Gay Marriage

The debate about gay marriage is a heated one, even within the gay community. There are those gays who say that marriage is an outdated institution or that we shouldn't aspire to gain the right to enter into a legal contract that has historically almost always resulted in the drastic decrease in the standard of living of one of the parties when the contract is dissolved. It's not my intent to argue the pros and cons of marriage— after all, even in the heterosexual community there are those who would agree with the negative image of marriage and the absurdity of gays' attempts to gain the right to marry. It's my intent to show why it is unlawful for state and federal lawmakers to deny gays the choice to marry.

The United States Constitution has but one purpose: to protect the rights of the individual from the majority rule (or "mob mentality") and from the government. Within this carefully worded document are enumerated the rights inherent to every human being who is a citizen of the US— rights not bestowed on us by the government, but rights it is the responsibility of the government to insure are protected. It also contains prohibitions against specific actions by the government, including the establishment of laws based on religious dogma or tenets. According to the fourteenth amendment of the US constitution, the laws of the US pertain to every US citizen and all are entitled to equal protection under the law. Contracts that are validly made in one state are equally valid in any other state. It is the fourteenth amendment that allows a married couple to move from state to state and not have to remarry in their new state because the validity of the marriage carries from state to state.

At one point in time, marriages were not the concern of the government. Marriage licenses were not issued and marriage was not necessarily even a religious ceremony. In some societies, the simple joining of hands with the intent to form a marriage was all that was required— even today, roughly 20% of the states recognize common law marriage as valid. Marriages were quite often arranged by family members and women were usually not given the choice of who they were to marry. Their fathers or brothers or uncles made those arrangements and the women had little choice but to comply because they did not have the right to own property/land or to make legally valid contracts by themselves. Marriage has changed many times over the years. Most marriages in the US are now based not on financial gain or an increase in the social standing of the family but on love. History is full of stories of forbidden love— of love unasked for or unlooked for. Love that goes against what is socially acceptable or religiously acceptable, and yet love that cannot be denied. Who we love is not something that we can control and certainly not something that the government has any right to legislate. Sadly, it wasn't until 1968 that blacks around the country were permitted to marry whites. It was once thought that allowing such marriages would destroy the family unit and would violate the laws of God and the Bible.

In the present day US, marriage has two meanings: religious and civil. Most religious marriage ceremonies are recognized by the US government as valid when performed by an ordained minister or duly appointed representative of the faith. However, there are some that do not receive this recognition because the couple being married is of the same gender. By recognizing as legally valid SOME marriages performed in a specific church but NOT recognizing others performed in that same church, the government is unconstitutionally interfering with that church's right to exercise their faith as they see fit. It is showing favoritism to certain churches by recognizing all their marriages as legally valid and such favoritism is also unconstitutional.

With the creation of civil marriages, the US government (and all state governments) bestowed on those who chose to marry certain rights (along with their inherent responsibilities). However, civil marriages have never needed to be recognized by a particular religion in order to be legally valid. For example, two Catholics who are married by a judge are not married in the eyes of the Catholic church, although they are still legally able to claim all the rights bestowed on married couples by the US government and by the various states.

By creating civil marriages, under the fourteenth amendment, the government of the US and of each individual state, must give each and every citizen the right to choose to marry. Individuals may elect not to exercise their right to marry: a Catholic priest, for example, opts out of his right to marry by becoming a priest if he wishes to remain within the folds of the Catholic church. However, even a Catholic priest, if he so chose, could go to any courthouse in the US and take out a marriage license and be legally married. He may lose his status as a priest, but he would not lose his status as a legally married man. Even a convicted child molester can get a marriage license because the US Supreme Court's 1967 ruling striking down miscegenation laws declared that the right to marry was inherent in the right to the pursuit of happiness. But current marriage laws, which dictate that marriage must be between one man and one woman, effectively take that choice away from gays. Roughly ten percent of the US adult population are denied the right to pursue their happiness through marriage.

Many reasons, detailed below, are given in an attempt to justify the current laws— but none of them have any logical basis, any factual basis or are in accordance with either the first amendment and/or the fourteenth amendment.

