In the United States, homosexuality and consequently, same-sex marriages, has resulted in a lot of controversy and the trading of accusations and counter-accusations. Conceptually, marriage is defined as a legal and religious long-term commitment between two people of the opposite sex. This stretches further to incorporate rights in financial responsibilities and benefits as assigned to heterosexual couples. However, this traditional view is increasingly facing change and opposition. Several states such as Massachusetts, Connecticut, California, Iowa, the District of Columbia and, New Jersey have already reflected this clamour for change and adopted legislation allowing gay marriages. In these states therefore, homosexual couples have the freedom to decide whether to marry or not in a legally acceptable manner. The gay couples can enjoy mutual couple benefits such as legal spouse representation, medical visitations, pension benefits and inheritance rights accorded to the bereaved. In a few other states such as Rhode Island, Hawaii, Maine, Colorado and Wisconsin have instituted domestic partnership laws whereby gay couples can enjoy limited rights though gay marriages are out rightly outlawed.
This has however not influenced the society to radically accept gay couples and end all stigma and discrimination directed unto them. Proponents of the entrenchment of gay rights into the United States Constitution argue that barring homosexual marriages is tantamount to discrimination. The essence of the United States Constitution is to protect and preserve minorities' rights and hence gay advocates feel that the federal government or anyone else should not bar marriage to any minorities. This argument is further supported by the Interracial Marriage Act whereby marriages across races were prohibited in the United States till 1967. Therefore, it is crucial to examine the pros and cons of gay marriages and evaluate them from a basis of whether it is plausible to not only legalise them but also mount awareness campaigns to de-stigmatize them.
There are various arguments that have been put forward in support of gay marriages. These range from rights in freedom in the Bill of Rights, inherent rights, societal perspectives and biological claims. First, lobbyists and advocates for gay couples feel that if they are not legalized, this will be tantamount to isolation of their rights to religious freedom. Opponents to this have expressed the fact that all major religions consider homosexual relationships as a sin. However, the First Amendment as entrenched in the American Constitution that every person’s rights and views pertaining to religion or lack thereof be it a minority group or not, must be protected. The marriage institution is a secular and societal activity in contrast to the widely acknowledged view as a solely religious perspective of people’s lives. Therefore, the government cannot base laws on a religious concept. This can be equated as entrenching the mentioning of God’s name in vain as a crime.
Secondly, benefits that accrue to a married couple such as joint property ownership and medical benefits are also accorded to gay couples if their unions are legalized. Vital societal and mutual benefits such as tax reduction, property ownership, insurance benefits and agency laws affect a couple’s decision-making. For instance, if a partner in a gay couple that has lived together for twenty years falls ill, visitation rights to the other partner are denied since they are not recognized by law as the next of kin or spouse. Therefore, critical decisions such as incapacitation are not discussed conclusively by the couple. This, as the advocates pointedly illustrate, is unfair just because these individuals do not fit a state definition.
Thirdly, gay couples and various couples not only feel that this is an accepted lifestyle but also cite biological causation. Over time, the widely held conception that homosexuality is a deviant sexual behavior is fading out. History, dating back to the Greece indicates the existence of homosexual relationships and the origin of such terms such as Lesbos for lesbians. Psychological research is underway that has already achieved in showing that same-sex relationships have a biological causation. However, caution should be taken to differentiate this from a genetic causation which has no substantial basis. This is depicted by the fact that in most gay couples, one partner exhibits characteristics of the opposite sex such as softer voices in males and strong cheekbones in females. There would be absolutely no need for an individual to choose to be gay in a world that frowns upon the same. This argument therefore renders support to the implied theory that homosexuality is involuntary.
Fourthly, denying gay couple the right to a legal marriage is discriminatory. America was founded on the concept of majority rule with the protection of minorities such as the anti-slavery acts and inter-racial marriages. Furthermore, it does not hurt anyone in particular or the society. A marriage is deemed as a personal commitment between two people and should not be dictated upon by society.
On to the fifth argument for gay marriages, it is important to note marriages are founded on the basis of love not the mutual benefits accorded by the state on couples. This is a life-time commitment whereby the partners vow to support each other through thick and thin and forsake all others till death. It is noteworthy that legal maneuvers accorded to couples in several states have not served to quest the clamor for legalization and acceptance of marriages. This implies there is more to these marriages than just legal aspects.
The sixth argument put forward is that gay marriages will entrench family values whereby couples will give up high-risk sexual behaviors. This is a two-edged approach whereby the opposite can be viewed as the erosion of family virtues. However, marriages encourage people to settle down and give up frivolous lifestyles which expose them to STDs and other risks. When married couples commit to building a life together, they depict a positive desirable behavior that should be encouraged.
