Same-Sex Marriages and Federal Recognition
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The United States has always been a country that people from all over the world have flocked to, to avoid the hardships and the tyrannies of their native lands. We pride ourselves on being the “land of the free”, and yet we cannot seem to give the simple right of marriage to the members of our gay community. The very first lines of the document of which our country was founded upon states that: “All men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
Is the right to marry whom you wish not a part of each of these rights listed? The homosexual community are discriminated against in the fact that they are not allowed to marry and have a long-lasting, positive relationship, just the same as their fellow heterosexual Americans. As this problem continues to be argue and discussed, more people are seeing that our homosexual population does in fact deserve the right to marry and take part in the federal benefits that go with marriage. Sadly, however, there are still people that do not find that idea to be a good one. Gay marriage should be legalized and recognized by the federal government for many reasons, but mostly because homosexuality is not something that someone chooses, and for the many benefits that married homosexual couples could bring.
Historical and Conceptual Background
Homosexuals as a people throughout history have been present in our lives. They are our mail carriers, our doctors, and even our congress members. Most of the time we do not ever know that a person is gay because of the hate that our world has shown them. I urge you to ask yourself what really makes them different as our fellow man; except for with whom they decide to share their love. Federal government should recognize the union of a same-sex couples the same way in which they recognize that of an opposite-sex couple because as humans, and United States citizens, same-sex couples deserve to share their lives with whomever they chose, and not have to live in fear of oppression and bigotry. It is unconstitutional for the government to deny the rights that this county has worked so hard to establish. As Ellen Degeneres said in a conversation with Senator John McCain, “It just feels like there is this old way of thinking that we are not all the same; we are all the same people.
All of us. You’re no different than I am.” One very important factor in the determination of rights for homosexuals is whether or not being homosexual is in fact something that is biological in nature, or if it is simply a choice that some people make. There are of course many different views on the topic. There is the group who believes that being gay is a choice – this group mostly consists of conservatives and religious sects – and those who say that homosexuality is purely biological, whose members include most homosexuals and gay rights activists. Michael Abrams, a writer for discover magazine, “whether or not a gay gene, a set of gay genes, or some other biological mechanism is ever found, one thing is clear: The environment a child grows up in has nothing to do with what makes most gay men gay. Two of the most convincing studies have proved conclusively that sexual orientation in men has a genetic cause.”
One of these two studies that he speaks of are those of William Reiner, whose studies look at the environmental influences of children who had undergone transgender operations at birth because of genetic defects. Most of these children were raised as girls and not told about their surgeries. Results show that all of the transgender children grew up being attracted to women, even though the environment in which they were raised urged them to be attracted to men as if a woman “should” be (Abrams). This study proves that the environment that one has been raised in has nothing to do with their sexual identity, therefore proving that homosexuality has at least some genetic cause. Now, the conservative side to the gay marriage debate argues that allowing same sex marriage is granting a “special right” because unlike gender or race, homosexuality is a “chosen behavior” (Cline).
This claim is greatly unwarranted, based on the research that has been done, such as the evidence given above, that homosexuality does in fact have a biological nature to it, and therefore is not a “chosen behavior” as most conservative Americans tend to claim. Because of this evidence, it shows that not allowing gay marriage is in fact unconstitutional because being gay is in fact an “immutable characteristic” just the same as gender or race. This is the biggest reason that Gay marriage should in fact be a federally recognized process. During my research, the most common reason that I have found as to why same-sex marriage should not be legalized is because it goes against the teachings of the bible. This, however, should hold no weight in a federal court because of the separation of religion and state. The popular argument is that the bible defines a marriage as between a man and a woman. Kristen Powers, a freelance writer, puts it perfectly when she asserts, “we don’t live in a theocracy. The Bible is not the governing legal document of the United States. The Constitution is.” Social Consequences
Homosexuals also provide many benefits to communities and the country in general. For example, they provide a loving, caring household for children to grow up in. Some people tend to believe that a child raised with homosexual parents will invariably be at a developmental disadvantage. However, studies show that “adolescents who lived with two mothers were compared with [those] who were raised by a mother and a father. No differences between the two groups were found in peer relations, academic performance, personal adjustment, and health related behaviors…” (Gartrell and Bos 2). Another study shows that “same-gender couples are as nurturing and capable of parental obligations as other couples.