1. Marriage is for the purpose of procreation, and since gays cannot procreate, they cannot marry.

The willingness, desire or ability to procreate is not an issue with regards to the validity of any marriage. If this were a valid reason for denial of the right to marry, then those couples who chose not to have children, those who are infertile, women who are post menopausal, or anyone else who was incapable of procreation could not legally marry. No state requires procreation for a marriage to be considered valid and legal, therefore, to apply it to gays is to require gays to meet a "litmus" test that does not apply to others who marry. In addition, gays have available to them the same resources infertile couples have with regards to having children: in vitro fertilization, sperm banks and surrogate mothers. (Adoption is an option not available in all states.)

2. Marriage was designed by God for one man and one woman.

This is invalid for the simple reason that it is based on religious beliefs, and as such, is not a valid reason for the government to dictate that marriage remain between one man and one woman. There are many faiths the world over that recognize multiple marriages (Islam to name just one) and even same sex relationships (as witnessed by native Hawaiian traditions).

There is a "sub-argument" along this same line: that the definition of marriage is a legal contract between one man and one woman to live as husband and wife. However, such a definition is not universal: marriage in some Middle Eastern countries can occur between one man and more than one woman. In addition, definitions are created by man and change over time. The definition now is due to the traditional usage, not to some inherent definition of marriage. The definition of marriage is subjective to the culture in which it is used, unlike, for example, the definition of oxygen, which is the same no matter what the culture. Word definitions expand to include new meanings. Fifty years ago, a dictionary wouldn't have included "law enforcement officer" in the definition of the word "pig", but now it does. Marriage, husband and wife will take on new meanings too. Marriage will become "a legal contract between consenting adults to create a family unit". Husband will become "a married man" rather than "the spouse of a woman" and wife will become "a married woman" instead of "the spouse of a man".

3. Gay sex is unnatural.

There are no sexual activities that gays perform in their bedrooms that are not performed in the bedrooms of heterosexuals. Nor is it any concern of the government what two consenting adults do in their bedroom— which is why sodomy laws the nation over have been declared unconstitutional. Anal sex is, among teens, very popular because it reduces the risk of pregnancy. There are those who say that the unnaturalness of gay sex is "proven" by the fact that one is using a part of the body that was meant for waste removal (the anus) for sexual pleasure. This completely ignores the fact that the penis is also for waste removal as is the vagina. But all logical arguments aside, the statement that gay sex is unnatural is simply false. Homosexual bondings have been documented in more than 400 different species, particularly among bonobos, whose tribes consist of almost exclusively bisexual creatures.

4. Homosexuality is immoral.

Morals are, when you get right down to it, completely subjective and completely based on one's beliefs with respect to God or the lack thereof. While one's morals may be influenced by society, religion, friends, family, co-workers or any number of other factors, in the end, it comes down to what each individual feels is morally correct. There are many Catholics, for example, who are pro-choice despite the Catholic Church's official position on the issue of abortion. Even those who claim that morality came from God and is therefore not subjective ignore the fact that they chose to follow a faith that declares that God dictates what is moral and what is not, and that makes their morality as subjective as the next individual's. Because morality is based on an individual's beliefs, and because such beliefs are protected under the US Constitution, the government cannot create any laws that dictate morality. At least not constitutionally...

The only way to allow each person to follow their moral conscience is to allow each individual to do what they want as long as it doesn't violate another's right to do the same. I don't kill because I'm violating another's right to live their life as they see fit. I don't steal because I'm violating another's right to live their life as they see fit by spending their money where they want. However, not everyone abides by this voluntary limitation of one's actions (which is nothing more than the inherent responsibility that accompanies every right we have), so in accordance with the requirements of the US Constitution, it is the job of the government to insure that this right is protected. To such an end, laws are made forbidding certain activities— but the only purpose of such laws must be to protect every individual's right to do as they want with their life. Every law must pass a single litmus test: does it protect everyone?

For example, laws on drunk driving are just laws— a drunk driver is putting the lives of others at increased risk without their consent or permission. Laws protecting children from sexual predators, child abusers, those who would seek to profit of the labor of children— all these laws would stay in place since children need the protection of society until they are mature enough to make their own choices and be responsible for the consequences of those choices. But laws such as the current marriage laws fail this litmus test. They not only do not protect everyone, they harm roughly ten percent of the citizenry directly and a lot more indirectly, through the propagation of misinformation and legalized discrimination.

5. Gays do not make good parents.

First, one's parenting ability is not tested before marriage and has no bearing on whether or not one is permitted to legally marry. Statistically, in the US, most child sexual predators are white, heterosexual, Christian, married males. So using the logic that bad parents can't marry and child molesters make horrible parents due to the danger of molestation their children are in, it would be more fitting to deny white, heterosexual, Christian males the right to marry.

