On any given day in any part of the world, couples motivated by love, security, commitment, mutual admiration or any other of a wide range of feelings and emotions decide to become one through the institution of marriage. For what society has long deemed to be the “traditional couple”- a man and a woman- there are seldom any substantial obstacles to the marriage process, at least from legal points of view.
However, for gay and lesbian couples, the quest to be united in marriage and to receive legal, financial, and societal recognition as married couples is another issue entirely due to the ongoing debate over gay and lesbian marriage rights. From any imaginable viewpoint, there has been opposition to gay/lesbian marriage.
Opposition arguments range from the adherence of some to ancient Biblical quotations which have been attributed to a link between homosexuality and spiritual and physical death to the argument that children adopted by these unconventional couples will inevitably grow up to be morally bankrupt, intellectually deficient and mal-adjusted to the assertion that such marriages are akin to the joining of a cat and mouse in matrimony; in other words, it goes against the very grain of natural law and somehow throws the balance of human existence into some type of a tailspin.
All of these arguments undoubtedly should be qualified at least to some degree by the fact that personal agendas, belief systems, the need for political people to do whatever it takes to please their constituents and ensure the perpetuation of their own political careers and the irreversible trend of religious extremism all play a part in the opposition to gay and lesbian marriage that exists in the present day. Because of these facets of the controversy, the need for a balanced and comprehensive work of research into the topic is certainly warranted, which leads to an explanation of the focus of this research itself.
Essentially, the focus of this research will be as such: what is it about gay and lesbian marriage that makes it so intolerable to so-called legal, moral and religious leaders, is there in fact any type of a fair compromise that would satisfy both the couples and those that oppose their union, and what kinds of solid facts can in fact be established in this topic which will make the understanding of this topic more understandable? Upon conclusion of the research, a better grasp of this intricate issue will be gained.
Chapter Two- Literature Review To begin the review of literature on this topic, a quote is presented: “At its core, the freedom to marry movement is about the same thing every civil rights struggle has been about, taking seriously our country’s promise to be a nation its citizens can make better—its promise to be a place where people don’t have to give up their differences or hide them in order to be treated equally (www. freedomtomarry. org)”.
Taken at face value, it would seem that the above quote is the quick and clean answer to the controversy of gay and lesbian marriage- given the American commitment to the pursuit of personal freedom and happiness, the easy temptation is to jump immediately to the conclusion that a couple, be it two men or two women, should be without question afforded the right to marry just as man and woman have for time eternal. However, before that quick idea is embraced, a look at both sides of the prevalent literature on this hottest of topics is in order. For the sake of continuity, the pros of gay and lesbian marriage will first be reviewed.
Since the modern attack on same-gender unions is firmly rooted in the court of law, which will be discussed in more detail in subsequent sections of the research, the discovery of literature which legally defends gay and lesbian marriage. On the highest level of the legal battle to gain universal recognition of gay and lesbian marriages in the United States, an important legal point has been made as the result of extensive legal study into many of the domestic relations laws of the individual states, which have typically been given control over issues such as marital laws.
In many of the individual states’ domestic relations laws, including most prominently the states of New York and California, there is no verbiage which specifically defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Therefore, the apparent conclusion to be reached by those seeking to gain legal remedy as protection for same-gender marriage is that since it is not explicitly prohibited, it must be legal and acceptable, with no court of law having the power to oppose the marriages themselves (Columbia Journal of Gender and Law, 2004). In addition, assertions such as those of Right to Marry.
org and others that the promises of the freedoms afforded by the United States Constitution and the very nature of democratic societies themselves automatically guarantee the right of individuals to marry whomever they may choose, and for that marriage to automatically be recognized for purposes of finance, estate law, insurance, domestic relations, and all of the other aspects of legal rights that married people enjoy, for without such protections, these couples are in fact in many ways deprived of their basic rights that are put forth by a free American society (Swan, 2004). Chapter Three- Methods and Information
At this point in the research, it is important to clarify a point which was briefly introduced at the beginning of the paper and which, for all of the efforts of the researcher to obtain a high level of objectivity, certainly at the very least shades the pursuit of objectivity to some extent. Few would or could argue that the topic is a hotly debated and highly controversial one. As such, depending on where one obtains information from, there is a tendency for much of the available literature to be one-sided, either in favor of the advancement of gay and lesbian marriage or strictly against it.
