The Legalization of Same-Sex Marriage Essay
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Same-sex marriage essays cover different homosexual movements for and against such queer marriages. They provide persuasive arguments why such unions must be given a chance in our diverse society. It is still a perplexing question for Americans if they want to allow homosexual unions as this contradicts popularly accepted moral principles. In this essay on same sex marriage, we tried to describe gay activities in achieving the equality of rights for homosexuals.
The thesis concerns all sides of discussion upon unisex marriages including the reasoning of both supporters and opponents. There must be a balanced conclusion for this issue as our society has not revolutionized yet to meet the demands of modern outlooks. This problem will sure to progress with future generations to be widely accepted as granted.
The Legalization of Same-Sex Marriage
Equality in marriage has periodically been challenged, as in earlier resistance to racially-mixed unions as recognized by legislation. In more recent decades, the emergence of the homosexual rights movement has generated a new, and seemingly more widely debated, issue of the rights of those of the same gender to legally marry. Even as states increasingly legislate unisex marriages, there remains a controversy, and of kinds by no means limited to extremist religious factions opposing equally extreme liberal agendas. While marriage is in the United States a legal, and not necessarily religious, state, the reality is that it remains inextricably linked with the popular mind to faith-based beliefs and consequently ideas of morality.
Those who find homosexuality ethically and/or religiously unacceptable, then, oppose legal sanctions at least ostensibly removed from such concerns. Supporters, conversely, typically discard faith-based argument and assert that same-sex marriage is, or must be considered, nothing more than a reflection of the civil liberties enjoyed by all citizens. Nonetheless, and notwithstanding the intermittent progress and morality-based objections, it is this irrefutable element of civil rights which must eventually result in same-sex marriage as legal in all states.
Not unexpectedly, the movement for same-sex marriage coincides, or follows closely behind, the emergence in a society of gay people as an accepted population entitled to the rights shared by all. More specifically, it was only relatively recently that homosexuality itself was, if not “legalized,” decriminalized. Illinois was the first state to do so in 1961, erasing longstanding laws which subjected gay people to imprisonment for being homosexual. By 1969, the notorious Stonewall Riots in New York City made a statement all their own.
To be decriminalized was not acceptable, for there remained vast stigma and discrimination, and Stonewall essentially lit the fuse on extraordinary numbers of gay men and women openly declaring themselves as such and demanding full recognition as citizens in every regard (Lahey, Alderson, 2009, p. 17). It would not be long before marriage became an issue, and it is interesting to note how this seems to have taken the entire judicial system by surprise. In 1971, the Minnesota Supreme Court rendered the first verdict in regard to same-sex marriage, denying the right in the Baker v. Nelson case.
What is significant here was the reasoning. On one level, and pragmatically, the Court affirmed that the Minnesota statutes only held to marriage as being a union between a man and a woman. On another, and in a manner that would prove ultimately self-defeating, the Court actually employed the 1967 landmark case of Loving v Virginia, in which the Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional any law prohibiting interracial marriage. The Minnesota court held that, in a constitutional sense, homosexuality was removed from issues of racial discrimination (Cantor, 2006, p. 117). It seems likely that the Court genuinely was unaware of its indicating the precise grounds upon which gay rights, and same-sex marriage, would be validated.
By the 1980s and 1990s, there would be both rising momenta for same-sex marriage and proportionate backlash. There is, in no uncertain terms, no tracing of the trajectory of same-sex marriage legislation without an inevitable noting of the potent social forces generated by it, and in a multitude of directions. Gay men and women themselves largely resisted ideas of legally marrying because it was perceived as capitulating to heterosexual standards of normalcy (Andryszewski, 2007, p. 15). Certainly, more urbanized gays were seeking to marry, but the right itself polarized gay politics, a circumstance easily exploited by biased factions determined to “protect” the perceived sanctity of marriage. As the alternating movements and tides of opinion evolved, stark contrasts have been noted, some of which belie the likely sense in many gay people that the days of overt discrimination are over.
For instance, data from a 2000 Gallup poll revealed that over 80 percent of Americans favored hate crime legislation in regard to violence against gays, a sentiment seemingly revealing full social acceptance. At the same time, research in the same time frame points to the extreme division as to same-sex marriage, with most Americans then only supporting civil unions (Mucciaroni, 2009, p. 21). The contrast is made more vivid when the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) comes into play. While a great many circumstances clearly fueled the creation of this extraordinary piece of legislation, the timing indicates that it was Hawaii’s rulings in 1996, declaring that denying marriage licenses to same-sex couples is gender discrimination, that prompted it.
