| Rhetorical Elements|
Point of View
MLA Works Cited
Figures of Speech
It is unbelievable that there is even a debate about same-sex marriage. This is really a no-brainer. It is the year 2004 and we are still having a debate about whether or not we should allow a minority to have equal protection under the law. That is what this debate is about. Do not be fooled. This is not about morals; this is not about ethics; most of all, this is not about God; this is about civil rights. Civil-unions are not an acceptable solution. The U.S. Supreme Court already ruled that separate is never equal, neither in principal, nor in practice. Legalizing same-sex marriage will have only positive effects or no effects on the general public. Same-sex couples face unfair disadvantages due to the fact that they cannot marry and this must be changed. Same-sex marriage must be legalized.
Many people do not appreciate the privileges that come with a marriage and the disadvantages same-sex couples have to cope with. One of the saddest disadvantages has to do with loved ones getting sick. In most states, when a person is critically ill in the hospital, only family members can visit. Right now, people are very sick and their partners are not allowed to lend moral support. This means that very often, a gay person can die without their life partner being able to be present. In many cases, they are not even informed about the death of their partner until days later. Then, they do not have any legal say over what happens to the body. Furthermore, even if a gay person's partner leaves explicit instructions in a will for their assets to be left to his or her partner, the immediate "legal" family may make things very difficult for the living partner. This is due to the laws which state that assets shall be given to the immediate surviving family member(s) (the spouse if there is one) after a person dies.
There are many simple inconveniences that same-sex couples have to deal with. A gay person will have trouble adding his or her partner's name on the registration of a car. A same-sex couple will not be able to get health insurance together. A same-sex couple will find it next to impossible to get a mortgage together. The list goes on.
Another privilege opposite-sex married couples take for granted has to do with custody of children. When an opposite-sex couple separates with a child, there are laws and procedures available to guide the couple through the process and to protect the child. When a same-sex couple has a child together and then separates, we can only hope they separate in a way which is not harmful to the child. It is irrelevant whether or not it is less healthy for a child to grow up with two parents of the same sex. It is our hope that a child grows up with two parents, but we do not make it illegal for parents to leave their children or for a single parent to adopt.
Civil-unions are not a viable solution to this debate because civil-unions are not even close to being equal to marriage. Civil-unions do not provide the same legal protections as marriage. The federal government provides civil marriages with 1,049 legal protections and responsibilities, all of which are not applicable to civil-unions (Gay & Lesbian). A few of these are Social Security survivor benefits, the right to take leave from work to care for a family member, and the right to sponsor a spouse for immigration purposes. Also, because the federal government does not respect civil-unions, couples are likely to be denied benefits and protections from the state as well. Functions performed by both the state and the federal government, such as taxation, pension protections, provisions of insurance for families, and means tested programs like Medicaid, will leave couples in civil-unions in limbo. States may not be able to provide couples in civil-unions these benefits because the joint state/federal programs will allow them to be (Gay & Lesbian).
The Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states that "no state shall deny... to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." When a state denies same-sex couples the right to marry, it is denying them the equal protection of the laws. In a free and fair society, all laws must be applied equally to all people. The United States, by denying same-sex couples the right to marry, treats gays like second-class citizens. It is no wonder then that there are more hate crimes toward gays than toward anyone else. Even during the weeks following September 11, 2001, there were more hate crimes towards gays than towards Arab Americans ("Toward Greater Equality"). This horrific fact goes to show that when a government treats a group of people unjustly, the people will do the same. If civil-marriage is not extended to same-sex couples, their children will continue to be treated like second class citizens as well because, they too, are being denied their Fourteenth Amendment rights. Without any custody laws that apply to same-sex couples, the children can be hurt the most. Also, the children of same-sex couples are more likely to be physically and verbally abused in school because the government does not sanctify their parents' relationship. This state sponsored bigotry should no longer be tolerated.
There are more reasons to legalize same-sex marriage. Doing so will have no negative effects. It will not undermine the institution of marriage. As Chief Judge Margaret Marshall of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court pointed out, the couples who challenged the state's marriage law "seek only to be married, not to undermine the institution of civil marriage. If anything, extending civil marriage to same-sex couples reinforces the importance of marriage to individuals and communities" ("Toward Greater Equality"). Procreation will not stop if same-sex marriage is legalized. There will not be a higher likelihood of people becoming gay. There is no evidence to show that people "become" gay. There is no evidence to show that it is unhealthy for children to grow up with two parents of the same sex. There is no evidence to show that same-sex couples have a negative effect on the community in which they live. Families run by same-sex couples are just as sacred as families run by couples of the opposite sex, and the government should recognize them both equally. Same-sex marriage will have no negative effects on society. The positive effects will be that a minority gains its civil rights and hate-crimes will probably decrease.
"I am not an advocate for frequent changes in law and constitution, but [changes in] laws and institutions go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind ... We might as well require a man to wear the same coat as fitted him when a boy." This Thomas Jefferson quote is a perfect reason for why it does not matter that marriage has always been one way. We have become enlightened as to the plight of same-sex couples, and we must act accordingly. It is our responsibility to make sure that the laws of our government are fair and just. The current laws which make same-sex marriage illegal are not fair and just. Because they are not, same-sex couples face unfair disadvantages, they are denied equal protection under the law, and civil-unions do not solve the problem. There is no good reason that the laws prohibiting same-sex marriage should be in place, which is why we must abolish them. In a free society, there must be a reason for a law to be in place, not a reason for it not to be. Same-sex marriage must be legalized and the time for action is now. It is your responsibility to protest the laws whether it be through writing to legislators or marching. If you want to live in a free and fair society you must stand up for the rights of people living in that society. A perfect way to do this is by standing up for the rights of same-sex couples by fighting to legalize same-sex marriage.
Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders. 16 Apr. 2004. <http://glad.org>
"Toward Greater Equality." St. Louis Post-Dispatch. 20 Nov. 2004. 16 Apr. 2004. <http://library.csun.edu/restrictd/lexis.src>.