In fairness, just as those who oppose the action present the facts which point out the disadvantages of gay and lesbian marriage, those who advocate it likewise will of course publish information which shows that it is an advantageous step for all of society to pursue. Therefore, it needs to be clearly understood that the literature on this topic tends to be highly polarized one way or another, and as such, the challenge for the researcher lies in the ability to fairly review each side’s assertions, separate meaningful data and fact from conjecture and accusation and combine the two in order to publish research which is fair and balanced.
Having made this point, it is now possible and appropriate to present the researcher’s findings, and to conclude with discussions and recommendations. Chapter Four- Research Findings The research that was conducted in the preparation of this paper revealed in federal law some interesting underpinnings of the questioning of the validity of the rights of gay and lesbian couples to marry. At the heart of the opposition to gay and lesbian marriage is a 1950s Supreme Court ruling which outlawed sodomy (Mohr, 2005).
It is from this ruling that the assertion was made early on that the very idea of gay and lesbian couples being given the legal right to marry was invalid due to the fact that by its very existence, gay and lesbian marriage is facilitating a crime. However, this is in itself an invalid interpretation of the law from the standpoint that the original Supreme Court ruling is an attempt to legislate morality, and is based on the opinion that gay and lesbian marriage is immoral, which again, has very little traction in the realm of what is legal.
That which is seen by some as immoral, be it gay marriage, the consumption of alcohol, legalized gambling, etc, is not automatically worthy of being outlawed only on the basis of the fact that some look on it with disdain (Swan, 2004). On the other hand, there is the tricky issue of special interests to consider when talking about gay and lesbian marriage rights.
There are those that wish to promote gay and lesbian marriage not in the interest of the rights of individuals, but for the advancement of the interests of select political groups, who would use this right as a means of putting forth political agendas that would place homosexuals in the majority and heterosexuals in the minority, bringing about a form of reverse discrimination and a defeat of the whole purpose of affording equal rights to gay and lesbian couples in regard to marriage (Columbia Journal of Gender and Law, 2004).
Lastly, for an economic superpower like the US, the right of gay and lesbian couples to marry should in fact be one of economic importance. To put a finer point on this assertion, in order for the US to continue to be able to compete against other nations in world markets, it is highly important for the intellectual capital of the nation-citizens with high levels of skills, education and ability- to be maintained and even increased with time.
If the US or any other nation restricts the ability for individuals to advance economically, such as is the case when gay and lesbian couples are disallowed to take advantage of the tax benefits, insurance rights and other financial gains available to heterosexual married couples, the homosexual couples may leave the US for more tolerant homelands.
Therefore, it is fair to argue that the best and brightest of the nation could essentially be discriminated out of the nation, and eventually become citizens elsewhere, aiding the other nation with their intelligence and skills, basically the equivalent of star players leaving one team to play for the opponent’s. Chapter Five- Discussions/Recommendations- Purpose/Context of the Research On the most basic level, this research has sought to give some direction and clarity to a controversial, complicated topic which has the ability to literally affect life and death for millions of people.
In the course of the debate both for and against gay and lesbian marriage, legal, moral, and ethical strongholds have been employed by advocates and opponents as a means of making their opinion the last word on the matter. However, after the research that has been completed herein, it has become apparent to the researcher that the answer to this controversy lies somewhere in the middle.
Just as it is unfair to assume unconditionally that gay and lesbian couples are deviants who will corrupt their children, continue their deviance to the next generation, and seek to undermine the morality of the nation, it is also unfair to assume that every gay and/or lesbian marriage will be the model of the proverbial marriage made in heaven and that these unions will be the best thing that has ever happened to modern society. These arguments both touch on the issues of tolerance, objectivity and cooperation and within these details lies the recommendations that are now presented.