Despite the pervasive conception that having same-sex parents would be detrimental to a child’s upbringing, a study of fifty-five children – nineteen raised by lesbian couples, ten by single mothers, and twenty-six by heterosexual couples – found uniformity among the categories vis-à-vis social skills, well-being, and academic performance” (Wydra). With this information, we can see that homosexual couples are in fact good parents, unlike what some people would choose to believe. What is truly interesting is how people such as murderers, mobsters, thieves, drug addicts, and child abusers all can have children with only minimal resistance from the community (Bidstrup). Many of these people have custody of their children without any protests from the community whatsoever. As soon as the community finds out that a homosexual couple has a child, however, there is an uproar.
People seem to think that same-sex couples are incapable of being good parents. Communities want good households for their children to be raised in, and yet by not allowing same-sex couples that have children to be married and federally recognized, we are taking away things such as insurance for the family and add many more “societal supports that their families [currently] lack” (Otto) Without these things, no family – heterosexual or not – can function to the fullest extent, so denying these things to homosexual couples is directly detrimental to the wellbeing of the child. Gay marriage could also have financial benefits to the states, with the sales of a marriage licenses. A marriage license in Washington State is approximately fifty-two dollars to obtain. Those fifty-two dollars go to the state, so every marriage that is completed in the state of Washington will give the state an extra fifty-two dollars.
So wouldn’t the state of Washington want as much extra funding they can get? In 2008, when San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsome allowed same-sex marriages, approximately eighteen-thousand same-sex marriages just between May and November were performed (Gay). Now let us imagine that if Washington State were to start issuing marriage licenses to homosexual couples and that the state would perform the same number of same-sex marriages that California had in that short seven months in a year. Washington would receive an approximate nine-hundred and thirty-six thousand dollars per year, just from same sex marriages. States have to pay federal taxes to the state, which means that if the federal government were to recognize gay marriages, the federal government would have a considerably larger amount of money than they do right now. That should be more than enough reason for our federal government to be okay with recognizing same-sex marriages.
The only law that is in place that federally defines a marriage between a man and a woman is The Defense Against Marriage Act (DOMA). Even this law, however, is being put under “heightened scrutiny” as suggested by the Obama administration who no longer defends DOMA. The “heightened scrutiny” that DOMA is being placed under will decide the constitutionality of the law: “Courts will not engage hypotheticals about procreation and childrearing; they will directly confront the issue of whether such views are a permissible basis for discrimination, or whether they are what [Attorney General Eric] Holder called ‘stereotype-based thinking and animus'” (Roosevelt). The fourteenth amendment to the United States constitution states that “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.
No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” Is creating a law that bans two members of our country not in direct violation of this amendment? Surely taking away the freedom to marry whom you choose is depriving certain persons of the United States life and liberty. Liberty, as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary, is “The condition of being able to act or function without hindrance or restraint; faculty or power to do as one likes.” DOMA’s ban on same sex marriage is doing the exact opposite of this. It is oppression.
The same type of oppression from which the founders of our country were fleeing from when they came to America. Religious opponents to gay marriage say that being homosexual is a choice and that providing these rights would be providing “special rights” and not civil rights. Is religion not a choice? One does not simply wake up one day and say, “Hey, I’m a Mormon!” Some special rights themselves protect some same religions who are in such feverous opposition to same-sex marriage. Christian churches, for example, are allowed to administer alcohol to minors because it is a religious rite, and an important part of the church’s function. But, it is a “special right” that allows the church to operate in such a way. Without these “special rights” the churches that are against gay marriage, would no longer be able to operate in the same way that they have operated for millennia.
Abrams, Michael. “Born Gay?.” Discover 28.(2007): 58-83. Academic Search Premier EBSCO. Cline, Austin. “Equal Rights vs. Special Rights: Guaranteeing Civil Equality Does Not Mean Granting Special Privileges.” About.com. n.d. Ellen Degeneres vs. John McCain: Gay Marriage. 22 May 2008. YouTube. Gartrell, Nanette and Henery Bos. “U.S. National Longitudinal
Lesbian Family Study: Psychological Adjustment of 17-Year-Old Adolecents.” Pediatrics: Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. 7 June, 2010. 1-9. Gay Marriage. Procon.org, 23 Feb. 2011.
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