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Finally, it is important to note that gay couples enjoy the same financial benefits and constraints encountered by heterosexual marriages. Therefore, a homosexual marriage ensures couples support each other especially in the face of the ongoing turbulent economic times. They can easily meet their bills and utilities and live the American dream if these unions are legalized.
On the other hand, opponents to this legislation have come up with a myriad number of reasons as to why gay marriages should not be legalized. First and chief among these is the religious aspect. Most religions in the world today consider homosexuality a great sin. Homosexuality is not only deeply opposed by the various religions in the country but it is also deemed offensive. It is seen as limiting the freedom of religion enjoyed by the majority. The fact that the United States Constitution was founded under a religious perspective and highly borrows from the Christian Bible further serves to indicate the citizens’ opposition to homosexuality. Hence, laws prohibiting homosexuality should be upheld.
Secondly, the legalization of gay marriages shall weaken the definition and perspective attached to marriage as per se. With rising cases of divorce, which are projected at 50 percent, the respect accorded to marriages has already been weakened. Gay marriages, if legalized, are expected to increase the number of non-serious marriages viewed as making fun of this serious intuition such as individuals desiring to be tax-exempt. This shall be in utter contrast to the widely felt view that marriage is a sacred institution that should be well-adhered to. Further, this is supported by the fact that only people in the opposite sex can pro-create. Most activists against homosexuality feel that it encourages adoption while ignoring pro-creation, which is viewed as a gift from God.
Secondly, the full adoption of marriage into the social setup shall ideally weaken the perspective in which traditional family values are held as the most vital in society. The chief building blocks of every society is the traditional nuclear family setup of man, woman and children. This has been the reason as to why societies have managed to remain rational throughout historical events such as the world wars, the great depression and other similar challenges. Family members have always stuck up close even when friends and lovers forsake thee. Therefore, it is noteworthy that our societies are crumbling due to the increasing change in perception of families and the weakening of their structure. Introducing another perceptive view to the already weakened family view shall definitely worsen the situation.
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Thirdly, this would trigger a slippery slope in the scope of the legality of marriages. Contrary to the proposition by gay proponents that these marriages would hurt no-one, this would trigger the onset of a chain reaction that would ultimately lead to a radical change in the whole idea of marriage. Abhorrent traits such as incest in which closely relate family members intermarry may come up. There is therefore a need to define the institution of family and marriage firmly, otherwise, the options and variations might prove to be endless. This may sound absurd, but it is vital to note that it does not take the majority to change this but a few activist judges to change these laws by interpreting them under the doctrine of stare decisis so as to impose this on everyone just as was the case in where two judges in California declared the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional.
Finally, the gay culture, under a psychological analysis and review, should not be encouraged. This is since it leads to psychological disorders, much lower life expectancy which is indicated at less than twenty years in comparison to the general population which can be attributed to the hassles experienced by this couples; and the highly likely transmittance of Sexually Transmitted Diseases as is the case in the studies conducted in Haiti by Centre of Disease Control. There is therefore a need to discourage unhealthy practices that are detrimental to humanity.
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In conclusion, it is important to note the controversy on gay marriages and homosexuality is a societal issue that must be resolved. Either the proponents and advocates of homosexuality will attain legislative and mutual recognition over time or the opponents of this change will manage to contain this whirlwind. It is therefore vital to analyze various articles that have appeared in the recent past which act as pointers as to the direction this crucial debate is taking.
New York Times reporter David Dunlap notes that while the licensing marriages does not explicitly prohibit homosexual marriages at any one time, it “used terms of gender that clearly indicated that only heterosexual couples could marry.... In 1993, the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled that a refusal to grant marriage licenses violated the state constitution. Even though the court found that the state of Hawaii’s constitution had discriminated against homosexuals, which should legalize marriage nationally, presently there have been no same-sex marriage license that have been issued anywhere in the United States .” This reflects the situation at the time. There have been wide-felt changes since then. As of 2010, various states have already passed legislation in favour of gay marriages and gone ahead to issue licences.
Conversely, an Online US News columnist feels that “one state court should not dictate marriage laws for the entire nation. If gay marriages become legal in Hawaii, other states may have to recognize them, as well, because the U.S. Constitution requires each state to grant full faith and credit to the acts of other states. But, he argues, many states do not want to recognize same-sex unions, and should not be forced to do so by a few judges in Hawaii.” Hawaii has gone forth to include various legal rights which safeguard the interests of gays. Is this a pointer that homosexuality is here to stay?
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