For as long as the institution of marriage has been around, so too has the
belief that it represents the union of one man and one woman. Now gay men
and lesbians are challenging that institution. They believe that their
relationships mean the same in their sphere as heterosexual marriages do in
our sphere. Homosexuals would like to see their marriages legalized.
In 1991 three gay couples filed a lawsuit, in Hawaii, for denying them
marriage licenses. They claim that the refusal amounts to gender
discrimination, which violates the Equal Rights Amendment. Judge Kevin
Chang ruled, in 1996, that same-sex couples have the right to legally marry.
This ruling makes Hawaii the first state to recognize that gay and lesbian
couples are entitled, by law, to the same privileges as heterosexual
married couples (CNN). Under the Full Faith and Credit clause of the
Constitution, this also forces all states to recognize these marriages as
far as federal benefits are concerned. Congress has approved a bill, the
Defense of Marriage Act, that will allow states to decide whether to
recognize homosexual marriages. The second part of the bill would define
"for federal purposes" as the union of a man and a woman. Under such a
definition gay and lesbians, even if they win the right to marry in Hawaii
or elsewhere, would not be able to file joint federal tax returns, claim
federal pension, or survivor's benefits, or be allowed to file for green
card status (Gallagher 21).
I don't feel that marriages between gays or lesbians should be given the
same status as heterosexual marriages. Since when do gay people think they
can broaden the institution of marriage to include themselves? They
shouldn't be able to. The institution of marriage is recognized by the
church, homosexuality isn't. I don't feel that gay people have given a
reason that carries enough weight for the government to legalize same-sex
Should gay people fight for the right to marry? Gay rights activists say
absolutely. Gay couples should be afforded the same benefits as
heterosexual couples. The legal status of marriage rewards the two
individuals with substantial economic and practical advantages. Married
couples can file joint tax returns. Social security provides benefits for
surviving spouses and their dependents. They can inherit money and
property from one another without a will. They are immune from testifying
against a spouse, and marriage to an American citizen gives a foreigner the
right to residency in the United States. Another advantage would be health
insurance provided by employers. These benefits usually include the
employee and their spouse. Employers generally will not include a partner
who is not married to an employee, whether of the same sex or not. Very
few insurance companies will extend benefits to domestic partners' who are
not married (OUT/LOOK 234-235).
Gay marriages are highly emotional topics in the 90s. Many people feel
that gay marriages would show heterosexual people how much two people can
love each other even if they are of the same sex. Homosexual relationships
are more than just sex with someone of the same gender. Homosexual
relationships include feelings and being able to share those feelings with
the person you love. "People have become used to the idea of defining gay
people solely in terms of sexual acts," says Gregory Herek, a research
psychologist at the University of California, Davis.
I think many heterosexuals get very nervous when they have to
think of gay people in terms of relationships, because it
challenges the way they have always thought about gay people.
I find it interesting that the same people who condemn
homosexuality as being a promiscuous lifestyle also say they're
against gay marriage because they wouldn't want to recognize
stable gay relationships, says Herek (Gallagher 24).
Rep. Barney Frank asks, "How can you argue that a man and woman in love are
somehow threatened because two women down the street are also in love?"
Later, he put the question in more personal terms. Frank said he respects
the marriages of fellow committee members but added, "I don't understand
for a minute how I demean them by living with a man" (U.S. House). Most
people, when asked the question "What is your opinion of gay
relationships?", their first response encompasses sex, promiscuity and AIDS.
When asked about heterosexual relationships they generally answer with
love, companionship, and families. If same-sex marriage is made legal, the
next generation won't think of it as taboo. It will just be another way of
life. All of the controversy has opened the ...
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