1,138 Reasons to Support Same-Sex Marriage

IntroductionLegalizing same-sex marriage in the United States will ruin the sanctity of marriage. At least that’s the consensus among many Americans who consider themselves to be Christian—according to several polls. They believe that marriage is a sacred institution between a man and a woman and necessary for procreation. They believe that legalizing same-sex marriage will force religious officials to perform ceremonies that violate their beliefs. Ultimately, many Christian religions believe that homosexuality is a sin. That belief is based on a passage in the Bible, a book written by men during the Bronze Age in a time before science, when the people believed that the Earth was flat, sea monsters were a serious threat and a person’s spit could cure wounds. Though in reality, same-sex marriage doesn’t ruin the sanctity of marriage. In fact, Massachusetts, where same-sex marriage has been legal since November 18, 2003, has the lowest divorce rate in the country, procreation is still occurring among humans, no religious officials are forced to perform ceremonies that violate their beliefs, and the world hasn’t ended. There are at least 1,138 federal rights denied to same-sex couples—even same-sex-married couples—due in large part to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a bill passed by a Republican-controlled Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996. As long as so many rights are attached to marriage, same-sex couples need to be able to partake in the so-called sacred institution.

Marriage is a Sacred Institution

Traditional marriage is a sacred institution between one man and one woman. Redefining marriage to mean anything else would ruin its sanctity. Many Christian faiths believe this to be true. According to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, “the Catholic Church believes that marriage is a faithful, exclusive and lifelong union between one man and one woman” (1). The Church of Jesus Christ and Latter-day Saints, more commonly referred to as the Mormon Church, “solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God” (1). American Baptist Churches USA believe that “God’s design for sexual intimacy places it within the context of marriage between one man and one woman” and “the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with the Biblical teaching” (1). Many other religious faiths share these same beliefs.

Gays and lesbians engage in conduct that violates the religious beliefs of many Americans. This belief is based on several passages in the Bible, most notably from Leviticus 20:13, “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them.” To many, as Ben Schuman writes in the Georgetown Law Journal, “homosexuality and homosexual conduct are not as good as heterosexuality and heterosexual conduct” (7). Legalizing same-sex marriage would force religious officials to perform ceremonies that violate their beliefs.

Traditional marriage has been understood to be a relationship designed for procreation. Robert Sokolowski of the Jesuit publication America writes, “The end of marriage is procreation” (14). In 1968, Pope Paul VI issued a landmark encyclical letter Humanae Vitae, which reemphasized the churches constant teaching that it is always wrong to use contraception to prevent new human beings from coming into existence:

The transmission of human life is a most serious role in which married people collaborate freely and responsibly with God the Creator. It has always been a source of great joy to them, even though it sometimes entails many difficulties and hardships (1).

According to Catholicism and many other Christian faiths, since same-sex couples are unable to procreate, and procreation is the end of marriage, there is no reason for gay and lesbian couples to partake in holy matrimony.

Fear is a big part of the anti-same-sex marriage crowd. Robert Sokolowski at America Magazine writes, “Defenders of same-sex marriage often ask their opponents what they fear” (12). In other words, how will the recognition of same-sex marriage threaten traditional marriage (12)? What damage could possibly occur as a result of recognizing same-sex unions (12)? Sokolowski argues that if we allow same-sex marriage, what’s to stop a person from asking to marry their aunt, uncle, mother, father or any other blood-related family member (12)? Stanley Kurtz of The Weekly Standard argues, “among the likeliest effects of gay marriage is to take us down a slippery slope to legalized polygamy” (1). “Marriage will be transformed into a variety of relationship contracts, linking two, three, or more individuals in every conceivable combination of male and female” (1). In the most extreme cases, some believe that the legalization of same-sex marriage could lead to people wanting to marry farm animals or their pet dog or cat.

The legalization of same-sex marriage, according to its opponents, will harm the children the most. Soon after the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court announced its Goodridge opinion, ruling that it was unconstitutional not to allow same-sex marriage, public schools across the state began celebrating same-sex marriage. According to Brian Camenker of MassResistance.org, there was a school assembly at his son’s high school to celebrate same-sex marriage (1). Within months it was brought into the middle schools, and by the following year it was in elementary school curricula:

Kindergarteners were given picture books telling them that same-sex couples are just another kind of family, like their own parents. Second graders … were read a book, King and King, about two men who have a romance and marry each other, with a picture of them kissing (1).

