At present, society appears to have accepted homosexuality and the lifestyle that comes with it. The media has obviously embraced this, as evident from the television shows, the gay themes in both music and movies, even from the apparent celebrity revelations of their sexual orientations. However, when the issue of gay marriage comes up, the notion of acceptance seems to be disproved. A significant number of people immediately oppose to the idea of gay marriage, as they believe that marriage is an institution for heterosexuals.
This research paper aims to argue for homosexual marriages by proving that marriage is not only the domain of heterosexuals. Many arguments have been presented against the authorization of gay marriages. Consequently, there are also corresponding arguments against those said arguments. One notable argument is that homosexual marriages should be forbidden because these are unnatural relations (Moore, 2001). Homosexual relationships are considered “unnatural” (Romans 1:26, The Devotional Study Bible). In addition, it is established that the purpose of marriage is procreation.
Because homosexuals cannot procreate, they must not be allowed to marry (Moore, 2001). If procreation is the only factor considered in marriage, homosexuals would not be the only people exempted from the said institution. According to Eskridge (1996), if procreation was the basis of marriage, there would be a list of those which should not get married. That list would include couples wherein one or both of the people involved are infertile or barren (Eskridge, 1996). If procreation is the main consideration, the state should also prohibit post menopausal women from getting married.
However, this is not the status quo. Individuals with no capacity for procreation are still allowed by the state to get married. Just like homosexuals, these individuals also do not have the capacity to procreate. Therefore, just like these individuals, gays and lesbians must be afforded the same opportunity. Eskridge (1996) notes that there are other things to consider when marriage is spoken of: these included “interpersonal commitment, religious or moral expression, sexual satisfaction, and the legal entitlements associated with spousehood” (p. 96).
Another argument that opposes gay marriage states that to authorize homosexual unions would undermine the established tradition of marriage (Moore, 2001). However, the very tradition of marriage is questionable. Graff (1999) points out that, through human history, the tradition of marriage has not been followed. The notion of traditional marriage is as such: it is the union between two people in love, a union recognized by both religion and law (Graff, 1999). This notion is rendered false on many accounts. For example, Jacob was the father of the heads of twelve tribes (Graff, 1999).
He did not have one wife; he had two, plus two other concubines. Meanwhile, early Christian and European marriages are neither blessed by religion nor authorized by law. Lastly, medieval marriages were more about financial matters than loving relationships. There is no such thing as a traditional marriage because the concept varies depending on culture and period (Moore, 2001). Hence, to use the argument of traditional marriage against homosexual unions would prove futile. Another argument used to target same-sex marriages has something to do with parenting.
Some Conservatives argue that gay marriage must not be legitimized because parenting of gay couples will have significant consequences on the children they raised (Moore, 2001). It is believed that having homosexual parents are disadvantageous to a child’s upbringing. This belief is disproved by experts, as their findings reveal that in terms of the well-being and development of the child, there is no significant difference between those who were raised by heterosexuals and those raised by homosexuals (Sullivan ; Baques, 1999).
According to Sullivan and Baques (1999), “the assumption that a gay and lesbian orientation is anathema to child rearing reflects homophobia and the idealization of a particular family structure that is assumed to be morally superior” (p. 82). The issue of homosexual parenting also brings forth an issue similar to that of traditional marriage. People believe that the best environment for a child’s upbringing is a “heterosexual household” (Moore, 2001). Families which consist of homosexual partners and their children are considered as unusual because they do fit in the mold of a traditional American family (Moore, 2001).
Unfortunately, most children do not belong to what people refer to as the “traditional” family life. Statistics show that 25 percent of children are born to young single mothers who are poor and part of the minority (Bureau of Census as cited in Moore, 2001). It was also found that of all marriages, half lead to divorce. In the United States, only 26 percent of children grow up under the care of married parents (Bureau of Census as cited in Moore, 2001). Therefore, it would be illogical to use the argument of traditional family against homosexual marriages because that tradition no longer holds.
