In early times, same-sex marriage was not considered taboo and in many cultures, it was encouraged. Random History (2011) explains that in the early civilizations of Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt, the union between couples of the same-sex was recognized by the kingdom. During Greek’s early years, attraction between a man and another man was normal and was considered an expression of love. “The main considerations in same-sex relationships in early history were often love, beauty, and excellence of character rather than gender” (Random History, 2011, p.1). Same-sex marriages were often believed to be more pure than a heterosexual marriage. Marriage was believed to be the union of two people based on love. A marriage consisting of two males or two females, if women had the right to get married, was not frowned upon. It was not until the rise of Christianity that a negative attitude towards same-sex marriage became introduced. The belief that marriage was based on procreation and any relationship that was non-procreative began to increase in many societies. Random History’s 2011 research describes how Eastern religions varied in their views about homosexual marriages.
Japanese Buddhism records the most tolerant attitude toward homosexuality, praising it for its mystery. Today, there are no religious or political limitations on homosexual behavior in Japan. Sexuality is considered a private matter and lacks any restrictions. “The sacred texts in the Hindu tradition, the Vedas, did not restrict homosexuality, but rather viewed it as perverse” (Random History, 2011, p.1). Other things, such as mixed race relationships were considered more offensive than homosexuality. Random History (2011) also explains how in the thirteenth century, the first laws banning sodomy were introduced and were strictly enforced. Through the next centuries, homosexual behavior became deviant and was punished. Due to the belief that homosexual behavior was wrong, the belief that heterosexual relationships were normal became popular among the majority of countries. By the nineteenth century, heterosexuality became the most believed standard for relationships.
Although the debate for same-sex marriage became noticeably public in the late twentieth century, it was not until 1993 during a Hawaiian case, that the issue became national news. The ruling of the case stated that the restriction of marriage and its benefits to opposite-sex couples were unconstitutional. “The Defense of Marriage Act, which was introduced in 1996, was almost a direct response to the Hawaiian case, declared that no state would be required to recognize a same-sex marriage from another state, and also defined marriage as a union between one man and one woman” (Axel-Lute, 2002, p.1). By that same year, a majority of states passed laws prohibiting same-sex marriage. Since then, states have defined their own definition of marriage. Despite the fact that the debate over same-sex marriage is relatively new in the United States, five states have made same-sex marriage legal, as well as Washington D.C.
According to the Florida’s Domestic Partnership (2010), currently, there are only two states that recognize same-sex marriages, New York and California. In California, the marriage is only recognized if it was before proposition 8. Ballot Pedias 2008 research explains how proposition 8 is a statewide ballot proposition in California. The people of California voted for the illegalization of same-sex marriage. Though some people are against same-sex marriages for religious reasons, not allowing same-sex marriages is discrimination. Same-sex marriages should be legalized because the discrimination same-sex couples receive is emotionally traumatic, and unfair. The most influential reason against same-sex marriage is based on religion. Many people believe that procreation is the ideal reason for marriage. Their belief is that same-sex couples do not have the capability to produce children which is the basis for marriage. However, when two of the most influential religious icons discussed marriage, child bearing was not a reason for two people to get married.
“It is highly significant that Jesus and Paul, while both referring to the creation story, never once mention procreation or physical sexual difference in their teaching about marriage” (Sullivan, 1997, p.79). Both men stressed how the quality of a relationship was the most important aspect for marriage. If marriage is reserved for having a child, then same-sex marriages are not an issue. “There are countless ways to ‘have’ a child. Not all of them amount to doing the same thing” (Meilander, 1996). Many same-sex couples employ artificial insemination to conceive a child. Liz Tracy’s 2011 article interviews Maria and Vivian, a lesbian couple who were married in New York last year. The two have a 21 year old daughter by artificial insemination. During a marriage ceremony, the church’s only engagement is to give its blessing. “The church does not, in fact, marry anyone.
