I know some gays and lesbians, and I like them and realize that they are capable of long-term, committed, same-sex relationships. I would not deny them the ability to marry someone they love simply because they love someone of the same sex as themselves. Therefore, I am for same-sex civil marriage.
Arguments For Same-Sex Marriage
My main reason for wanting to allow same-sex couples to be legally joined in a civil marriage is that marriage is a way for committed couples, whether same sex or opposite sex, to show love and commitment to each other. Many same-sex couples have been together for years, are deeply in love, and wish to be married. Kathy Belge tells the story of how she came to be married to Tay, her partner of almost twelve years, in her online article “A Lesbian Marriage: I Wed My True Love.”
In February 2004 she and her partner went to San Francisco in order to be legally married. Ms. Belge was so nervous that she held out the wrong hand for her partner to put the ring on. Ms. Belge had to take the ring off and put it on the correct hand. Ms. Belge writes, “They say every woman dreams of her wedding day. As a child, I never did. But if I had, I don’t think I could have imagined a day with more meaning. It meant so much to be able to share that moment with so many other couples. My wedding day was not just about me and my beloved. It was about making a statement for the rights of people everywhere to be able to love whom they please.”
All adult same-sex couples who wish to be married should have the same right to be married in civil ceremonies as adult opposite-sex couples. In addition, same-sex couples need to be married to enjoy important rights that heterosexual married couples have. Mary Bonauto, Project Director, Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD), wrote this on the GLAD Web site on 15 August 2003: “While gay and lesbian families can protect themselves in limited ways by creating wills, health-care proxies and co-parent adoptions, this does not come close to emulating the automatic protections and peace of mind that marriage confers. People cannot contract their way into changing pension laws, survivorship rights, worker’s-compensation dependency protection or the tax system, to name just a few.”
Evidence for this can be found in the experience of many gay and lesbian couples. For example, Kenneth Jost, whose CQ Researcher article “Gay Marriage: Should Same-Sex Unions Be Legally Recognized?” appears online, Bill Flanigan and Robert Daniel, who were a gay couple in San Francisco, protected themselves as much as possible by registering themselves as domestic partners under a San Francisco law. In addition, Daniel executed a health-care proxy. This proxy allowed Flanigan to make medical decisions for Daniel, who had AIDS.
Unfortunately, on Oct. 16, 2000, Daniel was admitted to the University of Maryland’s Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore. Because Daniel and Flanigan were not legally married, and despite the health-care proxy that Daniel had executed, Flanigan was not allowed to see Daniel in his hospital room. Not until four hours had passed and Daniel’s mother and sister arrived was Flanigan allowed to see Daniel. By then, Daniel was unconscious, and he died before the two men were able to say goodbye.
Jost also points out that legal marriage also gives other rights that gay and lesbian couples do not enjoy. For example, under the law marital communications are confidential: A spouse cannot be made to testify against his or spouse. Marriage also has important financial and tax benefits. For example, Richard Linnell has a health policy that covers the child whom he and his partner, Gary Chalmers, adopted, but to have Chalmers covered by the policy, Linnell has to pay extra. In addition, Gloria Bailey and Linda Davies, a lesbian couple, will have to pay taxes when they retire and sell their home and joint psychotherapy practice—taxes that a married couple would not have to pay.
Rebuttals of an Argument Against Same-Sex Marriage
One argument that is sometimes made against legalizing same-sex marriage is that legalizing same-sex marriage would require churches to marry same-sex couples. This is not true. In the United States, the First Amendment guarantees religious freedom: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” In the United States, church and state are separated. If Congress were to pass a law that legalized same-sex marriage, that law would apply only to civil marriages. Churches would still be able to marry whomever they wish, and they would still be able not to marry whomever they wish.
By the way, the late Monty Python member Graham Chapman once appeared on a TV talk show, in which he discussed his homosexuality. A viewer wrote in to the talk show, enclosing in her letter some prayers for Chapman’s soul, as well as the Biblical injunction that if a man lie with another, he shall be taken out and killed. Python member Eric Idle read the viewer’s letter, then wrote her in reply, “We’ve taken him out and killed him!”
I believe that same-sex marriage ought to be legal, and I hope that you agree that it ought to be legal, too. Of course, I am not advocating that churches ought to be forced to marry same-sex couples. I am simply saying that same-sex couples ought to be allowed by the government to have civil marriages. In doing so, same-sex married couples would have all the rights of opposite-sex married couples. In addition, they would be able to express their love and commitment to each other.
All of us should be as accepting of gays and lesbians as country music superstar Garth Brooks, whose sister is lesbian. Brooks made a pro-gay (and pro-freedom-of-religion) statement in his song “We Shall Be Free”: “When we’re free to love anyone we choose, / When this world’s big enough for all different views, / When we’re all free to worship from our own kind of pew, / Then we shall be free.”
Brooks also made a pro-love statement in that song, which celebrates love, whether it is between people of different races or people of the same sex. His sister helped educate Brooks, who is heterosexual, simply by being who she was. Brooks says, “The longer you live with it, the more you realize that it’s just another form of people loving each other.”
Copyrighted by Bruce D. Bruce
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