Gay Marriage – A Human Perspective

Editor's Note: As some of you may or may not know I am taking my core requirements for my Anthropology degree at a local community college. By doing this is I have reduced my expense in the cost of paying for my degree. However, in order to transfer to a full accredited university, I must meet a certain criteria.

One of those criteria is the requirement of college research English. Why do bring this nostalgic moment up? Once again, the recycled debate of gay marriage has hit the political landscape. Three years ago, when the political savvy elite found fodder in rehashing this a "cultural war" gem as a way to engergize the religious right base, I wrote research for this class. So, I dusted it off and I submit it to you for your appraisal or discussion. One further point, I would like to acknowledge my instructor for all his patience and guidance – Bob O'Connell.

Dateline: June O5, 2006

Warner T. Huston, of the Publius’ Forum, advocates the amending the US Constitution to restrict a personal liberty in order to curtail the “judicial activism.” There is something funny about “judicial activism,” there are only “activist judges” when “they,” the judges, disagrees, most often, with a particular social, cultural, or policy in the opinion of the dissenter, whether they are Left, or Right.

For instance, conservatives (and some right thinking Lefties) railed when the US Supreme Court ruled that in Connecticut that it was okay in the view of public policy to condemn a private citizen’s property in lieu of a corporate entity. On the other hand, the liberals were dismayed when again, the US Supreme Court, ruled that the Ku Klux Klan have a right to free speech even in the form of what could be considered “hate speech.”

The opinion of the judiciary is sometime behind the curve (think Jim Crow laws) and sometimes ahead (think Roe v Wade); nonetheless, “judicial activism” is in the eye of the beholder. Which brings me to another point of consideration of Warner’s discourse, that the restriction of personal liberty, and I must add, “Of consenting adults” as necessity to combat the social mores of a US citizen. To restrict freedom only invites a festering dissension and resentment. At present, although not sanctioned by law, same-sex marriage is not banned. This should remain a state issue, to cede authority to federal government gives more power to the Executive, US Congress, and the US Senate and will be far more difficult to wrest away from the “representative” government when needed.

Furthermore, to have a constitution convention to modify in the current state of patriotic religious fervor would be far more dangerous than the actual amendment. It is fortunate that the Founding Fathers made the modification of the “great experiment” so difficult. The rules state as follows, per the interpretation of the US Senate website.

The Constitution may be amended in two ways. The standard device, used for all amendments so far, is for both houses of Congress to pass by two-thirds vote a proposal, which they send to the states for ratification, either by state legislatures or by conventions within the states. An amendment is ratified when three-fourths of the states approve. The Constitution also authorizes a national convention, when two-thirds of the states petition Congress for such a convention, to propose amendments, which would also have to be ratified by three-quarters of the states.

In these rules we find rationality and temperament, in that, the nation should never rage to the popular movement in order to constraint or advocate without active discourse. In the case of the marriage amendment, cynical political rhetoric was clearly being used to influence, to cajole the far right Christian base of the president in order to energize his base. Overall public clarity saw through this, not because of any public prescience, but the State of the Union is in disarray due in part of missteps of the Executive administration. There may be “a constant statistic” of 70 percent in favor “traditional marriage,” but less than half of those “traditionalist” want an amendment to make it so, and that to has been a “constant statistic.” One final point, there is a reason why Founders separated centralized religion, and that was to save the nation from emotional, irrational, and divisiveness of religion sweeping politics. Fortunately for us, it is just another day in paradise and the devil of emotional chaos and confusion has been left at the doors of Eden…..

Definitions:

Marriage – according to “Webster’s Third New International Dictionary (unabridged)” that marriage is “the state of being united to a person of the opposite sex as husband or wife” (1384). Furthermore, it also is the institution “whereby men and women are joined in a special kind of social and legal dependence for the purpose of founding and maintaining family.”

Gay – is defined by the Webster’s dictionary in respect to this paper –“ homosexuals” – relating to, or being a socially integrated group oriented toward and concerned with the welfare of homosexuals (941).

