Same Sex Marriage Term Paper

Pages: 11 (3506 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 11  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Women's Issues - Sexuality

¶ … Same Sex Marriage

There are not many social issues in the United States that are more controversial than same sex marriage. The idea of two men or two women getting married in a legal environment appalls certain cultural, religious, and ethnic groups, while other groups believe sanctioning same sex marriage is the just thing to do, and that same sex marriage should be legalized to enforce a couple's civil rights. This paper reviews pertinent literature regarding the opposition to same sex marriage by ethnic groups, by religious groups; it also reviews groups that support same sex marriage, and the politics on both sides of the issues. In addition the bias against gay and lesbian people is also covered in This paper.

What is Homophobia? What are Hate Crimes?

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According to psychology professor G.M. Herek -- writing in the Journal of Homosexuality -- homophobia is a term used to describe "…hostile reactions to lesbians and gay men" and it implies a kind of "unidimensional construct of attitudes as expressions of irrational fears" (Herek, 1984, p. 1). In other words it is not rational to have feelings of hatred towards people who are gay and lesbian. Herek, in the Psychology Department at the University of California at Davis, breaks homophobia down into three social / psychological attitudes: a) the "experiential" approach to hating gays and lesbians which is based on previous interactions with homosexual persons; b) the "defensive" position is one in which a person is "coping with one's inner conflicts or anxieties by projecting them onto homosexual persons"; and c) "symbolic" homophobia is when a person expresses an "abstract ideological concept" that is linked to "one's notion of self and to one's social network and reference groups" (Herek, 1).

Term Paper on Same Sex Marriage There Are Not Many Assignment

In a 1989 article in the scholarly publication American Psychologist, professor Herek explains that antigay hate crimes (words / actions that are meant to "harm or intimidate individuals because they are lesbian or gay") have been experienced by a reported 92% of gay men and lesbians (Herek, 1989, p. 948). Up to 24% of lesbians and gay men have reported "physical attacks" specifically due their sexual orientation. When the AIDS pandemic became a major health concern throughout the world in the 1980s, incidents of violent hate crimes perpetrated against gay men and lesbians increased in frequency, Herek explains.

When a lesbian or a gay male is targeted by a hate crime, there are "multiple levels of victimization," according to an article in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence (Berrill, et al., 1990, p. 401). Certainly the victim that is targeted with the hate action is negatively affected; but beyond the initial blunt emotional or physical attack, the person targeted faces "secondary victimization" (Berrill, 401). Those secondary victimizations -- resulting from "societal heterosexism" -- include: a) "losing one's job"; b) being evicted from one's place of residence; and c) being denied "public services or accommodations once one's sexual orientation is disclosed" due to the hate crime attack.

In other words, victims of hate crimes (gay men and lesbians), once their circumstances are public, are considered "outed" (no long in the proverbial closet), and then additional discriminatory actions and attitudes can be perpetrated against them, Berrill explains.

Same Sex Marriage -- Legal in Six States & the District of Columbia

In June 2011, New York became the sixth state to make same sex marriage legal. According to The New York Times, the final vote in the New York State Senate was 33 to 29, and that vote was favorable for same sex marriage only because four Republicans joined "all but one Democrat" and made the majority that was necessary (Confessore, et al., 2011).

One of the reasons for the change of heart in New York -- two years ago similar legislation was soundly defeated in the Senate -- was that Governor Andrew M. Cuomo made passing this legislation a top priority for his administration, and he helped create a coalition of same sex marriage supporters. Also, Cuomo helped to "…supervise a $3 million television and radio campaign aimed at persuading several Republican and Democratic senators" to swing over to the "pro" side of the debate (Confessore, p. 1).

Now New York joins the District of Columbia, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont as the only states in America that have laws allowing same sex marriage.

The Roman Catholic Church has steadfastly opposed same sex marriage throughout the long debate on this issue, and has considered homosexuality to be sinful (additional information on the Church's position later in this paper). In New York, the Catholic bishops issued a joint statement in response to the bill to legalize same sex marriage; the bishops take issue because they assert the legislation will "…alter radically and forever humanity's historic understanding of marriage" and this left the bishops "…deeply disappointed and troubled" (Confessore, p. 3).

