The institution of marriage has traditionally been defined as between a man and a woman. In the Oct. 15, 1971 decision Baker v. Nelson (186 KB) , the Supreme Court of Minnesota found 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.” Varnum v. Brien, 763 N.W.2d 862 (Iowa 2009), is a unanimous decision of the Iowa Supreme Court dated April 3, 2009, that held the state’s limitation of marriage to opposite-sex couples violated the equal protection clause of the Iowa Constitution. The Supreme Court of Iowa reasoned that Our responsibility, however, is to protect constitutional rights of individuals from legislative enactments that have denied those rights, even when the rights have not yet been broadly accepted, were at one time unimagined, or challenge a deeply ingrained practice or law viewed to be impervious to the passage of time. Marriage is already threatened with high divorce rates (between 40% and 50%) and with 40.6% of babies being born to unmarried mothers in 2008. Allowing same-sex couples to marry would further weaken the institution.
The most conservative, family-affirming an individual could cast would be to legalize same-sex marriage, as it is a strong endorsement of community, personal responsibility and commitment. Gays and lesbians want to get married. Imagine, respect for an institution increasingly ignored by others. Gays and lesbians seek the civic and social recognition that fully creates a family in our culture. Acknowledge and respect the legal obligations and public commitment being made. Massachusetts, which became the first state to legalize gay marriage on May 17, 2004, had the lowest divorce rate in the country in 2008. Its divorce rate declined 21% between 2003 and 2008. Gay marriage could potentially lead down a “slippery slope” ending with giving people in polygamous, incestuous, bestial, and other nontraditional relationships the right to marry. Glen Lavy, JD, senior counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund, argued in a May 21, 2008 Los Angeles Times Op-Ed, “The movement for polygamy and polyamory is poised to use the successes of same-sex couples as a springboard for further de-institutionalizing marriage.”
In 2008 the California Supreme Court distinguished polygamy from the right to same-sex marriage by explaining that polygamy is “inimical to the mutually supportive and healthy family relationships promoted by the constitutional right to marry.” Polygamist leaders like Warren Jeffs, who last year was convicted of multiple sexual assaults and incest-related felony counts, illustrate how polygamy is inherently conducive to power imbalances, sexual subjugation, and other abuses that do not inherently exist in the case of same-sex marriage. People in a same-sex relationship support, trust and care for one another, which is the complete opposite of polyamorous relationships. Gay marriage is incompatible with the beliefs, sacred texts, and traditions of many religious groups. The Catholic Church, Presbyterian Church, Islam, United Methodist Church, Southern Baptist Convention, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, National Association of Evangelicals, and American Baptist Churches USA all oppose same-sex marriage.
Expanding marriage to include same-sex couples may lead to churches being forced to marry couples and children being taught in school that same-sex marriage is the same as opposite-sex marriage. Civil marriage for gay couples does not affect religious marriages, religious institutions or clergy in any way. No religion would be forced to marry same-sex couples, or recognize same-sex marriages within the context of their religious beliefs. It would be unconstitutional for the state to force churches into marrying homosexual couples, due to the constitutional principle of the separation of church and state. Nonetheless, there are churches, such as the Anglican Church of Canada, the Episcopal Church of the USA, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America that allow such unions. Gay marriage will lead to more children being raised in same-sex households which are not an optimum environment for raising children because children need both a mother and father.
Girls who are raised apart from their fathers are reportedly at higher risk for early sexual activity and teenage pregnancy. Children without a mother are deprived of the emotional security and unique advice that mothers provide. An Apr. 2001 study published in American Sociological Review suggested that children with lesbian or gay parents are more likely to engage in homosexual behavior. In the 1997 book Growing up in a Lesbian Family: Effects on Child Development, Fiona Tasker, PhD, and Susan Golombok, PhD, observed that 25% of sampled young adults raised by lesbian mothers had engaged in a homoerotic relationship, compared to 0% of sampled young adults raised by heterosexual mothers. Gay marriage will make it easier for same-sex couples to adopt children. In the US, 100,000 children are waiting to be adopted. A longitudinal study published in Pediatrics on June 7, 2010 found that children of lesbian mothers were rated higher than children of heterosexual parents in social and academic competence and had fewer social problems. A July 2010 study found that children of gay fathers were “as well-adjusted as those adopted by heterosexual parents.
Marriage provides both physical and psychological health benefits and recent research suggests that refusing to allow same-sex couples to marry has resulted in harmful psychological effects. The American Psychological Association, American Psychiatric Association, and others wrote in a Sep. 2007 amicus brief, “…allowing same-sex couples to marry would give them access to the social support that already facilitates and strengthens heterosexual marriages, with all of the psychological and physical health benefits associated with that support. Gay marriage will accelerate the “assimilation” of gays into mainstream heterosexual culture. The gay community has created its own vibrant culture. By reducing the gap of opportunities and experiences between gay and heterosexual people, this unique culture may cease to exist. As M.V. Lee Badgett summarizes, “marriage means adopting heterosexual forms of family and giving up distinctively gay family forms and perhaps even gay and lesbian culture.”
