attention. Through further enforcing the relationships of these gay men with marriage, the men will definitely dedicate themselves to the other, leaving their unruly past behind.
Throughout the history of many societies, there have been clear lines that define what women or men can or cannot do. With the allowance of gay marriage, however, these lines are clearly redefined or swept away altogether. George Chauncey writes in Why Marriage?: The history shaping today's debate over gay equality that with heterosexual marriage, “Women are still more likely to stay at home with the children, do housework, and earn less when they work outside the home. But such inequalities are no longer structured by law. As a result, growing numbers of heterosexual couples have come to resemble gay couples in the sense that their roles in their relationship are no longer determined by gender. To put it another way, there continues to be a division of labor in marriage: who wakes up with the kids and who puts them to bed, who fixes dinner and who washes the dishes. But distinct family roles are no longer arbitrarily assigned to the ‘husband’ or the ‘wife’" (Chauncey, Chapter 3, page 79). Gay marriage omits the gender roles associated with the female and male sexes, creating a larger sense of equality for both sides in the relationship. In making the cause-and-effect relationship between homosexual couples and their lack of gender roles to heterosexual couples and their emergence in eliminating these gender roles, Chauncey emphasizes not only that same-sex marriage would create equality in the relationship, but also in other heterosexual relationships as well. Therefore, legalizing same-sex marriage would dispose of the problem of gender roles society has been facing for thousands of years, in addition to spreading these ideas to other couples, which will improve relationships, an additional benefit of same-sex marriage.
Allowing gay marriage would greatly benefit the couple both emotionally and financially. In the book Why Marriage?: The history shaping today's debate over gay equality, George Chauncey writes that, “Civil unions provided none of the federal rights and benefits that marriage did—from social security to pension protections and tax considerations—and constituted a separate, unequal category for some couples compared to others" (Chauncey, Chapter 4, page 129). Being recognized as a married couple would serve the individual people in the couple better because they would have access to aid from the government for many things that can help save them money. If these individuals were not married, they would each essentially have to support themselves, which could cost more money, especially in the future. Therefore, by providing a married gay couple with the same benefits the government gives to married heterosexual couples, the government and the couple saves money. Currently, because the government does not allow same-sex couples to marry, these couples do not receive the benefits heterosexual couples do. If the government allows gay marriage, same-sex couples would be as financially secure as heterosexual couples. The government gives same-sex couples the option of security, which brings equality to these couples and gives them many more benefits, fulfilling the words Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1776 in the Declaration of Independence of “All men are created equal". George Chauncey also gives an example of a situation similar to the previous and says, “Two women who’d been together for nineteen years told of the time one of them went into the hospital for breast surgery and her partner ‘wasn’t allowed in there.’ They ‘had to fight, and fight,’ and ‘I ended up signing myself out’" (Chauncey, Chapter 5, page 140). The fact that the two women were not married prevented one of them from being able to visit the other in her time of need. However, this issue caused such a huge argument, that the two ended up fighting, which was not what they needed that that time. Not only does the lack of marriage prevent them from seeing each other at crucial times, but it causes more emotional strain and stress when those times come around. When same-sex couples are granted the marriage they need, they will be able to use all the privileges and rights heterosexual married couples already have. There will no longer be unnecessary conflict regarding financial bills, taxes, pension, or hospital visits. Legalizing gay marriage would increase the number of benefits the couple can receive and makes financial and emotional situations easier on not only the couple, but also society.
All these benefits of being allowed to marry would be granted to same-sex couples when the government finally agrees to license the same-sex couples to wed. One Supreme Court ruling that supported gay marriage that, “To everyone’s astonishment, the Hawaii plaintiffs came within an inch of winning full marriage rights. After a trial court’s dismissal of the case, the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled in 1993 that the marriage ban presumptively violated the state’s Equal Rights Amendment, and remanded the case to the trial court to determine if there was ‘compelling state interest’ in denying the [gay] couples’ right to marry" (Chauncey, Chapter 4, page 125). In this court case, the Supreme Court basically ruled that Hawaii had violated the Equal Rights Amendment, which granted equal rights to its citizens. This astonished everyone because the Supreme Court decided to recognize the fact that same-sex couples do have a, while still potential, right to marry. The government felt that equality would only be distributed evenly when it does not exclude same-sex couples. In the 1996 Supreme Court case of Romer vs. Evans, “the Supreme Court rules that Colorado’s Amendment 2 was unconstitutional. In sweeping language, it declared that no one could be made a stranger to the law and implicitly rejected the snide dismissal of gay rights in its Bowers decision a decade earlier" (Chauncey, Chapter 2, page 52). This means that the Supreme Court ruled against a Colorado amendment that would have prevented any city, town, or county in the state from protecting homosexual citizens from discrimination because of their sexual orientation. In this ruling, the Supreme Court yet again stated that all citizens should have equal rights. From this, people can assume the Supreme Court would give the license to marry to same-sex couples. While the Supreme Court has not directly stated this, many can interpret that this is in support of gay marriage.
The issue of gay marriage is indisputable. Allowing same-sex couples benefits the couple, government, and general public, as well. As the years have continued, many have argued whether or not same-sex couples have the right to marry; however, the conclusion should be self-evident. Same-sex marriage provides the couple with stability and further strengthens their bond with each other. The children benefit: they see a firm foundation in the marriage of their parents, and they are not affected in a bad way. The government benefits: it does not have to deal with more finance troubles of individual people within a couple. Society benefits: they model their relationships after healthy homosexual relationships. And most importantly, the couple benefits: they are granted all the rights of a regular married couple and get to soak in the joy of being publicly recognized for being permanently bonded together in love. Overall, the purpose of gay marriage is to express the love and devotion one has for the other. There is no selfish reason homosexuals have that would cause society to reject the proposition of allowing same-sex marriage. There is no reason to keep a free human being from marrying the person they love. There is no reason to prevent individuals from the same rights and benefits married couples receive. There is no reason to let a child wonder why her mothers or fathers cannot get married or go through life without stability in his or her parents’ relationship. One of the few things same-sex couples are simply asking for is what other heterosexual couples get to practice—the right to marry, which ultimately symbolizes the equality of same-sex couples in the eyes of the United States government, something that should already be taking place in our country today.