Second, there are no studies by independent organizations that come to the conclusion that gays are bad parents. Children of gay parents are no more likely to be gay than children of heterosexual parents. In fact, due to their need to look deep within themselves to find a sense of self-worth in spite of society's treatment of them, gays are often more understanding of the child's need to grow into who they are and are often more in touch with that process than many heterosexuals, who take what and who they are for granted. A national organization of pediatricians, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), recently released a statement in support of gay adoptions.

6. Allowing gays to marry will destroy marriage as we know it.

This is a true statement in one respect: it will change the definition of marriage as we know it. However, it will NOT change each couple's understanding and definition of their marriage. It will not force churches to recognize marriages that go against their faith. It will in no way take away from the validity and legality of any heterosexual marriage. It will simply expand the definition of marriage, just as the US Supreme courts ruling that blacks were indeed human expanded the definition of human from what it was then— but it made whites no less human. In fact, current statistics from Denmark show that after gay marriages were allowed, heterosexual marriage rates rose and heterosexual divorce rates dropped. In addition, gay divorce rates were roughly one fourth that of heterosexual divorces. Rather than destroying heterosexual marriage, allowing gay marriages has apparently strengthened heterosexual marriage.

7. It will force me to pay taxes to support something I don't believe in— to pay for the benefits given to gay couples.

First, gays are paying taxes now and we have been for a long time and are therefore footing part of the bill for the benefits heterosexuals are permitted but we are denied. Second, we ALL must pay taxes and sometimes that goes to support things we don't believe in. I personally don't believe in the war on drugs, and yet my tax dollars are going to fight that war— which is as pointless as Prohibition was 70+ years ago. By accepting citizenship in the US, we each agree to pay our taxes and to allow our duly elected representatives to determine where to spend those taxes.

8. The majority of people don't want to change the meaning of marriage to include gays.

If they're speaking of religious marriage, that's fine. There's no reason they have to. But if they're speaking of civil marriage, "MAJORITY RULES" MEANS NOTHING WHEN THE RIGHTS OF EVEN ONE INDIVIDUAL ARE BEING VIOLATED. The US, contrary to popular belief, is not a true democracy. In a true democracy, majority rule is the law of the land all the time. The US is, was designed to be and hopefully will continue to be a constitutional republic wherein the Constitution protects the rights of the individual from majority rule.

9. This country was founded on Biblical principles and to allow gay marriages is to betray our heritage.

I have heard this so many times, and never really stopped to consider what it meant. But one day, I did. And you know, it got me thinking.

The US Constitution guarantees freedom of religion with the intent of not putting one religion above any other. (Read Jefferson's autobiography on the attempt to have the words "Jesus Christ" put into the preamble of the VA State constitution and why it was soundly defeated.) Yet the first commandment says, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." How is it possible to allow freedom of religion and yet honor this commandment? How is it possible to say, "I give equal status to every faith" and yet remain faithful to the Christian belief that Christianity is the only true faith? The Bible teaches that those who marry nonbelievers are "unequally yoked". Unequal, by definition, implies that one is greater than the other. Christianity's basic tenet is that it is the only true faith. It is the Christian's duty, according to many, to convert everyone else to Christianity. Please explain to me how this is in keeping with the founding fathers' goal of respecting all faiths.

The US Constitution guarantees equality for all. Yet Biblical principals teach that women must not hold authority over men. It also teaches that slavery is acceptable and instructs Christians how to treat slaves. Please explain to me how this is in keeping with the founding fathers' goal of equality for all.

Most of the "Biblical principles" called the Ten Commandments are nothing but specific instances of the Golden Rule. You honor your father and mother because you want your kids to honor you when you are a parent. You don't murder because you don't want to be murdered. You don't commit adultery because you don't want your spouse cheating on you. You don't steal because you don't want to be stolen from. You don't lie because you don't want to be lied to. All of these "Biblical principles" are simply another way of saying "do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

"This is the sum of duty. Do not unto others that which would cause you pain if done to you." — Mahabharata 5:1517, from the Vedic tradition of India, circa 3000 BC.

As you can see, the Golden Rule PREDATES Christianity. It even predates the first appearance in Judaism by 1700 years.

"What is hateful to you, do not to our fellow man. That is entire Law, all the rest is commentary."— Talmud, Shabbat 31a, from the Judaic tradition, circa 1300 BC.