Under DOMA, Congress unequivocally defined marriage as a legal union between a man and a woman. The bill also provided that one state did not have to recognize a same-sex marriage permitted in another (Cahill, 2004, p. 6). DOMA’s history has been as rife with conflict as may be fully anticipated from a statute so blatantly infusing elements of faith-based ideology and tradition into law, and President Obama’s 2011 calling for its revocation is hardly surprising. It is nonetheless crucial to comprehend just how recently this legislation was created, and how it reflected a social opinion on an immense scale.
Linked to DOMA is and was the American “middle ground” of the civil union. Created by the Vermont legislature in 1999, and largely supported by gay activists at the time, the civil union was inescapably an effort to mediate or appease those gays insistent upon legal marriage. Vermont admitted that the benefits of marriage could not be reasonably denied to gay men and women, and the civil union does enable certain degrees of advantage, and approximately 300 “rights” as granted by marriage are provided.
These range from protection under domestic violence provisions to the settlement of property (Cahill, Tobias, 2007, p. 70). As has been widely noted, however, legal marriage, and largely due to its long history as a product of both legal and social interests, offers benefits no list of provisions may duplicate.
If initially embracing the civil union as an important shift in American thinking and legislation, it was not long before gays recognized that it actually promotes a non-equality or a separate-but-equal circumstance. Then, further issues arise from the DOMA-related fact that states are by no means legally obliged to honor civil unions granted in other states. It is consequently plain that, given how recently all of these efforts and responses have arisen and collided, the momentum behind the same-sex marriage movement would carry on and increase.
Today, nine states and the District of Columbia administer legal, same-sex marriage, and polls indicate that the subject is slowly finding increased favor among Americans (Cohen, 2013). If this is encouraging, it is nonetheless striking in revealing the persistence of traditional thinking as hindering essential civil progress.
There can be no rational refuting of fundamental beliefs which compel certain people to view homosexuality as an aberration, a sin, or a harmful element to the society, simply because such beliefs are accepted as personal freedoms. It is then all the more ironic that the same constitutional liberties allowing for such beliefs are denied in regard to others, and this is ultimately the important component of equal marriage legislation.
It is obvious in this same sex marriage essay that there is ample reason to accept that, in the bulk of the history of Western civilization and in that of the United States, marriage has typically been viewed as a sacred union, one sanctioned by both the law and the prevailing ethical and religious forces of the nation. History is powerful, in that it sets a kind of precedent unto itself. Then, people are certainly entitled to subscribe to religious or ethical principles which denounce homosexuality.
They are not, however, entitled to deny freedoms which are written into the Constitution for all or, as in the case of same-sex marriage, interpret lacks of gender specificity within the laws as evidence of unstated intent. For too long, traditional concepts blithely accepted as rationale have been permitted to deny justice to a certain population, just as for centuries mainstream thinking denied minorities basic human rights.
Same-sex marriage is both a relatively new movement and one marked by social and political turbulence, but none of that must be allowed to obfuscate the central reality. As gay men and women are citizens, they are fully entitled to the rights of all citizens.
If objections arise due to moral feelings, such feelings may not be allowed to interfere with what is legally established, enjoyed by the majority, and correct for all. When all is said and done, it is this irrefutable element of civil rights which must eventually result in homosexual marriage as being legal in all states.
- Andryszewski, T. (2007). Same-Sex Marriage: Moral Wrong Or Civil Right? Minneapolis: Twenty-First Century books.
- Cahill, S. R. (2004). Same Sex Marriage In The United States: Focus On The Facts. Lanham: Lexington Books.
- Cahill, S. R., & Tobias, S. (2007). Policy Issues Affecting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual And Transgender Families. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
- Cantor, D. (2006). Same-Sex Marriage: The Legal and Psychological Evolution in America. Middleton: Wesleyan University Press.
- Cohen, J. (2013). “Gay marriage support hits new high in Post-ABC poll.” The Washington Post. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2013/03/18/gay- marriage-support-hits-new-high-in-post-abc-poll/
- Lahey, K. A., & Alderson, K. (2009). Same-Sex Marriage. Toronto: Insomniac Press.
- Mucciaroni, G. (2009). Same Sex, Different Politics: Success and Failure in the Struggles over Gay Rights. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
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