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Paul Peregord - Project Four

Page history last edited by Paul Peregord 10 years ago

Paul Peregord

Conor Shaw-Draves

November 23, 2010

If It Makes You Happy

Same-sex marriage has been a distant hope for gays and lesbians for centuries. Unfortunately, many are against same-sex marriage. The word “marriage” derives from ancient Rome during the fourth century (Warren). Throughout history, women have been denied the choice of who they were being married to. The Romans recognized that forcing a woman to marry leads to unhappy relationships and that the decision to marry should be consensual (Warren). Romans made it very clear that “It is not sex but consent and marital affection that make a marriage” (Warren). Though the idea of consensual marriage did not start in Rome, some of the very first gay marriages did occur there until 342 AD when Christianity started to gain power in Rome (Warren). So why is it that today so many are still fighting over same-sex marriage? In May of last year, a surprising forty percent of Americans were in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage (Jones). Though some people believe holy matrimony should only exist between a man and a woman, there are not any drawbacks to same-sex marriage. It might go against a religious person’s ethics, and it might be aesthetically unpleasing for them to see two men or two women together, but healthy, loving relationships are practical for everybody.

It is important to understand that this Roman law made it possible to have a wedding outside of a church and without the presence of a priest (Warren). This allowed two people to be wed after they have held hands and given consent before witnesses (Warren). In fact, marriage was not even considered a legal entity until the Middle Ages (Warren). Then, during the thirteenth century, the Pope decreed marriage as one of the seven sacraments, making it so that marriage could only be arranged by a priest (Warren). Yet there are church documents of same-sex unions in Italy, Spain, and other countries in Europe during this time (Warren). These ceremonies sometimes even mentioned mutual property agreements (Warren). Religion and State came together in England in the fifteenth century giving the church civil authority (Warren). The Christians abused this authority by killing innocent people simply because they did not believe in their faith. This violence was also directed towards homosexuals and many are still against same-sex marriage because of their religious beliefs. The Romans were extremely practical when outlining the step by step process of getting married. The separation of personal beliefs and property was a large one, by allowing whom ever to marry the person or persons they wanted, any disgust towards homosexuals was that of an individual’s. A person’s ethics was of no concern to anybody but that person.

Christian anti-gay attitudes have hindered homosexuals throughout history. Even though there is a large number of homosexuals that either believe in God or practice Christianity, Christians have always argued that being gay is wrong in the eyes of God and that homosexuality is sinful. Sin is defined as any reprehensible or regrettable action or offense. The love any two human beings, gender put aside, should never be considered an offense or reprehensible action. Nevertheless, it is well known that the Catholic Church has been spending millions to prevent same-sex marriage from being legalized. The way that they portray homosexuality and the negative results that would follow the legalization of same-sex marriage, is simply preposterous. There are many Christian political leaders who voice their opinions against same-sex marriage and are either unaware or unsympathetic about how upsetting their words can be. Dr. James Dobson, the founder of a conservative organization called Focus on the Family, was very offensive in his statement after the Massachusetts court ruled that same-sex couples should have the same rights as heterosexual couples.

“Saying there’s a constitutional guarantee for two homosexuals to marry is just a few steps away from saying there’s a constitutional guarantee to marry more than one person, or for relatives to marry, or even for people to marry their pets. What makes this a truly dark day is that gay marriage is only the beginning. The homosexual activist movement is now closer than it ever has been to administrating a devastating and potentially fatal blow to the traditional family.” (Danforth 106)

 Dobson’s words fell down a slippery slope when he theorized that same-sex marriage will lead to incest and bestiality. Though everyone is entitled to the first amendment, which includes the freedom of speech, Senator John Danforth, author of Faith and Politics, is aware of how hurtful responses like these can be. When asked whether he favored amending the law that prohibits employee discrimination based on race, religion and gender to also include sexual orientation, he stated that he was against it (Danforth 101). After getting a better perspective on homosexuality, he says that today, he would answer differently (Danforth 102). John Danforth now believes that homosexuality is not simply a preference, or a lifestyle choice, he now understands that homosexuality is a matter of sexual orientation (Danforth 102). John is a former Republican Senator of Missouri and an Episcopal priest, and even he understands that same-sex marriage would not negatively affect America in any way. Seeing two people of the same sex together was aesthetically unpleasing for James Dobson. In retaliation of having to see such a “fatal blow to the traditional family” Dobson forgot that marrying your cat or dog isn’t healthy, but a healthy relationship between two people is a healthy relationship, regardless of sexual orientation.