After debunking the arguments against marriage, the arguments for gay marriage must be discussed. To begin with, making gay marriage illegal is against the law (Moore, 2001). It is against the Fifth Amendment, specifically the Due Process Clause. The prohibition of same-sex marriage is a form of discrimination as it “discriminates on the basis of sex because it makes one’s ability to marry depend on one’s gender” (American Civil Liberties Union [ACLU], 1998, p. 14). It is important to point out that there is nothing in the Constitution that would provide grounds for the prohibition of gay marriages (Moore, 2001).
Consequently, the Due Process Clause provides a basis for its legalization. Arendt notes that “political rights, like the right to vote, and nearly all other rights enumerated in the Constitution, are secondary to the inalienable human rights to ‘life, liberty and pursuit of happiness’… and to this category the right to home and marriage unquestionably belongs” (as cited in Moore, 2001). Homosexuals should not be denied the right to marry because marriage falls under the ‘life, liberty and pursuit of happiness’ (Moore, 2001).
Every individual, regardless of their sexual orientation, have the right and freedom to pursue that which makes him or her happy. Gays and lesbians have the same rights as heterosexuals under the United States Constitution; the right to marry and have a family must be applicable to homosexuals as well. Therefore, the legitimization of gay marriage must be enacted. Just as homosexuals must be allowed to get married, they must also be granted the same rights as those granted to heterosexual married couples.
The New Jersey Law Journal enumerates the benefits that come with marriages that are recognized by the law. These are as follows: “access to a spouse’s medical, life and disability insurance; hospital visitation and medical decision-making privileges… workers’ compensation survivor benefits; spousal benefits under annuity and retirement plans…the right to refuse to testify against one’s spouse…” (New Jersey Law Journal as cited in Moore, 2001). These rights are granted to heterosexual couples because their marriage is legally acknowledged.
In turn, homosexuals are deprived of these rights because they are deprived of their right to commit to their partners through marriage. Again, the result is discrimination. Not everyone can share the same rights and benefits under the law because government refuses to grant the gay community their right to marry. To uphold the rights of every individual as indicated in the Constitution, homosexuals must be allowed to marry to legitimize their commitment to their respective partners. The legitimization of gay marriage would also grant them the rights that are currently denied to them.
The current trends reveal that while there are already steps made in the legitimization of gay marriage, there are still much to be done before it can be formally established. In Vermont, what is referred to as “civil union” was legalized by the court; this institution granted homosexuals the same rights and benefits that were granted to heterosexuals (Moore, 2001). However, this posits a problem. While “civil union” has the same characteristics of marriage, it is not called “marriage”.
Though the legalization of civil unions can be considered as progress for the gay community, the creation of an institution specifically for homosexuals would prove problematic. A different institution for homosexuals would only verify their inferior status in society. This is similar to the “separate but equal” policy upheld in relation to race (as cited in Moore, 2001). Separation is itself an example of inequality. To assign a separate institution for gays and lesbians is similar to the past segregation of races (Moore, 2001). Both cases of separation are unlawful.
Therefore, separation is not the answer to the problem of gay marriage. Instead, the answer lies in allowing gays and lesbians to marry just like their heterosexual counterparts. The most recent development in the legitimization of gay marriage occurred in California. Last May, the California Supreme Court had lifted the ban on gay marriages (Dolan, 2008). The justices agreed that every person, homosexual or not, has the “right to marry” (Dolan, 2008). They also agreed that the restriction of marriage on the basis of gender violates the California Constitution, specifically the equal protection clause.
Through the lifting of the ban, homosexuals now have the opportunity to fully commit themselves to their partners, a commitment that would be legally recognized. Marriage is not merely a domain of heterosexuals. Homosexuals must also be granted the opportunity to get married and create a family. After all, this is their right. While there are many arguments that oppose gay marriage, these arguments have already been debunked and disproved. In the end, Gay marriages must be legitimized, as to do the contrary would be a violation of human rights.