Homosexuality is everywhere. You can see it in books, on television, in the media; it is rapidly becoming a social norm. Given this trend of greater acceptance of gay marriage, the issue of whether to legalize same-sex marriage naturally arises. Massachusetts has led the way by legalizing gay marriage. Responding to this example, some states have taken steps towards accepting gay marriage while others are considering laws and constitutional amendments banning gay marriage within state borders. President George Bush has recently proposed a ban on gay marriage in the U.S. Constitution (Hulse). If Americans carefully examine the situation, however, they should all be able to understand the importance of making same-sex marriage legal in the United States.
Those opposing same-sex marriage claim that by allowing this act, marriages everywhere will lose their honor and validity (Kurtz). Marriages between a man and a woman would lose their special importance, these opponents argue, if the definition of marriage is expanded to include same-sex couples as well. The test of time has proven this fear pointless. For several years, Germany, Spain, and the Netherlands have allowed gay marriage without any signs of damage to heterosexual couples. Social life in these countries continues unchanged, and no dramatic increases have appeared in the divorce rate (Dilanian). One cannot argue that the so-called traditional marriages in Europe between a man and a woman have been made less valuable. Others seeking to ban gay marriage claim that allowing such marriages will corrupt America's family values by encouraging gay couples to raise families. Once again, real life reveals that these concerns lack foundation: gay couples have been raising children for years, and studies show that children are not harmed in any way by being raised in a gay family (Martin). If anything, the allowance of same-sex marriage would promote family stability by providing legal and economic benefits to gay parents. Legalizing gay marriage would strengthen families headed by same-sex parents while posing no threats to heterosexual families.
Anyone who respects individuals' rights to make choices about their private lives should respect the right for same-sex couples to marry. Protecting individual choice has been a keystone of American life. Americans have always been proud of their ability to speak freely, live and travel wherever they choose, and subscribe to the religious or philosophical beliefs that suit them best, all within the privacy of their homes. Why should the government have the power to limit the choices of Americans when it comes to marriage? As a matter of fact, American laws usually go out of their way to protect people's choices in marriage, even in extreme cases. Convicted murderers are allowed to marry one another, even while still in prison (Wedgwood). Given America's usual tendency for protecting the choices of individuals, it seems strange that many more states have not already legalized gay marriage. Once America moves beyond its unfortunate history of discriminating against homosexuals, it will realize that legalizing gay marriage is consistent with American core beliefs about individual choice.
Defending the rights of gay citizens to marry also advances the American dream of promoting equality and preventing discrimination. Gay marriage was declared legal by Massachusetts courts because the Massachusetts constitution forbids the creation of "second-class citizens" (Marech). The idea of all Americans being treated equally in the eyes of the law is also a core value of the United States Constitution and resonates in the hearts of citizens everywhere as morally right. The founders of this nation saw that protecting everyone's rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness was crucial, and that protecting the rights of unpopular citizens likely to face discrimination was even more crucial. Given these values, everyone should see the importance of defending the rights of homosexuals by legalizing gay marriage.
As we have seen, legalizing gay marriage would strengthen families, protect individuals' rights to choice and privacy, and combat discrimination while defending equality. Massachusetts has taken the first step by legalizing gay marriage within the borders of its state. Now it is time for the rest of the nation to follow: homosexuals deserve to have their marriage rights protected in every American state.
- Hulse, Carl. "Senate Emphasis on Ideology Has Some in G.O.P. Anxious." The New York Times, Jun 7, 2006. Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center. Thompson Gale Publishing. Retrieved 4-26-06.
- Dilanian, Ken. "Gay Marriage Old News in the Netherlands." Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service, May 28, 2004. Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center. Thompson Gale Publishing. Retrieved 4-26-06.
- Kurtz, Stanley. "Gay Marriage Threatens Families." Gay and Lesbian Families. Ed. Kate Burns. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2005.
- Martin, April. "Being Raised in a Gay Family Does Not Harm Children."
- Gay Marriage. Ed. Tamara L. Roleff. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1998.
- Marech, Rona. Justices Decline Battle Over Gay Marriage; Opponents Lose Bid to Challenge Massachusetts Law. San Francisco Chronicle, Nov 30, 2004.
- Wedgwood, Ralph. "Society Should Allow Same-Sex Marriage." Homosexuality. Ed. Mary E. Williams. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1999.