Some people are concerned about gay married couples starting families. This should not be an important factor when deciding whether gays should be allowed to marry, due to the fact that marriage is not necessary to procreate. The fact of the matter is that a marriage license is not needed in order to give birth. Also, gays and lesbians are not required to have a marriage license in order to have a child using artificial insemination or adoption. An intriguing fact is that gay marriage and strong families actually are statistically compatible (Booth). In order for a successful federal law to be passed, the decision on whether homosexuals should be allowed to get married should be considered without the argument about gays raising families.

I personally do not think there is anything “wrong” with being gay. Whether you believe it is a personal choice or a genetic factor, the fact is people are becoming more acceptive of homosexuality. Also, more people now understand that being gay does not make you a bad person. In fact, there are studies that prove that gay and lesbian couples usually tend to be in happy relationships and love each other in the same way heterosexual couples do (Alderson). In 2008, Massachusetts had one of the countries lowest divorce rates, 2.2 per thousand citizens (Booth). The average national divorce rate is 3.6 per thousand citizens (Booth) Even more interesting than that, other states that have legalized same-sex marriage have similar low divorce rates (Booth). Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and Iowa all have divorce rates under the average of 3.6 per thousand citizens (Booth). The states with the highest divorce rates were the states that have banned gay marriage (Booth). The explanation behind these statistics is that the people living in the states that allow gay marriage are better educated than states that are against gay marriage (Booth). The Education State Rankings of 2008 stated that Massachusetts, Vermont, New Jersey and Connecticut are the four smartest states in America (Booth). All of these states either allow gay marriage or recognize marriage rights for gays and lesbians (Booth).  Christian leaders put a lot of time and money into making homosexual marriages sound threatening to society. In reality, there aren’t any negative effects caused by same-sex marriage. In 2003, over ten percent of Americans thought that legalization of gay marriage would change society for the better (Jones).

            Society has changed ever since May 17th, 2004 when the first same-sex marriage took place in Massachusetts (Chatlani). Later that same day, President Bush again asked for a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as being between a man and a woman (Chatlani). This amendment was never passed. On the other hand, the groundbreaking case of Goodrich V. Department of Public Health led to the legalization of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts (Chatlani). This case fueled the sparks that have ignited the entire gay rights movement. In the case of Littleton V. Prange, a marriage was terminated in Texas because the marriage included two men (Warren). One of the partners received a sex change and the court ruled that gender is something you are born with, and that you cannot change that (Warren). It is well known that there are people born with both sexes, also known as transgendered. How they fit into the religious idea of “one man and one woman” is still troubling court systems (Warren). During the past decade gays and lesbians have gained a lot of positive legal attention, it is only a matter of time when transgendered people start to gain some of the rights that homosexuals are starting to see.

According to the fourteenth amendment, Americans are given substantive due process rights which includes parental and marriage rights. The Equal Protection Clause requires all states to give equal treatment of the law. This should give homosexuals the legal right to get married. Yet there are countless cases of individuals suffering because they are not treated the same as heterosexual couples. In February of 1980 Christopher Street had discovered that his lover for the past twelve years had died from a heart attack (Stewart-Winter). Since they were not legally married, he lost all of his lover’s possessions, inheritance, and the apartment that they were living in (Stewart-Winter). Denying same-sex marriage to homosexuals is discriminatory and affects gays and lesbians negatively. During the famous case of Goodrich V. Department of Health, Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled that "barring an individual from the protections, benefits, and obligations of civil marriage solely because that person would marry a person of the same sex violates the Massachusetts Constitution" (Chatlani). Even after a claim as bold as that, same-sex marriage legality continues to be different from state to state.

Denying homosexuals the right to show their love in front of their families and friends in ceremony is wrong and unconstitutional. Homosexuals first had the right to get married over 1500 years ago, but today only a handful of states will allow these ceremonies. While Barak Obama does not personally support gay marriage, he believes that the decision should be left up to the states (Jones). As more and more become aware of this mistreatment of homosexuals, the more power they gain towards a federal law allowing same-sex marriage. It will be a wonderful day when the judgment that has been placed upon homosexuals is lifted and they are free to marry whomever they please. The Romans had ethics that allowed people to be happy. Thinking love is aesthetically unpleasing is blasphemy. Being able to share your love with the person you want to, is practical for a long lasting and meaningful relationship.

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