Lately an extensive issue all around America is centered on gay rights. Does being gay or straight make you less of a person? The debate in the political world concerning this is over allowing or denying gay marriage to be legal. Even though this is an exceedingly controversial topic, Legalizing same-sex marriage will have a positive effect on society because it won’t harm the institution of marriage, it will uphold the constitution, and it will inevitably happen either way.
What does marriage mean? Some people believe that marriage can only mean a commitment between a man and a woman, but others believe that marriage can mean a commitment between any two people who love each other and want to be with each other (Lewis). People who oppose gay marriage argue that the traditional definition of marriage is between a man and a woman and it will weaken the institution and eventually lead to interspecies marriages (ProCon.org). In order to change that mindset, gay couples must display some profound differences in the idea of what marriage means (Badgett 88). Couples were interviewed and asked what they thought the reasons to marry were. Some examples they gave were: to express an intention to stay together, to express a commitment to each other and to their families, to possess a legal bond and share their life, to ensure the wellbeing of their future children, to cement their bond to each other, and to create a political statement (Badgett 89). According to these interviews, the majority of couples didn’t specify that marriage could only be between a man and a woman. Therefore, the argument that marriage is only for heterosexual couples is ridiculous.
Allowing gays and lesbians to obtain a marriage certificate will not harm the institution of marriage. Marriage has been tied to procreation and therefore has been a major reason against gay marriage even if the couple doesn’t want to raise kids (Badgett 91). Even though love is the main reason people get married, it is not the only reason. People marry for money, non-sexual companionship, even health insurance (Kellard). Does that mean these reasons also threaten the institution of marriage? In this view how is a gay couple getting married any more threatening to the institution of marriage than marrying for money? It is extremely difficult to understand how a gay couple getting married will affect a heterosexual marriage in any way (Kellard).
Marriage is not a social obligation. Not all heterosexual couples get married and not all same-sex couples want to get married (Badgett 89). In fact, there is an increasing number of heterosexual couples who choose not to marry and instead live their lives outside of marriage (Badgett 88). States that have legalized same-sex marriage possess a whole 12% lower divorce rate than states that ban legalization (“Gay Marriage Debate”). Massachusetts was the first state to legalize gay marriage and it has the lowest divorce rate in the country (ProCon.org). Hence, there is no reason to deny gays and lesbians the right to get married based on the false idea that it would harm the institution of marriage.
According to the Constitution, everyone is equal. That means everyone, whether gay or straight has the right to equal opportunities and privileges such as marriage. If straight couples can receive benefits than constitutionally gay couples should be able to receive those same benefits. Gay couples face discrimination and a plethora of prejudice, including the assumption that they are all promiscuous and not capable of sustaining a committed relationship (“Gay Marriage Debate”). Gay men and lesbians will continue to fall short of complete citizenship if they are denied their right to marry (Jost “Should gay…”). The supreme judicial Court of Massachusetts stated that there was no constitutionally adequate reason for denying same-sex couples the legal benefits of marriage (Jost “Gay Marriage…”). In California the Supreme Court ruled that all Californians possess a fundamental right to marry no matter what sexual orientation they are (Jost “Gay Marriage…”). The employment Non-discrimination act bans the discrimination because of sexual orientation when hiring or firing employees, but a Christian bookstore argued that it went against their religious liberty to hire a gay clerk at their store. Even though this should be solved with the civil rights act, gays and lesbians are not considered protected by the civil rights act (Roarty). People against gay marriage say that if same-sex marriage is legalized their own civil rights would be violated by being forced to treat gay couples like straight couples (Roarty). They say people should not be forced to pay tax dollars that are used to support something they believe is wrong (ProCon.org). The New Mexico Supreme Court decreed that accommodating different types of people was the price of citizenship in America (Roarty).
