Same sex marriage is the legal joining of two people of the same gender who are lovingly committed and dedicated to one another, just like any other marriage between a man and a woman. Many people are against same sex marriage because they believe marriage should only be between a man and a woman. However, others believe that marriage between anyone, of any gender, should be allowed because it is a civil right. In the majority of the United States, there is a limit on the benefits that homosexual couples can receive; they are much more limited than the benefits many heterosexual married couples enjoy. Marriage is a civil right and not allowing people of the same gender to marry is discrimination against individuals due to their sexual preference. This discrimination is in direct opposition to the constitution’s commitment to liberty and equality.
Many same sex couples are deprived of health benefits, spousal life insurance, retirement plans, and the ability to adopt, foster, and/or raise children. Other areas affected are taxation brackets and hospital visitation rights. Bi-national families can also be penalized by recognition or non-recognition of same sex marriage. Additional benefits that can be affected are military spouse supports, social security benefits, and rights to property and intellectual property. Even homosexuals who are able to exercise these rights that other couples around the nation enjoy, often suffer ridicule and questioning of their rights. For example, if a homosexual couple gains the right to be parents, they still may face an uphill battle to be treated the same at school, in their neighborhood, by other parents, etc. In addition, work discrimination against homosexuals, especially couples who choose to parent, is very common in the United States.
There are many positive aspects to allowing same sex marriage. Marriage is shown to have a correlation to physical and psychological health benefits and depriving gay and lesbian individuals of these benefits could increase the rate of physical and psychological disorders. Marriage between same sex couples would also make it easier for them to adopt children. Doing this would provide a home to more children who currently are in need of a stable home and family or are in foster care. Heterosexual marriages and “family values” will not be changed, harmed, and\or altered with the legalization of same sex marriage, therefore, it is a matter of debate about what is really holding society against same sex marriage. Many people say that traditionally, the institution of marriage is defined as only between a man and a woman and that allowing gay couples to wed could possibly weaken the institution of marriage further. Same sex marriage is also not compatible with the traditions and beliefs of some specific religions.
Allowing same sex marriage could offend people and their religious affiliations. Many people also argue that extending the right to marry to same sex couples is bad because they can not biologically produce children together and if they did adopt or use an alternative method to have children it would provide an unstable household in which the children are raised without the typical and “proper” motherly and fatherly figures. Sixteen countries since 2000 have entirely legalized same sex marriage including AR, BE, BR, CA, DK, FR, IS, NS, NZ, NO, PT, ES, SA, SE, The UK, and UY. Parts of Mexico have also legalized same sex marriage. In the United States, only nineteen states have legalized same sex marriage including CA, CT, DE, HI, IL (Illinois’ same sex marriage law only recently took effect on June 1st, 2014), IA, MA, MD, ME, MN, NH, NM, NJ, NY, OR, PA, RI, VT, and WA (LGBTQ Nation). Same sex marriage has also been legalized in the District of Columbia.
Just under half of the U.S. population lives in a state that provides some sort of protection for same sex couples where as just under 44% of the U.S. population lives in a state where same sex couples have the freedom to marriage equality (Freedom to Marry). Most states have adopted prohibitions of same sex marriage by adopting language that defines marriage as: “In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the word ‘marriage’ means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word ‘spouse’ refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife” (DOMA). Twenty-nine states have put this language into their constitution (Defining Marriage). At the time DOMA was passed in 1996, the year it was signed by President Clinton, only ¼ of Americans supported same sex marriage.
However, support has grown steadily in America since 1996. The DOMA ruling does not require any state to legalize or recognize a same sex marriage from another state but, the US government must recognize legal same sex marriages. Among individuals born in 1981 through 1996, 74% support same sex marriage. This is in deep contrast with seniors, of whom only 33% support same sex marriage. Republicans tend to have far lower acceptance of same sex marriage than democrats and independents do (Balanced Politics). In the last 4 years, opinion polls in America reflect a majority of citizens are behind same sex marriage. The percentage of Americans in support had been growing for 10+ years until its first majority in the year 2010. Besides youth, other factors relating to support for same sex marriage are: better educated, residency on the west or northeast coasts, and females. Low levels of support are reported in the Plains, the Deep South, and Appalachian states.
Of Republican voters over age 50, only about ¼ state that they are in support of same sex marriage. Some polls of people who live in states that have not legalized same sex marriage reflect that the citizens of those states actually form a majority in support of it. Other groups who are noted for being in majority support are Catholics, Jews, and people with no religious affiliation. In 2008, Voters in California passed proposition 8 by a margin of only 52% to 48%. Two federal courts declared it unconstitutional and in 2013, the Supreme Court ruled that the appellants had no standing in the suit. Proposition 8 was created by opponents of same sex marriage and put on the ballot along with the election of 2008. It sparked protests all over the United States.
It was upheld in California courts but struck down by federal courts. Ultimately, the US Supreme Court ruled that the federal courts had aired. Same sex marriage was to resume almost immediately. In May 2012, President Barack Obama became the first US president to support same sex marriage. He appeared in several interviews on the subject; a turning point was when he stated “At a certain point, I’ve just concluded that for me personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married” (CNN). Later the same year, he called a news conference at which he stated “My baseline is a strong civil union that provides them [same sex spouses] the protections and the legal rights that married couples have and I think that’s the right thing to do” (WTOP).
“19 States with Legal Gay Marriage and 31 States with Same-Sex Marriage Bans
– Gay Marriage – ProCon.org.” ProConorg Headlines. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 May 2014. . “BalancedPolitics.org – Same Sex Marriages (Pros & Cons, Arguments For and Against, Advantages & Disadvantages).” BalancedPolitics.org – Same Sex Marriages (Pros & Cons, Arguments For and Against, Advantages & Disadvantages). N.p., n.d. Web. 18 May 2014. . “Defense of Marriage Act: One Hundred Fourth Congress of the United States of America AT THE SECOND SESSION.” gpo.gov. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 May 1930. . “Defining Marriage: State Defense of Marriage Laws and Same-Sex Marriage.” Defining Marriage: State Defense of Marriage Laws and Same-Sex Marriage. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 May 2014. . “Freedom to Marry.” Freedom to Marry. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 May 2014. . Gast, Phil, Jessica Yellin, Bill Mears, Dan Gilgoff, and Jim Acosta. “Obama announces he supports same-sex marriage.” CNN. Cable News Network, 1 Jan. 1970. Web. 30 May 2014. . “Marriage Equality.” LGBTQ Nation RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 May 2014. .
Moats, David. Civil wars: a battle for gay marriage. Orlando: Harcourt, 2004. Print. “Obama quotes on same-sex marriage.” – WTOP.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 May 2014. .