Marriage: A Human Right, Not A Heterosexual Privilege
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As of November 7, 2012, gay marriage has been legalized in nine U.S. states (Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Washington) including the District of Columbia. However, thirty-one states have constitutional amendments banning gay marriage and six states have laws banning gay marriage. There are many arguments surrounding this controversy that express extremely different opinions regarding supposed outcomes and benefits that would come along with legalizing gay marriage.
Opponents argue that legalizing gay marriage will only whither traditional marriage. According to the Constitution and the Bible, the institution of marriage has been defined as between one man and one woman. In the 1971 decision of Baker v Nelson, the Supreme Court ruled that “The institution of marriage as a union of man and woman, uniquely involving the procreation and rearing of children within a family, is as old as the book of Genesis.”
In a religious point of view, gay marriage is not compatible with the beliefs and traditions of many religious groups. Despite teaching that homosexuals deserve respect, the Catholic Church opposes gay marriage and the social acceptance of homosexuality and same-sex relationships. As the pope said, “No other form of relationship between persons can be considered as an equivalent to this natural relationship between a man and a woman out of whose love children are born.” In an economic point of view, gay marriage would entitle gay couples to typical marriage benefits including claiming a tax exemption for a spouse, receiving social security payments from a deceased spouse, and coverage by a spouse’s health insurance policy.
Supporters argue that legalizing gay marriage is, in fact, protected by the Constitution’s commitment to liberty and equality. In the 1974 decision of Cleveland Board of Education v LaFleur, the Supreme Court ruled that “freedom of personal choice in matters of marriage and family life is one of the liberties protected by the Due Process Clause.” On August 4, 2010, US District Judge Vaughn Walker states that Prop 8 in California was “unconstitutional under both the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses.”
From an economic point of view, the economy can benefit from gay marriage because gay marriages can bring financial gain to state and local governments. For example, the Comptroller for New York City found that legalizing gay marriage would bring $142 million to the City’s economy and $184 million to the State’s economy over three years. From a religious point of view, even though the Bible does address homosexuality, it never explicitly mentions gay marriage. Reverend Susan Russell says, “Jesus never said a single word about anything even remotely connected to homosexuality.” Also, one of the arguments on the opposition side is that same-sex marriage is not allowed because there is no way for reproduction. If that were the case, then infertile couples should not be allowed to be married. Ability or desire to create offspring has never been a qualification for marriage.
Same-sex marriage is a civil right. The 1967 Supreme Court case Loving v. Virginia confirmed that marriage is “one of the basic civil rights of man,” and same-sex marriages should receive the same protections given to interracial marriages by that ruling. And honestly, it should not be anyone’s concern if a same-sex couple is married; two people who love each other should be allowed to publicly celebrate their commitment.