"Therefore all things whatsoever you desire that men should do to you, do you even so to them. For this is the Law and the prophets."— New Testament, Matthew 7:12, from the Christian tradition, circa 30 AD

(Taken from this list of the chronological order throughout history of the Golden Rule.)

So someone please explain to me how this country is founded on Biblical principles when the Biblical principles themselves are founded on traditions much older than Christianity and even Judaism?

10. Allowing gays marriage rights will overburden the current system that pays benefits.

On the contrary, as it stands right now, gay women with children who cannot legally marry their partner may be forced to go on welfare in order to support the higher costs she will have to pay as a single mother. She may have to rely on state sponsored health care programs since she is denied the right to be placed on her partner's medical insurance program. By prohibiting married gays from adopting, children waiting to be adopted are denied a chance to have a loving home— and the state is forced to continue to support them. It also denies the children of a gay couple the security of having two parents— and if something were to happen to the birth parent, lengthy and costly legal battles could ensue. Again, if gays are going to be denied the benefits that their heterosexual counterparts can obtain merely be marrying, then gays should not be forced to pay taxes to support benefits they are denied.

11. Gays are seeking special rights.

This is a false statement. Gays are seeking equal rights— rights that heterosexuals already possess such as the right to marry who they love. Gays are also seeking the protection of the law to prevent them from being fired for who they love or for being denied housing because of who they love. Heterosexuals (except in rare circumstances) cannot be fired because of who they love, cannot be denied housing because of who they love and are free to marry who they love.

12. Gays already HAVE the right to marry as long as they meet the definition of marriage as defined by laws. It's no different than meeting requirements for, say, head of a household with respect to the IRS.

Again, this kind of "logic" appears to be valid, but it is not. It is based on a false premise: that the definition of marriage is fixed and unchanging. Marriage is a legally binding contract in the eyes of the US legal system. Legally binding contracts are not "gender specific". A lease, for example, is valid regardless of the gender of the one signing the lease. There are, in some instances, contracts that require gender specific wording, such as modeling contracts. But there is a valid and obvious reason for such requirements: for example, men's clothing fits differently on women and therefore isn't shown in its "best light" when worn by a female model. There are no such reasons for marriage: when applying for a marriage license, no one is questioned as to why they are marrying, only that they are doing so of their free will. No one is required to swear that they'll have children. There is no valid or obvious reason why marriage must be a gender specific contract.

13. It forces public employees who find gay marriage morally wrong to go against their faith by issuing marriage licenses for gays. (In truth, this would only be true if gay marriage was legal, but it does apply in Vermont in the case of civil union licenses.)

Again, this appears to be a valid argument. However, there are already laws in place that protect employees from having to do things that violate their faith. One cannot require a Muslim to handle pork products if s/he is an employee of a food service vendor. A county clerk that objects on religious grounds to issuing a marriage license to gays can have someone else issue the license. However, this would only apply to those employees who are not elected. Elected officials are obligated to uphold the laws of the US, even if they don't agree with them. John Ashcroft is openly against abortion, yet he must uphold the laws of the country at allow abortion clinics to operate and to protect them from those who seek to shut them down. This is a fact that is known by anyone running for office. If they make the choice to run anyway, they accept the fact that they may be asked to do things that violate their faith. If they don't want to do things that violate their faith, they don't run for office. But once in office, they cannot then impose their beliefs on the general public by refusing to do their duly appointed duties.

To summarize, there are no valid reasons for denying gays the right to marry. In fact, laws that do so are in direct violation of the US Constitution and must be overturned/set aside. Gays are US citizens: we pay taxes, we vote, we serve in the military, on police forces, in fire departments, as emergency medical technicians. Gays are doctors, teachers, trash collectors, bankers, farmers, actors, pastors, nuns, construction workers, telephone operators, taxi cab drivers— there's no profession that doesn't have gay members. There's no socioeconomic level that has no gays. There's no religion, no race, no nationality that has no gays. As citizens of the US, we are entitled to equal rights: the US Supreme Court has already declared the right to marriage as an inherent right to the pursuit of happiness. Laws denying gays the right to marry are denying gays their civil rights. Majority opinion means nothing when the rights of even one person are being denied. In this instance, the rights of more than 30 million US citizens are being denied. To allow it to continue because of fear and ignorance is as unconscionable as most American's now believe laws prohibiting marriage between blacks and whites once were.

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