According to opponents of same-sex marriage, if homosexual unions become legal in the United States, children all over the country will not only be exposed to the “homosexual lifestyle,” they will learn about it, too.

1,138 Federal Rights

On November 18, 2003, after the Goodridge ruling was announced, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts gave the Massachusetts Legislature 180 days in which to “take such action as it may deem appropriate” (1). Six months later, on May 17, 2004, more than 1,000 gay and lesbian couples streamed into city and town halls all across the state seeking marriage licenses, after Governor Mitt Romney ordered town clerks to begin issuing marriage licenses. Opponents of same-sex marriage believe that gays and lesbians marrying will ruin the sanctity of marriage. Yet, according to the Center for Disease Control’s Provisional Data for 2008, the divorce rate in Massachusetts has actually dropped, from 2.3 per thousand residents in 2007 to about 2.0 per thousand in 2008 (1). This divorce rate is the lowest in the country. The last time the national divorce rate was this low was in 1940.

In the United States, gays and lesbians are denied at least 1,138 federal rights that many heterosexual couples take for granted. Kevin Moss, in his article Legitimizing Same-Sex Marriage writes, “Gays and lesbians are deprived of the same constitutional protection afforded heterosexuals because they refuse to accept the sexual norms recognized by the larger society” (101). Even in the five states and Washington, D.C. where same-sex marriage is presently legal, these 1,138 federal rights are denied to same-sex married couples because they only apply to male-female couples. As mentioned earlier, this is due to DOMA, a bill passed by a Republican-controlled Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996. Title 18 of the United States Code, Section 879 makes it illegal to threaten certain individuals guarded by the Secret Service. This law “does not outlaw threats,” writes John Cloud of Time, “against the lesbian partner [of one of Dick Cheney’s daughters] Mary Cheney” (1). However, the husband of Mr. Cheney’s older daughter, Elizabeth Cheney, would be protected of threats under Title 18 (1).

Many people believe that procreation is the sole purpose of marriage. According to opponents of same-sex marriage, two men or two women are incapable of making a baby and therefore have no reason to get married. George Skelton at the Los Angeles Times argues, “The notion that baby-making is the principal purpose of marriage in the 21st century America is plain absurd” (1). Heterosexual couples get married for a lot of reasons: “companionship, physical attraction, financial protection, [and] to make a commitment” (1). Some couples choose not to have kids while others are simply unable to. George Washington, the father of our country, was sterile. According to Harvard Professor Nancy Cott, “This was an advantage in many people’s minds because he couldn’t establish a hereditary monarchy when he became president” (1).

Many Christians who oppose same-sex marriage believe, based on passages of the Bible, that homosexuality is a sin. In the King James Version, Leviticus 18:22, “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.” However, the Bible was written during the Bronze Age, in a time when people, according to the documentary Religulous, believed “the Earth was flat, constellations were celestial beings, spitting on a wound cured it, and sea monsters were considered a legitimate hazard” (Charles). In addition, according to Leviticus 11:10, shellfish is an abomination; Leviticus 25:44, it’s okay to have slaves so long as they come from a bordering country; Leviticus 19:19, it’s a violation to plant two different crops in the same field; Leviticus 19:27, it’s forbidden for men to trim their hair.

Many argue that same-sex marriage should not be legalized because of its lower-than-majority approval ratings. In 1968, a Gallup poll found that only 20% of Americans supported interracial marriage, up from 4% a decade earlier (Carroll 1). Interracial marriage had been legal since 1967, however, after the Supreme Court, in the case of Loving vs. Virginia, unanimously ruled that laws banning interracial marriages were unconstitutional. The laws prohibiting interracial marriage was otherwise known as miscegenation laws as Peggy Pascoe, Associate Professor at the University of Oregon writes:

Today, when one out of every fifteen American marriages is interracial, many people are surprised to learn that laws prohibiting interracial marriage were so deeply embedded in U.S. history that they would have to be considered America’s longest-lasting form of legal race discrimination—they lasted far longer than either slavery or school segregation [1664-1967] (1).