The main reason for the constitution is to ensure no one is discriminated against. One of the reasons countless homosexuals are pushing for legalization is for the government benefits, one being Social Security survivors benefits (Sprigg). However, the Social Security survivors benefits were originally intended for stay at home mothers, not for homosexual partners who both maintain well paying jobs; hence the strong opposition to allowing gays this right. Also, homosexuals want the government to give them the health insurance and be able to claim “dependents” on their taxes (Sprigg). The Supreme Court case Baker v. Vermont ruled that same-sex couples were entitled to the same rights as heterosexual couples were (ProCon.org). In Hawaii the case Baehr v. Miike ruled that the law against same-sex marriage might be unconstitutional sex discrimination. The case didn’t achieve marriage equality, but it brought up a major backlash (“Gay Marriage Debate”). The federal court ruled the defense of Marriage act unconstitutional in the US v. Windsor case and reinstated gay marriage in California with Hollingsworth v. Perry (Moscowitz 126). The fact that all of these cases have ruled in favor of same-sex marriage should prove that in order to uphold the constitution gay marriage cannot be banned.
The movement toward marriage equality is shifting and people are arguing that it with inevitably happen (Moscowitz 126). Zane is just a young child and he has to worry about whether the police will come arrest his moms and throw them in jail considering he thinks they are illegally married. Zane had been told in class that his mom’s relationship was against the law, even though they had a ceremony and celebration. He was sad and confused since he didn’t want the two people he loved the most, and who loved him the most, to go to jail just for the reason that one of them wasn’t a man (Lewis). Only ten states contain laws that allow gay couples to adopt (Jost “Should gay…”). The course Psychology of Race and Gender talks about various LGBT issues and discusses what the students in the class think about them. It brought surprising results. Overall the class was rather evenly split in terms of acceptance of gays and lesbians. However the majority of students viewed Female homosexuality differently than homosexuality between men. They viewed female homosexuality as an inferior form of sexuality, but male homosexuality as just plain wrong (Case). A study evaluated a class of students’ attitudes towards their own sexual behaviors and the behaviors of others. They found that there was a greater acceptance of others behaviors once the semester was over. After the class had finished, they did a follow up survey 2 years later and found that the students just continued to be increasingly more accepting of others sexuality (Case).
The gay rights movement has been around for a long time and is slowly opening peoples eyes. In 1969 police raids on gay bars were a common place and not thought of as something unjust and wrong. It marked the beginning of the Stonewall riots and the political movement for gay rights (ProCon.org). National public opinion polls show the growing support for same-sex marriage right and they support a wide range of equal protections as well (Moscowitz 126). Even President Obama supports gay marriage. He referenced the Stonewall riots and said that the gay rights movement was equal to the women’s movement and the civil rights movement in the 1960’s (Moscowitz 126). The modern gay rights movement is a project for separating homosexuality from the sex and then from the politics (Moscowitz 127). Same-sex couples do not want to classify their relationship with a heterosexual title. They don’t label one person as the “wife” and the other as the “husband” (Badgett 90). Davina’s photographs of gay men and lesbians in wedding attire worked both to sharpen and blur the line between gay people and straight people (Moscowitz 128).
Over the past fifty years the gay movement has gone from unmentionable to having a group of highly educated and sophisticated professionals who present gay issues in the news (Moscowitz 130). There has been a plethora of cases in which people who had immediate negative reactions, morphed quickly into support. Judith is one such example. She initially had a negative reaction, but after witnessing a gay couple getting married and experiencing the same amount of excitement as she would for a heterosexual couple she shifted how she thought about same-sex marriage (Badgett 86). Senator Mark Grisanti of Buffalo used to be on an anti-gay marriage platform, but he switched saying “I apologize for those who feel offended. I cannot deny a person, a human being, a taxpayer, a worker, the people of my district and across this state, the State of New York, and those people who make this the great state that it is the same rights that I have with my wife” (Confessore and Barbaro, 2011). The UCLA law school estimated that there would be a positive economic impact and it would create 800 new jobs (ProCon.org). California has the nations largest racially diverse gay and lesbian population. The mayor of San Francisco even began ordering the city to issue marriage licenses to gay couples (ProCon.org).
All in all, legalizing same-sex marriage will have a positive effect on society since it won’t harm the institution of marriage, it will uphold the constitution, and it will inevitably happen either way. Over 20,000 same-sex couples have married in the Netherlands and it had no major negative cultural impact (Badgett 87). Not to mention the fact that denying same-sex marriage is sending a message that it is acceptable to discriminate against gays and lesbians (ProCon.org). In order for America to accurately follow its constitution and support everyone, legalizing same-sex marriage is a requirement.
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