Homosexual ­– is an adjective describing a person who is or “of relating to or marked by sexual interest in the same sex as oneself; and, or relating to, or involving sexual intercourse with members of the same sex. (1085)"

Gay Marriage – is simply the state of being united with a person same sex in a special kind of social, and legal dependence, and possibly for founding and maintaining a family.

Introduction

So what is the controversy regarding “Gay Marriages?” Could it be that if allowed, Americans might have to accept and acknowledge that gay and lesbians “perceived abnormal behavior” is no more different from a person of color? How can a “normal” uniformed citizenry deny the right of freedom of choice in the 21st century? How can the government? How can religion? The answer is that what is perceived as “normal” by American cultural standards is that one male and one female – heterosexual marriage – are “normal” and nothing outside of the “norm” will be accepted. However, this denial of freedom, of expression, and of choice, even to a “small segment of the people” is a denial to “all the people.” Thus, is the controversy. So, we as a free principled society ask, "Can we as Americans, as a people, look at 'ourselves' in the mirror and truly say that every law abiding American has 'true' freedom of choice?" The simple is, no.

Thesis Statement

Gay marriages should be allowed between two consenting adults, they should be afforded all the privileges that go with it, and the government should lead the way.

Government Opposition

Opposition (1)

 

Question – Why does the government oppose gay marriages? The simple answer – because its citizenry does. For instance, Charles T. Canady R-Fla., said “lawmakers have responsibility to draw a legal distinction between heterosexual marriages and unions between people of the same sex …What is at stake in this controversy? … Nothing less than our collective moral understanding … of the essential nature of family.” (Idelson) This attitude by the Florida representative gives insight as to where the perceptions of collective heads of our government are regarding gay marriage. Thus, if gay marriages are allowed then the foundation of American society, the family, will be pillaged bringing further decay to an already rotting society. However, there are other reasons behind the government’s opposition: the United States Constitution. Article IV of the United States constitution states that every state must recognize and give with “Full Faith and Credit” to the “public acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings” of other states (Human Events). In other words, if one state were to accept the covenant of same sex marriages then the other 49 states would have to honor the contract of the couple. Thus, the issuing state would be imposing its will on a citizenry that has not voted up or down on whether to recognize gay marriages.

Such a case happened in 1996. A lesbian couple, wanting to have their marriage allowed, went to the Hawaiian Supreme Court, only to have it dropped later in 1999 because of a decisive public referendum. Thus, the public’s outcry for banning gay marriages in 1999 cannot be interpreted as reasoned or thought through but is a result of a core emotional reaction to what it perceives as “normal” by the American public. Moreover, back in 1996 when the possibility of gay marriages might have been formally recognized as legitimate, the United States House of Representatives in July passed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Soon after, the United States Senate joined the House on September 10, 1996 in passing DOMA. Moreover, President Clinton signed it into law to help bolster his re-election chances. What is DOMA?

The purpose of DOMA is to amend Article IV, Section 1 of the US Constitution along with Chapter 1 of Title of the US code by adding a new section. The former, Article IV, Section 1 gives the Congress the right to “prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof.” Therefore, the US Congress can interpret what is “Full Faith and Credit” for the states. The latter, Chapter 1, Section 7 is an additional segment to the chapter that states, “ … the word ‘marriage’ means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife.” Furthermore, “the word ‘spouse’ refers to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife (Human Events).” Therefore, the United States Congress chose to reflect an anxious American public outcry that gay marriages not be allowed in order to preserve the “American family.”