Many of the arguments against same-sex marriage mirror the arguments against interracial marriage. “The arguments white supremacists used to justify for miscegenation laws—that interracial marriages were contrary to God’s will or somehow unnatural—are echoed today by the most conservative opponents of same-sex marriage” (Pascoe 1).

My Opinion

We are in the middle of the civil rights movement of our generation. In the 50s and 60s, African-Americans fought for their civil rights, and today, the LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender) community is fighting for theirs. Despite what’s written in the Founding Documents, citizens of the United States—100% tax-paying citizens—are still having to march on Washington and fight for their so-called inalienable, God-given rights. The census form does not ask a person what their sexual orientation is, so we have no idea how many people’s rights are being denied as a result of this blatant bigotry and discrimination. Regardless the number, it’s too many. Rush Limbaugh, a huge defender of “traditional marriage,” is currently married to his fourth wife. Newt Gingrich, another opponent of same-sex marriage, has been married three times. The list of hypocrites is endless. These people who rally against the legalization of same-sex marriage should be directing their time, money and energy towards stopping people from getting a divorce. Stopping people from marrying doesn’t preserve the institution of marriage, stopping people from divorcing does. Marriage, which was primarily put in place to oppress women, is unnecessary and outdated in today’s society. The rights should be taken out of marriage and put into civil unions for all.  But until that happens, we need marriage equality.

Works Cited
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Office of Media Relations. Promote, Preserve, Protect Marraige. USCCB.org. 09 Sept. 2003. Web. 27 Oct. 2010.
Hickley, Gordon B. “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.” Reading. General Relief Society Meeting. Salt Lake City. 23 Sept. 1995. LDS.org. Web. 27 Oct. 2010.
American Baptist Churches USA. Responses/Actions Pertaining to Homosexuality. ABC-USA.org. Nov. 2004. Web. 27 Oct. 2010.
Leviticus. Holy Bible. Nashville: Holman Bible, 1992. Print.
Schuman, Ben. “God & Gays: Analyzing the Same-Sex Marriage Debate from a Religious Perspective.” Georgetown Law Journal 96.6 (2008): 1-45. ProQuest Research Library. Web. 23 Oct. 2010.
Kurtz, Stanley. “Beyond Gay Marriage.” The Weekly Standard 25 July 2003. ProQuest Research Library. Web. 27 Oct. 2010.
Sokolowski, Robert. “The Threat of Same-Sex Marriage.” America 7 June 2004: 12-16. ProQuest Research Library. Web. 27 Oct. 2010.
Pope Paul VI. “Humanae Vitae.” Letter. 25 July 1968. Vatican.va. Web. 27 Oct. 2010.
Camenker, Brian. What Same-Sex “Marriage” Has Done to Massachusetts. Rep. MassResistance.org, 20 Oct. 2008. Web. 27 Oct. 2010.
Tejada-Vera B, Sutton PD. Births, Marriages, Divorces, and Deaths: Provisional Data Ror 2008. National Vital Statistics Reports; vol 57, no 19. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2009.
Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, 440 Mass. 309, 798 N.E.2d 941. 1. Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts. 18 Nov. 2003. Umass.edu. 18 Nov. 2003. Web. 28 Nov. 2010.
Moss, Kevin. “Legitimizing Same-Sex Marriages.” Peace Review 14.1 (2002): 101-07. Academic Search Premier. Web. 28 Oct. 2010.
Cloud, John. “1,138 Reasons Marriage Is Cool.” Time.com. 01 Mar. 2004. Web. 28 Oct. 2010.
Skelton, George. “Prop. 8 Backers’ Procreation Argument Doesn’t Ring True.” Los Angeles Times. 14 Jan. 2010. Web. 28 Oct. 2010.
Religulous. Dir. Larry Charles. Perf. Bill Maher. Lionsgate, 2008. DVD.
Carroll, Joseph. “Most Americans Approve of Interracial Marriages.” Gallup.com. 16 Apr. 2007. Web. 29 Oct. 2010.
Pascoe, Peggy. “Why the Ugly Rhetoric Against Gay Marriage Is Familiar to This Historian of Miscegenation.” History News Network. 19 Apr. 2004. Web. 31 Oct. 2010.

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