25 November, 2012
Essay 5 Research Paper
One of the most hotly debated issue today being played out in the American court system is the proposed legalization of same-sex marriage. If legalized, it could be one of the most revolutionary policy decisions in the history of America, along with women’s rights, interracial marriage, and slavery. The country is divided with people who are opposed and feel it is morally and ethically wrong and others who feel that same-sex marriages are acceptable.
What exactly is marriage? Authors David Spaulding and Jay Freeberg's essay titled Marriage Equality in New York and beyond: to love, cherish, and tax state that “The federal statute defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman.” They also state that the “Defense of Marriage Act, established in 1996, goes so far as saying that, under the law, no U.S. state or political subdivision is required to recognize a same-sex marriage treated as a marriage in another state.” The concept of same sex marriage first became popular in the 1970s as gay and lesbian couples began to consider permanent unions reflecting traditional marriages between men and women. This concept grew to national importance in the 1990s as opposing political viewpoints of the country began to voice their disregard for same sex couples that, in their opinion, were disrespecting the traditional institution of marriage in the United States. In the essay titled Gay Rights, the author points out:
Over the last several decades, gay rights advocates have made significant strides in better protecting homosexuals from discrimination, violence, and exlusion. However, many people assert that gays continue to experience discrimination on a scale unequaled by almost any other minority population. Despite the hard won gains that now allow many in the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community (often abbreviated as GLBT or LGBT)- including those serving as elected officials, in high-profile business roles, and in the military- to be open about their sexuality, they are still denied what gay rights advocates contend is one of the most basic rights that heterosexual Americans take for granted: the right to marry and have that marriage recognized by the U.S. And state governments. Indeed, in recent years, dozens of states and jurisdictions have passed legislation explicitly outlawing same-sex marriage, while several others-including Connecticut, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, and Washington, D.C.-have legalized the practice.
There are two complaints here. First, homosexuals do not have the same legal liberties heterosexuals have. Second, homosexual couples do not have the same legal benefits as married couples. The first complaint is not accurate. Any homosexual can marry in any state and receive every one of the privileges and benefits of state sanctioned marriage. He just does not have the right to marry someone of the same sex. For homosexuals this is an unsatisfactory response but, regardless, it is a legitimate one. There is no legal inequality, only an inequality of desire, but that is not the government's concern. Denying homosexual's the right to marry a same-sex partner is not a violation of the equal protection clause it is just merely an inconvenience. The second complaint is more significant. It is true that homosexual couples do not have the same legal benefits as married heterosexuals regarding taxation, family leave, health care, hospital visitation, inheritance, etc. However, there are ways around some of these problems. Some states have provisions for these very issues. Thankfully, there are an abundance of lawyers that can direct them in the right direction.
Secondly, opponents argue that by opening the door to same-sex marriage, it puts our society down a dangerous path in which other individuals might try to argue in support of more sinister unions. The