Same-Sex Marriage in Defense Essay

Pages: 10 (3358 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 13  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Women's Issues - Sexuality

Same-Sex Marriage

In Defense of Marriage

To some people, the mere mention of the words "gay" and "marriage" in the same sentence are like red flags to a bull. They rant and rave that same-sex marriage is wrong and threaten a backlash against the gay and lesbian community if activists seek marital rights. While it may have been easy to dismiss those types of statements as right-wing propaganda, the results of election 2004, in which the voters of many states enacted legislation prohibiting gay marriage, have made a number of people, both within and without of the gay community, make it impossible to simply dismiss the statements.

The arguments against gay marriage are complicated and multi-faceted. Opponents of gay marriage state that marriage has historically been a union between one man and one woman. In addition, they cite religious objections to allowing same-sex unions. A related objection is that homosexuality, and therefore legally recognizing homosexual relationships, is immoral. Critics of gay marriage also maintain that allowing gays to marry will weaken and threaten the institution of marriage. A final objection to gay marriage is that gay people do not have a right to a legally recognized marriage with a partner of the same sex.

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Proponents for gay marriage answer those arguments with arguments of their own. They state that marriage has not historically been a union between one man and one woman. They challenge people to find support for their claims that a religion prohibits a marriage between a man and a woman. Furthermore, they assert that denying them the right to a legal marriage forces them to engage in immoral behavior in order to enjoy a fundamental human right. Finally, they point to the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment (U.S. Const Amend XIV) and related law to demonstrate that they are being denied legally protected rights by being denied the right to a legal marriage.

Essay on Same-Sex Marriage in Defense of Marriage to Assignment

Both sides of the issue make powerful arguments. With such an emotionally charged issue, those powerful statements are often taken at face value, polarizing people and keeping them from engaging in their own meaningful investigation of the issue. The problem with that reality is that a closer examination of the issue reveals the facts behind the rhetoric and makes it clear that same-sex partners are entitled to the same legal recognition of their marriages as heterosexual couples.

The most seemingly innocuous argument of those opposed to gay marriage is that marriage has historically been a union between one man and one woman. That position is gaining support from many people, from small-town American voters, to Vatican City (Semple). The problem is that the position just is not factually inaccurate and it is only recently that marriage has become synonymous with the union between two willing adults of the opposite sex.

In addition to the standard nuclear family, some historical marriage types include: polygamous marriage, levirate marriage, purchasing wives, concubinage. The most familiar of the differing marital types are polygamous marriages, which involve one husband married to multiple wives. Not only were polygamous marriages popular in so-called ancient times, but they are still practiced in many countries around the world. Levirate marriage refers to an ancient practice whereby widowed women were required to marry one of their brother-in-law after the death of the woman's husband (Robinson, "Types of Marriage"). Levirate marriages were often combined with polygamy because the obligation of the husband's brother did not cease just because the brother was already married. Therefore, the idea that marriage is a union between only two people is not accurate.

Furthermore, same-sex marriage is not a modern concept:

tomb of a same sex gay married couple Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep was discovered in 1964 in the necropolis of Saqqara, Egypt. The tomb dates to the Fifth Dynasty (circa 2,500 BCE), and shows that homosexual marriages date back over 4 millennia (Robinson, "Why are Couples").

In addition, both the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches used ceremonies similar to those used to marry heterosexual couples to sanctify homosexual unions (Robinson, "Why are Couples"). Furthermore, there are countries that currently recognize same-sex marriages, including the Netherlands and two Canadian provinces (Semple). In addition, Denmark has long recognized registered partnerships for same-sex couples (Bartlett 459). Therefore, the argument that marriage has historically been limited to a union between one man and one woman is simply not accurate.

Morality is another one of the frequently cited arguments against gay marriage. Moral objections differ from religious objections in that morals and values, while oftentimes encompassed in formal religions and as part of a person's spiritual beliefs, can exist outside of the context of both religion and spirituality. The answer to the moral objection is simple: if someone finds it immoral for people of the same sex to marry, then they should not marry someone of the same sex. At first blush that answer may appear simplistic, however it is the same answer given to people that have moral objections to a number of other legal behaviors: imbibing alcoholic beverages, donating or receiving donated blood and organs, dancing, eating certain foods, physically disciplining children, swearing, abortion, the use of birth control, interracial marriage, selling or purchasing pornographic materials, and divorce, to name a few. Each of those legal rights is considered immoral by at least one subgroup of persons within the United States, and because they live in American, they have every right to have those beliefs. However, they do not have the right to allow their own ideas of morality dictate what other people consider immoral.

The rejoinder to the above argument is that people have traditionally legislated against behavior that is considered immoral. As long as there have been criminal laws, there have been laws prohibiting murder and theft. Today, few people question the propriety of those laws or of laws that prohibit sexual assaults, child molestation, or driving while intoxicated. However, to equate those types of laws with laws prohibiting same-sex marriage ignores the fact that there is no victim in a same-sex marriage. The concept of same-sex marriage presupposes that the participants are both willing adults. The moralists may argue that society itself is victimized when gay marriages are allowed. However, that argument also fails. There has been no evidence of a detrimental effect on family, marriage, or society in general from those countries that recognize same-sex marriages. Furthermore, the same argument could be made for the other morality issues, but the alleged injury to society is too far removed to pass legislation preventing others from exercising their fundamental freedoms. One of the prices for a free society is that all people are entitled to the same basic freedoms and considerations. Therefore, it is unrealistic to construct legislation based on one group's view of morality where there is no support that the legislation could or would prevent an alleged harm.

The laws and the Constitution of the United States are not tools to be used to dictate to people that they be forced to engage in immoral behavior in order to enjoy a fundamental human right. Prohibiting same-sex marriages forces those homosexuals who believe that it is immoral to engage in sexual relationships outside of marriage to choose between their faith and the basic human desire for companionship. No other group is forced to make the same choice. While some people object to same-sex marriage on the grounds that they find it immoral, there is no danger that any person who finds same-sex marriage will ever be forced to participate in a same-sex marriage. On the other hand, denying homosexuals the right to legally marry does force homosexuals to choose a sexual relationship without the benefit of marriage, which many people in all communities consider immoral.

The moral argument is generally used as a precursor or a supporting argument for the real issue: religion and religious objections to same-sex marriage. In America, the majority of religious arguments against homosexual marriage are based on a Christian point-of-view, therefore this paper will concentrate on the arguments made for and against gay-marriage that are based on Christianity and the Bible. However, the writer has been unable to locate any references condemning same-sex marriage in the holy books of any of the major religions.

Conservative Christians believe that "homosexuality is a chosen, unnatural, abnormal and changeable perverted lifestyle, which is hated by God" (Robinson, "Same-Sex"). Admittedly, there are some passages in the Bible where it appears that God is condemning people participating in homosexual relationships. However, same-sex marriage is not mentioned in the Bible (Robinson, "Types of Marriages"). Therefore, there is no Bible-based argument against same-sex marriage. In contrast, the Bible contains arguments against the institution of marriage itself. Both Jesus and Paul promote celibacy over marriage (Robinson, "Types of Marriages"). However, few people make the argument that those who are not celibate are immoral.

Furthermore, the Bible favorably mentions several couples that appear to be part of long-term, committed homosexual relationships. There is no conclusive evidence that these people were involved… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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