People marry each other. The state, not the church, defines the nature of legal marriage” (Sullivan, 1997, p.68). Sullivan (1997) also states how the church has blessed fields when crops have been planted, MX missiles, new houses, and warships whose sole purpose is to kill and destroy. There is no reason the church should not bless a relationship in which two people vow to be faithful and love each other for all eternity. Supporters of same-sex marriage believe the bill to allow same-sex marriage should be crafted in a specific way that will help win votes from people of faith. “The measure would not force religious organizations to grant marriages to same-sex couples, a move that would make the government benefits of marriage equal for gay and straight couples but still allow the sacrament of marriage to be defined by churches” (Groeninger, 2012, p.2).
If the bill was written and carried out in a certain way, the church would not have any association with same-sex couples getting married because the process would be carried out in a courtroom. The American gay rights movement, which became heated in the 1970’s, defined marriage as oppressive, sexist, and a heterosexual institution, according to the National Organization of Women’s 2012 studies. By the government prohibiting same-sex couples from getting married, they are denying them rights that every other American has. “Marriage is a unique legal status conferred by and recognized by governments all over the world. It brings with it a host of reciprocal obligations, rights and protections” (National Organization of Women, 2012, p, 1). There are numerous rights and responsibilities that are associated with marriage. Same-sex couples are being discriminated against because they are not allowed any of these rights.
The National Organization of Women’s 2012 research details many of the 1,138 federal rights, protections and responsibilities that come along with marriage, which same-sex couples are denied. Social Security benefits upon death, disability or retirement of spouse, as well as benefits for minor children, workers’ compensation protections for the family of a worker injured on the job, exemptions from estate taxes when a spouse dies, exemptions from federal income taxes on spouse’s health insurance are all denied to same-sex couples. The discrimination and denial of marriage and its benefits of same-sex couples can be emotionally traumatic at times. “Because literally hundreds of important legal, economic, practical, and social benefits and protections flow directly from marriage, the exclusion from this central social institution wreaks real harm on real life same-sex couples everyday” (Sullivan, 1997, p. 129). Same-sex couples are denied the right to make decisions regarding their partner’s health or medical treatment. Sullivan (1997) also explains how same-sex couples are not allowed to adopt their partner’s children or how lesbian mothers are often denied custody of their children.
One of the most common arguments against same-sex marriage is society’s image of the ideal family. “The public acceptance of homosexuality subverts the stability and self-understanding of the heterosexual family” (Sullivan, 1997, p.146). Conservatives believe that the ideal family includes one father and one mother. Both of the parents influence their children in a certain way. Many believe that a same-sex couple cannot raise a child properly because the child is not raised with both fatherly and motherly qualities. However, Sullivan (2012) also discusses how even though some parents may be disappointed that their child will not produce a grandchild, they would still prefer to see their child find someone to love and live with and share his or her life with. If a child is surrounded by two parents who love them, they will develop and grow as any other child would.
Many states have legalized civil unions since 2000. Although civil unions provide legal protection to same-sex couples, they are only recognized at the state level. Many believe legalizing same-sex marriage is not an urgent issue because civil unions are becoming legal in more states. “Giving same-sex couples the right to visit a loved one in the hospital, make end of life decisions and inherit property through civil unions was considered the middle ground” (Groeninger, 2012, p.1). There is a vast amount of differences in a marriage and civil union. Debatepedia’s 2011 research explains how civil unions are separate and unequal because people in a heterosexual relationship have access to civil unions, yet same-sex couples do not have access to marriage. Civil unions are unequal because they are not recognized state to state. A same-sex couple in a civil union is denied the all of the rights that come with marriage. Also, civil unions do not receive any federal benefit.
“Because the federal government does not respect civil unions, a couple with a civil union will be in a kind of limbo with regard to governmental functions performed by both state and federal governments, such as taxation, pension protections, provision of insurance for families, and means-tested programs like Medicaid” (National Organization of Women, 2012, p.1). The debate over same-sex marriage will forever rage until it becomes legalized. Same-sex relationships have been a part of history since the ancient times. Not allowing same-sex marriage is discrimination. Couples are denied financial benefits heterosexual couples receive. Same-sex marriage should be legalized so couples will have the right to make decisions regarding their partner’s health and medical treatment as well as allowing them to adopt one another’s children. Designing the bill a certain way will enable to church to stay uninvolved, since religious reasons are the most common reason for people being against same-sex marriage. Legalizing same-sex marriages will create equality for all people in a relationship and defeat the injustice among same-sex couples.