The lone Democrat to oppose the bill, State Senator Ruben Diaz of the Bronx, who resented the two-minute time limit on speeches, shouted, "You don't want to hear me," then asserted that "God, not Albany, has settled the definition of marriage, a long time ago" (Confessore, p. 3).

Homosexuality / Same Sex Marriage and Churches in America

According to authors Robert Nugent and Jeannine Gramick, homosexuality has been compared to "…a fishbone caught in the church's throat," and the conundrum is that the church can't reject the bone, nor can it "swallow" the bone entirely (Nugent, et al., 1989, p. 7). Nugent is a Roman Catholic priest that has been ministering for gay people in the church since 1971. He explains that traditionally the Roman Catholic Church has put forward the doctrine that "genital sexuality is good and moral only within a heterosexual, monogamous union" that is at least "potentially biologically procreative" (Nugent, p. 9). Moreover, the Church only recognizes a heterosexual union based on "mutual love and fidelity" and sanctioned legally (presumably by government), Nugent continues (9).

Catholic literature condemns "homogenital expression" and claims that homosexuality is a "condition" that is "objectively disordered" because within a homosexual relationship there can be no procreative results (if the couple cannot produce children, i.e., more members of the Roman Catholic Church, it is not a legitimate union in the view of the Church).

On the subject of the Roman Catholic Church and gay rights / same sex marriage, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court basically authorized same sex marriages as legal and binding when they voted 4-3 in 2003 (in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health). The major differences between the Court's view and the Catholic view in Massachusetts is instructive because it defines the central clash between the Catholic Church and same sex marriage advocates.

The Court, according to Maurice T. Cunningham, saw the argument in terms of all the social and legal benefits that are denied to gay people who wish to marry. "Hundreds of statutes relate to marriage and its benefits, many concerning property rights" like tax laws, probate laws, protection from creditors, insurance issues (Cunningham, 2005, p. 20). Moreover, the Court explained, the statutory rights that gay couples are denied include: "marital privilege, bereavement, child custody, and a panoply of other non-property related rights," Cunningham continues (20). Also, children of married couples enjoy economic, social, and legal protections, and hence these protections, plus the earlier mentioned statutes, amount to declaring the marriage as "a civil right" (Cunningham, 20).

The Court's statement in that context left no doubt as to how the Massachusetts highest court views the same sex marriage issue: "Without the right to marry -- or more properly, the right to choose to marry -- one is excluded from the full range of human experience," the Court asserted (Cunningham, 20). In addition, the Court also pointed out that denying the right to marry to select couples amounts to denying "…full protection of the laws for one's 'avowed commitment to an intimate and lasting human relationship'" (Cunningham, 20).

The Court in Massachusetts takes a civil rights stand on the issue: the Court sees marriage "as the union of two consenting adults of opposite or same gender" and "not the begetting of children" as the "sine qua non-of civil marriage" (Cunningham, 22). Meanwhile the "Catholic Action League" (CAL), a special interest organization of the Roman Catholic Church -- an organization that tried to amend the Massachusetts constitution to turn back the Court's ruling in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health -- argued marriage is the "foundation of the family" and that children have an "exalted position in God's plan for man and woman" (Cunningham, 22).

In addition to the position of the Court previously outlined in this paper, the Massachusetts High Court notes that opposition to same sex marriage is not "rooted in rationality" but rather in "persistent prejudices against persons who are (or who are believed to be) homosexual" (Cunningham, 22).

On the opposite side of the Catholic beliefs, the Quaker faith views homosexuality as "fully equal with heterosexuality," Nugent explains on page 10. On page 11 the author writes that… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Same Sex Marriage" Term Paper in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Same Sex Marriage.  (2011, November 17).  Retrieved March 31, 2020, from

MLA Format

"Same Sex Marriage."  17 November 2011.  Web.  31 March 2020. <>.

Chicago Style

"Same Sex Marriage."  November 17, 2011.  Accessed March 31, 2020.