Social Issues / Debate - Same Sex Marriage - Con
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Autor: anton 23 October 2010
Words: 1333 | Pages: 6
There are two complaints here. First, homosexuals don't have the same legal liberties heterosexuals have. Second, homosexual couples don't have the same legal benefits as married couples.
The first charge is simply false. Any homosexual can marry in any state of the Union and receive every one of the privileges and benefits of state sanctioned marriage. He just cannot marry someone of the same sex. These are rights and restrictions all citizens share equally. I realize that for homosexuals this is an intensely unsatisfying response but, regardless, it is a legitimate one. Allow me to illustrate my point. Bob and Steve both qualify to vote in America where they are citizens. Neither is allowed to vote in Germany. Bob, however, has no interest in U.S. politics; heâ€™s partial to European concerns. Would Bob have a case if he complained, "Steve gets to vote [in California], but I donâ€™t get to vote [in Germany]. Thatâ€™s unequal protection under the law. He has a right I donâ€™t have." However, the truth is that they both have the same rights and the same restrictions. There is no legal inequality, only an inequality of desire, but that is not the stateâ€™s concern. The marriage licensing law applies to each citizen in the same way; everyone is treated exactly alike. Homosexuals want the right to do something no one, straight or gay, has the right to do: marry someone of the same sex. Denying them that right is not a violation of the equal protection clause. It is simply an irritation.
The second complaint is more significant. Itâ€™s true that homosexual couples do not have the same legal benefits as married heterosexuals regarding taxation, family leave, health care, hospital visitation, inheritance, etc. However, no other non-marital relationships between individuals - non-gay brothers, a pair of spinsters, college roommates, best friends â€“ who share those benefits, either. Should they be held under special consideration? However, if homosexual couples face "unequal protection" in this area, so does every other pair of unmarried citizens who have deep, loving commitments to each other. Should gays get preferential treatment just because they are sexually involved? The government gives special benefits to marriages and not to others for good reason. Itâ€™s not because they involve long-term, loving, committed relationships. Many others qualify there. Itâ€™s because they involve children. Inheritance rights flow naturally to children. Tax relief for families eases the financial burden children make on paychecks. Insurance policies reflect the unique relationship between a working partner and his or her dependents (if Mom/Dad stays home to care for kids, she and they are still covered). These circumstances, inherent to families, simply are not intrinsic to other relationships, as a rule, including homosexual ones. There is no obligation for government to give every human coupling the same entitlements simply to "stabilize" the relationship. The unique benefits of marriage fit its unique purpose. Marriage is not meant to be a shortcut to group insurance rates or tax relief. Itâ€™s meant to build families.
Some say we shouldnâ€™t deny the freedom to love whom one wants to. In Massachusetts, an excited newly "married" lesbian celebrates, "Now weâ€™re not second-class citizens; now we can have a loving relationship like every other married couple we know." Her partner adds, "Anybody who is in love and wants to spend the rest of their life together should be able to do it." These remarks reflect a common misconception held by many people: Same-sex marriage will secure new liberties for homosexuals that have escaped them thus far. This will not happen because no personal liberty is being denied them. Gay couples can already do everything married people do - express love, set up housekeeping, share home ownership, have sex, raise children, buy property, receive inheritance, and spend the rest of their lives together. Itâ€™s not against any law to do any of these things. Homosexuals can even have a real wedding. It's actually done all the time. Entire industries have sprung up from San Francisco to New York City serving the needs of same-sex lovers looking to tie the knot.
Gay marriage grants no new freedom, and denying marriage licenses to homosexuals does not restrict any liberty. Nothing stops anyone of any age, race, gender, class, or sexual preference from making lifelong loving commitments to each other, pledging to stay true until death do them part. They may lack certain entitlements, but not freedoms. Denying marriage doesn't restrict anyone. It merely withholds social approval from a lifestyle and set of behaviors that homosexuals have complete freedom to pursue without it. A marriage license doesnâ€™t give liberty; it gives respect. And respect is precisely what homosexual activists long for, as one newly licensed lesbian spouse makes clear: "It was a moving experience after a truly lifelong commitment, to have a government entity say, â€˜Your relationship is valid and important in the eyes of the law.â€™" Another admits, "This is about other people recognizing what we have already recognized with each other for a long time. I didnâ€™t start out feeling this way, but that piece of paper, itâ€™s just so important I canâ€™t even put it into words. Itâ€™s so important to have society support youâ€¦itâ€™s about society saying youâ€™re recognized as a couple."
The controversy about same-sex marriage churns principally around the definition of marriage. Activists deny the traditional view that marriage is about children. Instead, marriage is an ever-changing, socially constructed institution constantly trying to be defined not only by the government and the church but by society as well. There is no essential connection with children. Rather, at the core of the enterprise are two people in love. Initially, this seems hard to deny. In our culture, love is often the immediate motivation for marriage. On reflection, though, itâ€™s clear that love and marriage donâ€™t always go together. In fact, they seldom do. If marriage were about love, then millions of people in the history of the world who thought they were married were not. Many marriages have been arranged. Love may develop later, but only as a result of marriage, not the reason for it. Further, if love were the â€œbe all end allâ€ of marriage, no "for better or for worse" promises would be needed at the altar. Vows arenâ€™t meant to sustain love; they are meant to sustain the union when love diminishes. A pledge keeps a family intact not for love, but for the sake of children. The state doesnâ€™t care if the bride and groom love each other. There are no questions about a coupleâ€™s affections when granting a license. No proof of passion is required. Why? Because marriage isnâ€™t only about love. Yes, love may be the reason some people get married, but it isnâ€™t THE reason for marriage.
The definition of marriage has not been in flux in the way people suggest it has. In fact, marriage itself has not been redefined at all. Because there have been variations on the theme does not mean there has been no theme. From the beginning of civilization marriage has always been between men and women. There have been some changes. Historically some have been denied marriage (e.g., the young, the genetically abnormal and interracial couples). Others were allowed to marry more than once, either consecutively (divorce and remarriage), or concurrently (polygamy). Spousal rights have altered and traditions have evolved. But marriage has still been marriage. And spouses have always been male and female. To say something has changed is to say some core thing has remained the same. When an old shirt is turned into a rag, or a woman dyes her hair, something stays the same, the cloth and the woman, in these two cases. In the midst of these obvious changes in marriage, what feature remains the same? What is the essential core that makes marriage distinct from any other relationship? In spite of the variations, spouses have always been male and female. And this is the way it will remain for at least the foreseeable future.
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