Family Opposition

Opposition (2)

Some would say that the degradation of the family began soon after the French Revolution. Far fetched? In the West, marriage was the Domain of the Roman Catholic Church until the Reformation, and nothing more than a licensed concubinage. According to Kevin Grace (15-16) in his article, “Why Save the Nuclear Family?” the late sociologist Christopher Lasch stated that by the end of the 19th century marriage and family was viewed by American newspapers and magazines as being in crisis. Their view was that with the “rising rate of divorce, the falling birthrate with ‘better sort of people’, the changing role of women, and the ‘so called revolution in morals’” the traditional family could no longer exist with the ever-changing world of modernization. As an example of this, the divorce rate increased fifteen-fold between 1870 and 1920. Nearly one out of seven marriages ended in divorce and with no sign of reversing itself. How does this data support the opposition? Simple, the “revolution” in morals has deconstructed the family sense of community, of “kinship network” (15). With the loss of the family unit, the closeness of the grandparents and cousins for all practical purposes are non-existent, because of the impracticability of modern life. Thus same sex marriages, if allowed, then would virtually emasculate traditional marriage altogether. Moreover, this is the fear of the “conservative” right as well as of the majority of the American public who views homosexuality as “outside” of normal behavior.

However, for the “conservative right” it goes deeper than the loss of normalcy and affects Americans spiritually. Religious leaders have used the events of September 11 to show America’s lack of morals, and that it has contributed to the destruction of the American family. Thereby, if Americans decide to cave into the “gay rights movement” by allowing same-sex marriages, God would then condemn America forever.

Opposition (3)

The Religious Perspective

In the opinion of Dennis Prager, from the Public Interest, in his article "Homosexuality, The Bible, and US – A Jewish Perspective.” Is that “It is impossible for Judaism to make peace with homosexuality, because homosexuality denies most fundamental values … denies life … it denies God … (and) denies (what) the Bible prescribes for all mankind – the family.” He discusses the spiritual and religious reasoning for denying gay marriages.

In fact, he states the allowance of gay marriages would be immoral and that “even if homosexuals have ‘no choice’ we offer our compassion.” However, this does not extend to giving up the “heterosexual marital ideals.” The roles of men and women have been clearly defined as such; it is one of the primary reasons why same sex marriages should not be allowed. Prager points out, that “men need women” and vice versa – stating that “when God solved man’s aloneness by creating one other person, a woman – not a man, not a few women, not a community of men and women.” Meaning that man’s sole purpose, in regards to loneliness, is not found in the function of a community or the same sex, but his completion of being with one woman.

Thus, when men and women marry they become fully human (Prager). Therefore, when God created man, he created both male and female. He created “them” not “you guys” or “you gals.” Therefore, marriage is not only a tribute to God, but to the community as a whole. In addition, when a man gets married to a female he is “choosing life,” meaning that he has chosen to procreate and establish a legacy. In the view of Judaism, homosexuality is death, because it fails to propel the human species forward without additional assistance (Prager).

Furthermore, the homosexual lifestyle for males breeds infidelity, which is more the rule than the exception. Although in the modern era, infidelity is one of the primary reasons for divorce among heterosexual couples. However, this is due to lack of modern morality more than a perceived abnormality. So, what is at stake for religion if tolerance and the resulting laws for gay marriages are allowed? Simply, the foundation of ideals set forth by Judeo-Christian civilization is at stake. In other words, the “sexual behavior (of a society) plays a role in either building or eroding a civilization (Prager).” That behavior is a key to the survival of a civilization.

Ideal Government

Support (1)

The United States is founded on the ideals of individualism, liberty, and freedom. It is the right of every American to pursue happiness. The idea of not allowing a group of people to pursue their “ultimate happiness” is contrary to the establishment of this country. To deny the rights of marriage, simply because of the antiquated notion of what marriage should look like is discriminatory at the least and invidious at the worse. M.D. A. Freeman states that “Overcoming prejudice – which remains at the root of most opposition – will be difficult… If we believe in autonomy … and believe that the institution of marriage is valuable … it is difficult to justify depriving homosexuals and lesbians of this treasured form of human association.” Moreover, to allow murderers, rapists, and those with communicable disease such as HIV-infection or those who suffer from AIDS as well as transvestites or transsexuals to marry, as long as one was born the opposite sex, is inconsistent. The view of the government should be that marriage is the right of every citizen no matter the politics or sexual behavior (Freeman 1-17).

