Saturday, November 7, 2009

Good News for Same-Sex Couples

As disgusting as it is, gay rights still aren’t recognized in America. It’s like the classic saying: one step forward, two steps back. When same-sex marriage became legalized in several states, it was then repealed in California, and little ground has been covered since. Hopefully, with measures in several states gaining momentum, same-sex couples will soon be free from discrimination and be able to live equal lives.

            Legalizing same-sex marriage is about more than just the word marriage, or the idea of the government condoning homosexuality. Issues include health benefits, sick leave, adoption, and child support. Same-sex couples just aren’t given the same consideration as heterosexual couples. If a partner is ill, the other cannot take sick leave to care for them. If they separate, how does child custody get determined? And it is much more difficult for same-sex couples to adopt children, which limits their partnership immensely. Seems unfair? It is, and not only to these couples, but to their potential children.

            So why are there still naysayers? Of course, there’s the usual “protecting the family” answer, which I thought was outdated years ago. Families with heterosexual couples are far from perfect many reasons: abuse, alcoholism and drug use, the high divorce rate, etc. Yet many still think that these problems are far less harmful than the idea of homosexual families. Larry Stickney of Protect Marriage Washington, referring to the imminent legalization of same-sex marriage in Washington, says that most citizens of the state  “are uncomfortable with the radical social agenda coming out of Seattle.” Apparently, the idea that two people in love should have the same rights as other couples is absolutely radical, whereas the standard practice of tearing families apart via divorce is normal and acceptable.

            Moreover, many of these same-sex marriage laws have provisions allowing members of religious groups to deny same-sex couples the right to marry in their church. With this in mind, I can only wonder why anyone would not accept these laws. Opponents say that marriage is between a man and a woman because the Bible says so, which is a valid point. However, that is the Bible, not United States law. It’s understandable that many don’t want same-sex marriages taking place in their church because their religion frowns upon homosexual couples. But it’s only fair to allow these couples to attain the legal benefits of marriage.

            Equality may be scary to many Americans, but moves in this direction have already been made. Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, New Hampshire and Vermont have already legalized same-sex marriage. And though such laws have been repealed in California and rejected in Maine, states like Washington and Michigan are moving in the right direction. Currently, Washington has laws that allow unions similar to marriage, and citizens are voting on an initiative to legalize full marriage. Political leaders in Michigan are attempting to bring the Michigan Constitutional ban on same-sex marriage to a vote so it can be repealed, the first step toward legalization.

            Same-sex marriage advocates have had their fair share of difficulties in the past several years, but equality seems to be looming on the horizon. For many, this will mean a huge improvement in their quality of life. Though homosexual couples are not yet widely accepted in the United States, there is a strong enough movement toward acceptance that I believe the day will come.


  1. “Apparently, the idea that two people in love should have the same rights as other couples is absolutely radical, whereas the standard practice of tearing families apart via divorce is normal and acceptable.”

    I thought this was a very clever argument that revealed the flaws in same-sex marriages. Conservative Anti-gay marriage advocates talk about preserving the ideal family, but they do not put their ideas into practice given the prevalent affairs of conservative politicians. Sometimes I think anti-gay marriage advocates deny gay couples civil rights because granting them these fundamental privileges would elevate homosexuals to an equal status. Since most catholic religions forbid homosexuality, some conservatives treat gay couples like the untouchables. In India, the untouchables are lowest caste and are denied respect and opportunity.

    ~Right Fringe

  2. I think a huge part of this is the politics of representation and naming. The institution of "marriage" is so tied to anglo-saxon, judeo-christian foundations. If we think about it, it wasn't until 40 years ago, Loving vs Virginia was overturned, which allowed for interracial marriage (previously it was banned).

    I wonder if there is any issue of trying to represent a certain idea of the "gay family" in order to fit who a gay person is suitably into the institution of marriage and its discourses?

    I think what is of utmost importance is ensuring there is equality of opportunity and rights no matter what your sexual orientation, gender identity, race, class, etc. We often find parity is not there, but it is definitely something to work towards.

  3. Gay marriage is such a frustrating issue for me because it is so obvious why it should be legalized but often I find it hard to argue against those who disagree with it since it just a basic value I hold. What many people need to realize is that gay marriage is a civil right. People were against interracial marriages at first (also really frustrating to think people were and still are against it) but now it is legal. It is now gay marriage’s turn to be legalized and the only way that will happen if people accept it as a matter of inequality, as opposed to making it a religious issue or a social issue, in that it will ruin families and society (I’m pretty sure heterosexuals do a good job of that already).

  4. I hate to say it, but I think the only solution for these kinds of social inequalities is time. The older, intolerant generations have to die out, and the younger ones, who see this as really a non-issue, will be the voting majority.
    Then we will look back and say, "Wow, can you believe we didn't let people get married to whomever they wanted?"

  5. Sadly, I agree that the only thing to do now is wait. Many supporters wish to repeal Prop 8 in 2010, but given the current state opinions, it would most likely face defeat-a devastating blow which would only hurt the campaign. This is forcing many of the large gay rights groups to wait until 2012 to get the measure on the ballot. Eventually gay marriage will be legal and hopefully everyone will be doubting how it was ever illegal in the first place.

  6. What are your thoughts on civil unions? Gay couples would be able to benefit from all of the same rights as stright couples, they just would not enjoy the title of “married”. If rights is what people are concerned with, then they should not care whether it is called a civil union or marriage.
    Conservatives would be able to maintain the “sanctity of marriage” and gay couples would be able to enjoy equal rights.