Arguing to Inquire Term Paper

Pages: 6 (1731 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Family and Marriage

¶ … Gay Marriage

ARGUMENTS for and AGAINST LEGALIZING GAY MARRIAGE

Those opposed to legalizing gay marriage consider it a danger to the sanctity of traditional, monogamous marriage, and maintain that expanding the notion of formal marriage to homosexual couples is a "slippery slope" that could conceivably lead to the legalization of polygamous marriage, and possibly incestuous marriage, and ultimately, even to legalized bestiality (Kurtz, 2003). They suggest that restricting formal, state- sanctioned marriage to heterosexuals is necessary to continue promoting the virtues of monogamy and ensures healthy family units, which would be undermined by recognizing matrimonial relationships between individuals who cannot possibly fulfill the primary purpose of marriage: procreation. Likewise, those opposed to legalizing gay marriage believe that recognizing homosexual marriage communicates a societal message that adultery and casual sex are as acceptable as monogamous marriage and that this is harmful to society (Kurtz, 2003).

Opponents to legalized gay marriage point out that homosexuals are already allowed to enjoy their relationships, and that the law allows them all the same legal benefits as spouses of recognized marriages, because marriage is not a requirement to take out insurance policies on each other, to share property ownership jointly, to establish rights of survivorship, to grant each other powers of health care proxy, and to file appropriate paperwork to establish all the same rights and benefits as married couples.

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They believe that formal marriage is a state-defined concept and therefore, that the state may define the eligibility criteria for marriage, such as the minimum allowable age, degrees of relational separation, requirements for blood tests and waiting periods, and also, to restrict the institution of marriage to the union of one man and one woman, in keeping with the Christian values upon which this country was founded.

Term Paper on Arguing to Inquire Assignment

Proponents of legalizing gay marriage believe that legalizing gay marriage has absolutely no relevance at all to the sanctity of heterosexual marriage and no effect whatsoever on the institution of marriage in society, in general. They point out that there is no slippery slope in legalizing homosexual marriage, because homosexual marriage between two unrelated (human) individuals is no closer to marriages of more than two individuals, or to relationships between human beings and animals than is heterosexual marriage. They point out that the ability to procreate is not a valid criteria for determining who may marry and who may not, because the state allows heterosexual marriages without making any inquiry into whether couples are physically capable of having children or whether they intend to do so. Likewise, heterosexual couples often engage in adultery, and homosexual couples often choose to remain monogamous in their relationships.

Those in favor of legalizing gay marriage remind us that, while unmarried couples may file paperwork to secure some of the rights that are granted automatically by formal, state-sanctioned marriage, many states impose restrictions limiting some of those rights to married persons. They compare restricting marriage based on sexual orientation to historical laws that once prohibited marriage based on the respective race of the prospective partners much earlier in this country's history.

Similarly, they consider it inappropriate to maintain a legal definition of marriage that is based on any biblical teachings or religious beliefs, because that violates separation of Church and State.

Discussion of the Arguments:

It is difficult to understand the so-called "slippery slope" concern, because gay marriage does not involve any of the cited types of relationships mentioned in that argument. Polygamy, incest, and bestiality already take place in society without legalized gay marriage, and proponents of gay marriage are equally opposed to those practices. Mormon cultures in Utah, in particular, practice polygamy while absolutely prohibiting homosexuality, for just one example.

While ensuring healthy family units is a very worthwhile goal, more than half of all heterosexual marriages end in divorce, and domestic violence is predominantly a crime that, when it occurs, takes place within heterosexual marriage. Certainly, the state does have an interest in promoting healthy and safe home environments, but none of the fifty states requires prospective heterosexuals to undergo any kind of diagnosis or counseling about healthy family life before sanctioning their marriages.

Objectively, it is very difficult to understand the objection to legalizing gay marriage on the basis of procreative ability. Nowadays, many heterosexual married couples choose to remain childless. The state does not impose restrictions on marriage after menopause, either. If the only valid purpose for marriage were procreation, why would the state allow senior citizens to marry? Other couples remain married (even happily) despite the fact that they discover that one or both of them is infertile.

Sometimes, they choose to adopt, but then again, so do homosexual couples.

Furthermore, it is difficult to understand the argument that restricting marriage to heterosexual couples necessarily promotes marital fidelity, because single people (regardless of sexual orientation) tend to be more promiscuous than partnered people, whether or not they are formally married. Presumably, couples seeking to formalize their relationship into a state-recognized marriage do so as a way of declaring their mutual fidelity, regardless of their sexual orientation. To a certain extent, it may very well be true that homosexual men are more likely to be sexually promiscuous than heterosexuals, but (if true) that would seem to be much more a function of the fact that men, in general, are more promiscuous than women. Therefore, since (by definition) homosexual (male) partners are both men, they may have been more promiscuous while single than their heterosexual counterparts. However, by the same line of reasoning, one could argue that homosexual men who do, indeed, choose to marry despite their male predisposition toward promiscuity might be even more committed than heterosexual couples.

It is true that some states recognize domestic partnerships and that homosexuals in some of those states may make the same declaration as heterosexuals. It is also true that most of the benefits that are automatic in marriage are also available to unmarried people by filing the appropriate paperwork to secure certain rights. However, many states do not recognize domestic partnerships, and some states that do recognize them restrict them to heterosexuals

Even in states that do recognize domestic partnerships do not require some of the benefits that they require with respect to married partners. New Jersey, for example, does recognize domestic partnerships but does not require that employers provide health insurance for domestic partners, the way it requires health insurance for married spousal partners. In any case, even if some of the most important rights that are automatic in marriage are available to unmarried partners, it is hard to justify subjecting certain couples to greater difficulty in securing those rights, simply based on their sexual orientation. This, in fact, was the precise line of reasoning -- that there is no logical basis for establishing a "second class" of persons, or for denying the "dignity and equality of all persons equally -- at the heart of the landmark Massachusetts Supreme Court in striking down that state's ban on gay marriage in 2003 (Goodridge).

Certainly, the state is responsible for defining marital rights and for establishing the laws and criteria for the lawful benefits of marriage. Proponents of legalizing gay marriage are, generally, just as opposed to polygamy, incest, and bestiality as are their opponents. However, state definitions and legal criteria must be objective and applied equally to all persons. Prior to the civil rights movement of the 1960s, several states still prohibited marriages between different races. Since then, race has been recognized as a protected class against discrimination in employment, housing, and every other conceivable civil right. In several states, sexual orientation is also a protected class with respect to employment and housing.

Many states (and the federal government) do not prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation, but even the federal government does prohibit sexual orientation-based discrimination in the federal workforce. Still, by virtue of the fact that many states already recognize sexual orientation as a class of discrimination, it would seem to many that sexual orientation is already on its way to being a federally protected class, much the same as race was earlier in this century before the eventual success of the civil rights movement.

It is true that this nation was founded by people who considered themselves Christians, and that much of Western law originates with concepts that were originally laid out in biblical texts. However, one of the hallmarks of American society and its justice system is the separation of Church and State. It is, therefore, very difficult for an objective person to accept the belief that legal concepts such as marriage must, necessarily, adhere to biblical ideals. Certainly, everyone must be free to worship (or not to worship) as he wishes, and that includes satisfying the requirements of his church in defining the elements of a valid marriage within one's religious faith. It would seem that constitutional principles like Equal Protection and Separation of Church and State would prohibit imposing the religious beliefs -- even of the majority -- on anyone outside… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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