Furthermore, the government should be encouraging gay marriages because its what is good not only for the person, but also good for a community of people. To limit a people by restricting their happiness is intrinsically wrong. According to Freeman, in 1967 when the “state of Virginia was challenged by Loving, it could have argued that the incidents of marriage were designed with same-race marriages in mind.” However, they did not. Why? Because they knew that they had crossed the line. Discrimination is discrimination no matter what forms it tries to disguise itself.

Therefore, the government should lead the people, and enforce the public laws that are currently on the books so that equal opportunity for all people is rightly represented no matter what their sexual orientation. As a group with equal protection under the law, they should be allowed to explore all the possibilities of institutional marriage including that of having a family.

Support (2)

Families Coming Out

What constitutes a family? According to Webster ‘s Third International Dictionary – it is a group of individuals living under one roof – a household; they may share the same ancestry, and have common religious and political views. Simply, family can be a group that shares a common goal from the parent on down to the child or whomever resides within the home.

The “gay-rights movement” sees the worry that most citizens may have regarding children being raised by adults that society considers abnormal. However, the advocates of gay marriage can argue that heterosexual homes fare no better. Some examples of this are the Jerry Springer Show, Ricki Lake, Jenny Jones reflected in the world of pop culture. For instance one Jenny Jones’ show “Teenagers Gone Wild”, discussing teenagers girls and their promiscuity defying their parents rules about school and household rules.

When it comes to family, Americans seem to want to band together on what they perceive a family and marriage is. Whatever the popular culture is reflecting about America, the gay-rights advocates are asking for a major cultural change. However, some states may concede to adopt a new type of institution referred to as a “civil union”; the state of Vermont is the first state to have civil unions (Sullivan). Although civil unions will have all the legal rights as an institutional marriage, many view this step, in the gay-rights movement, as a half measure. Moreover, although civil unions may recognize the partnerships of same-sex commitments, the perceptual view of it will not be same as marriage. Not quite condoning, nor condemning gay marriages. They concede that civil unions however are a step in the right direction. They question whether the public will afford them “all” the opportunities that marriage brings.

For instance – will a gays or lesbians be able to raise their own children how they want, have the right to adopt, take in foster children, or have the opportunity to be Big Brother/Sisters? The continual social stigma of raising a child that has two parents that are of the same-sex can be hard. However, more and more families are coming out of the shadows into the mainstream of public life. In an article in the Newsweek Lifestyle section, once the child has an opportunity to accept their differences from other families they are essentially no worse off than other “normal” families. Although social acceptance of “gay families” has a long way to go, the continual “outing” of families will most likely allow Americans more tolerance for the differences. This may eventually lead to the religious acceptance of gay marriages and same-sex families.

Religious Tolerance

There is a movement afoot, and the foundation seems to be coming from within the chapel itself – tolerance. In an article written by Chris Glasner, he writes a two-fold story; one is set in subtext regarding his homosexuality in the ministry, and the other is the direct message regarding his marriage to his life partner. He discusses back in 1996 how his “calling” and his “marriage” were under attack because of the legal hoopla in Hawaii. In 1996, three gay couples challenged the state of Hawaii regarding the same-sex marriage license status (Kunen). Glasner recalls how this is a cultural issue among heterosexuals and how they “scapegoated the lesbian and gay communities”. He recalls how is family and his biological families came under attack; and, the battle from within his own church regarding the dynamic of gay-marriage and families. The final resolution that was written showed the tolerance within his church and the church congregation. What this story shows is that religion is adaptable, and that doctrine is not always absolute.

However, the real battle for religious acceptance will most likely come in the form of secularism. In other words, the battle for acceptance must come in a form of a three-prong attack. First, the gay-rights movement must persuade legislators that being gay is not hazardous to the public wellness. Secondly, and this is most important, that the coveted institution of marriage will not be undermined. In fact, the institution itself may be better off with the stability of committed lesbians and gay-partners (Freeman). Thirdly, the underlining church and state laws regarding homosexuality sodomy must be separated if the culture of intolerance is to be broken (Clark). Why must the separation of Church and State be torn apart? Answer – because the continued entanglement of Church and State culture will foster the furtherance of intolerance. In addition, as long as the two are tied together the State cannot be swayed out of its long irrationality of tradition. Therefore, the “real harm being gay consists of being the victim of homophobia and heterosexism;” thus the denial to right of marriage (Freeman).