Speaking from the vantage point of tolerance in regard to both those who are in favor and against gay and lesbian marriage, it makes good sense that tolerance is in order for both groups. Keeping in mind those gay and lesbian individuals should never be unfairly targeted or persecuted by those who disagree with them, it also holds that gay and lesbian couples must practice a certain level of restraint in the presentation of their preferences to the general public.
It serves no one’s purpose for alternate lifestyles of any type to be effectively shoved in the face of the members of society who do not wish to know about it or to be subjected to it in any way. The same would apply for those whose religious zeal is something which others may not be interested in experiencing. No one should have to tolerate the weakening of their right to individuality and privacy at the hands of others who would force them to embrace something other than what they would like to.
Objectivity is also an integral part to finding a way for gay and lesbian marriage rights to be available in society without making that right a predatory one that destroys the rights of others in what has come to be a free American society. The ability to realize that there are varying viewpoints in diverse societies is of the utmost importance, for without the ability to do so, no meaningful dialogue or cooperation could occur to any extent.
Tolerance is also a key element in the advancement of gay and lesbian marriage rights in any free society. In many ways, the age old practice of “live and let live” seems quite appropriate in this case. Just because someone does not agree with the way of life or lifestyle of others, that opposing lifestyle does not automatically qualify to be eradicated or disqualified from equal protection under the law, given of course that the lifestyle in question does not violate the common safety, common good, or the laws of the land.
Regarding the laws, it also holds that tolerance must be embraced by those who make the laws of the land to ensure that laws are not made which marginalize or discriminate against groups that are in the minority, especially when those groups live in a way that many people do not understand or vehemently oppose. Whenever the law is used not to protect the masses but to harm the minority, something is sadly amiss and must be addressed.
In a civilized nation like the US, where freedom and justice are the cornerstones of the sociopolitical landscape, the law must not be allowed to be used as a way to single out any group for deprivation or maltreatment. There are ways in place already, and a vast potential for more ways for tolerance of alternative lifestyles to be introduced into the minds of the members of the community. Recent advances in technology, such as the development of the Internet and other advanced methods of communication have made it possible for the general public to ease many of their apprehension about homosexual individuals.
Schools have helped to educate young people not in an effort to encourage them to explore homosexuality as a practice, but to understand that those who are of that sexual preference are worthy of the respect, consideration and tolerance of the general public, and that every citizen should not be judged from this criterion, but rather from their integrity, intelligence, talents and what they can contribute to the community.
Condemning individuals simply based on sexual preference is as absurd as doing so based on the color of the skin, religion, nationality, or economic status- it simply goes against everything for which free societies stand. In conclusion, by looking beyond our desire to have all of our goals and desires realized at the expense of those who think, feel and live in a way different than ours, it will be possible for a more harmonious society that allows for as many people as possible to enjoy the fruits of freedom and avoid the bitter disappointment of the violation of individual rights and the poison of hatred and misunderstanding.
Then, and only then, can issues such as these be put aside in favor of the tackling of more important, pressing and urgent matters in a world where international terrorism prevention, the restoration of an economy in a tailspin and the protection of social justice are more important than judgments passed from one group to another in an endless circle of futility. Works Cited Mohr, R. D. (2005). The Long Arc of Justice: Lesbian and Gay Marriage, Equality, and Rights. New York: Columbia University Press.
New Study Shows Pro-Marriage Candidates Win Elections. Retrieved January 12, 2009 from the World Wide Web: http://www. freedomtomarry. org/ Report on Marriage Rights for Same-Sex Couples in New York: The Association of the Bar of the City of New York Committee on Lesbian and Gay Rights, Committee on Sex and Law and Committee on Civil Rights. (2004). Columbia Journal of Gender and Law, 13(1), 70+. Swan, W. (Ed. ). (2004). Handbook of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Administration and Policy. New York: Marcel Dekker.