The Executive Board of the American Anthropological Association found that more than a century of research has shown “no support whatsoever for the view that either civilization or viable social orders depend upon marriage as an exclusively heterosexual institution. Rather, anthropological research supports the conclusion that a vast array of family types, including families built upon same-sex partnerships, can contribute to stable and humane societies.” The institution of marriage is sexist and oppressive; it should not be expanded but weakened. Paula Ettelbrick, JD, Professor of Law and Women’s Studies, wrote in 1989, “Marriage runs contrary to two of the primary goals of the lesbian and gay movement: the affirmation of gay identity and culture and the validation of many forms of relationships.” The leaders of the Gay Liberation Front in New York said in July 1969, “We expose the institution of marriage as one of the most insidious and basic sustainers of the system. The family is the microcosm of oppression. Allowing same-sex couples to marry will give them access to basic rights such as hospital visitation during an illness, taxation and inheritance rights, access to family health coverage, and protection in the event of the relationship ending.
An Oct. 2, 2009 analysis by the New York Times estimates that a same-sex couple denied marriage benefits will incur an additional $41,196 to $467,562 in expenses over their lifetime compared to a married heterosexual couple. Marriage is not a right. Society can choose to endorse certain types of sexual arrangements and give support in the form of benefits to these arrangements. Marriage was created to allow society to support heterosexual couples in procreation and society can choose not to give the same benefits to same-sex couples. Marriage in the US is a secular and dynamic institution that has gone under several major transformations. Interracial marriage was illegal in many US states until a 1967 Supreme Court decision. Coverture, where a woman’s legal rights and economic identity were subsumed by her husband upon marriage, was commonplace in 19th century America. No-fault divorce has changed the institution of marriage since its introduction in California on Jan. 1, 1970. Nancy Cott, PhD, testified in Perry v. Schwarzenegger that “[c]ivil law has always been supreme in defining and regulating marriage” and that religious leaders are accustomed to performing marriages only because the state has given them that authority. There is no such thing as traditional marriage.
Given the prevalence of modern and ancient examples of family arrangements based on polygamy, communal child-rearing, the use of concubines and mistresses and the commonality of prostitution, heterosexual monogamy can be considered “unnatural” in evolutionary terms. Same-sex marriage is not a civil right, and conflating the issue with interracial marriage is misleading. Matthew D. Staver, JD, Dean of the Liberty University School of Law, explained: “The unifying characteristics of the protected classes within the Civil Rights Act of 1964 include (1) a history of longstanding, widespread discrimination, (2) economic disadvantage, and (3) immutable characteristics… ‘Sexual orientation’ does not meet any of the three objective criteria shared by the historically protected civil rights categories.” 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.
The NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), on May 19, 2012, named same-sex marriage as “one of the key civil rights struggles of our time. Marriage should not be extended to same-sex couples because homosexual relationships have nothing to do with procreation. Allowing gay marriage would only further shift the purpose of marriage from producing and raising children to adult gratification. If marriage is about reproduction, then infertile couples would not be allowed to marry. Ability or desire to create offspring has never been a qualification for marriage.
George Washington, often referred to as “the Father of Our Country,” did not have children with his wife Martha Custis. Consequently, there are new methods of reproduction in the modern era, such as in vitro fertilization. Consequently, “procreation” doesn’t necessarily mean having genetic offspring, today it can mean raising children through adoption for the betterment of society as a whole. Separate but equal is what kept Rosa Parks in the back of the bus. Separate but equal is what kept blacks and whites from different water fountains. Separate but equal is the words that justified children of colour going to a school apart from their white pairs. Separate but equal is the naïve words of racists and segregationists. Civil Unions are certainly not separate but equal, as they do not give thousands and thousands of rights at the federal and state levels, guaranteed to heterosexual couples, to gay couples.
The United States of America is and has always been a beacon of light guiding the world. We are a country that stands to protect and fight for each and every person’s inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Nonetheless, our country is denying a certain group of individuals the right to marry. Marriage has always been understood as a social and legal union between two people who love each other. It has only been during recent times that people have questioned whether or not marriage is solely between a man and a woman. Regardless, marriage is not just a partnership between two people of opposite genders, but it is a personal union involving two individuals, man and woman, woman and woman, or man and man, who are committed to each other in a loving and nurturing relationship. The benefits of marriage equality are limitless. By allowing same sex couples to marry, we would allow gay couples to have the freedom and dignity to affirm their love under the eyes of the law.
We would be strengthening our people, our economy, and our national security. Gay and lesbian Americans are our friends, our colleagues, our soldiers, and our loved ones who deserve every right that comes along with citizenship, including marriage. Marriage is a fundamental building block of society, which comes with great joy as well as great responsibility. It solidifies families that are bound by love and commitment. By denying certain members of our society this type of happiness, based solely on who they are and who they love, we are telling some of our fellow countrymen that they are second class citizens who do not have the right to marry whom they love. we deny these individuals the rights of the fourteenth amendment, which guarantees that no state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of US citizen; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property. We have repeatedly made numerous human rights mistakes throughout history, and marriage equality is certainly our era’s chance to prove that we, as a 21st century society, know what is right and wrong.
We must affirm that we embrace each and every American’s right to dignity and equality. By allowing gay couples to marry, we would give them innumerable rights that were previously reserved to heterosexual couples, ranging from tax breaks to something as simple as visitation rights in the hospital for their loved one. Granting gay couples the right to marry is not, as some believe, a detriment to society, as it would promote justice, openness, wholeness, unity, and pride of being an American. By passing laws that allow gay couples to wed, we would only make eight percent of our population a little bit happier. We, as a whole, must make a stand regarding gay marriage. We must proclaim that we are the United Stated of America, we stand by our treasured ideals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.