By the publics inculcating homosexuality, they can demoralize the gay-rights movement as a result of not allowing “them” into the fold of normal society. Why? Because those who would deny this inalienable right realize that gay and lesbian partnerships would have the same stabilizing factors as does the heterosexual partnerships with individuals and community. Moreover, the opposition feels that the civil advantages of marriage belong to strictly to the heterosexuals (Clark).

The enculturation of heterosexual marriage is so engrained that the “gay rights” movement must use the popular culture of America to find its acceptance. Therefore, only by exposing the American public to their message can they change the minds of the next generation.

Summary

The two sides have many reasons for what “they” believe is valid. For instance, the opposing religious view is that gay marriage is immoral, that it invites death to a civilization. On the other hand, the government is reflecting what the American public wants. Moreover, the opposing family view feels that the exclusivity of what makes up a family should be that of heterosexuals and sees nothing wrong denying its accessibility to “marriage.” While the proponents of gay marriages feel that social acceptance is dependent upon how the government leads it people, and will be the only way that Americans will be more tolerant of “their” lifestyle. Moreover, the proponents of gay-families feel that with their “coming out” that the American culture must find a way to adapt to the differences in families. In addition, with movement within some religious circles towards homosexuals there may be eventual change on the idea of gay marriages.

Conclusion

The success of gay marriages and gay families are solely dependent on three factors: the government, the gay-rights educating the public and finally, the tolerance of religious leaders. The last two will take time and energy, but the first will take a concerted effort by the gay-rights movement to remind the government that “they” are also part of the “people.” To put it simply, two consenting adults should be allowed to marry no matter what their sexual orientation. After all, at least from a human perspective, “they” – gays and lesbians – are Americans too; and, “they” have a right to the freedom of choice and expression as well.

Works Cited

Clark, Thomas W. “Secularism and sexuality. The case for gay equality” Humanist 54.3 (May/June 94): EBSCO HOST Research Database. 26 Feb. 2003. http://0-search.epnet.com.skyline.cudenver.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&an=9406031590

Freeman, M. D. A. “Not Such A Queer Idea: Is There a Case for Same-Sex Marriages?” Journal of Applied Philosophy 16.1 (1999): 26 Feb 2003. http://0-search.epnet.com.skyline.cudenver.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&an=4374093

Glaser, Chris “Marriage As We See It” 128.12 (9/96) Newsweek: 26 Feb 2003. http://www.highbeam.com/library/doc1.asp?docid=1G1:18662356&refid=SEO

Grace, Kevin Michael “Why Save the Nuclear Family?” The Report 2 Sept. (2002): 26 Feb 2003. http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_hb3543/is_200209/ai_n8358586

Kunen, James “Hawaiian Courtship” Time 128.27 (12/96): 26 Feb. 2003. http://www.time.com/time/archive/preview/0,10987,985702,00.html

Idelson, Holly “Panel Okays Bill To Undercut Same-Sex Marriages” Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report 54.24 (06/96): 26 Feb 2003. http://web20.epnet.com

“Same-Sex ‘Marriage’ Imperils the family” Human Events 52.20 (5/96): 26 Feb. http://0-search.epnet.com.skyline.cudenver.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&an=9605260578

Prager, Dennis “Homosexuality, The Bible, and US – A Jewish Perspective” 93.112: 26 Jun 2006 http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0377/is_n112/ai_14466341

Sullivan, Andrew “State of the Union” New Republic 16.1 (1999): 26 Feb 2003. http://0-search.epnet.com.skyline.cudenver.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&an=3059571

 

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One Response to “Gay Marriage – A Human Perspective”

  1. All Criminal Records in One Database Says:

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