In 1996 US President Bill Clinton adopted a law DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act) – it said that same-sex marriage that was performed in one state did not have to be recognized in any other state. In addition, the law also defined marriage as “only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word ‘spouse’ refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or wife” (Same-Sex Marriage. Opposing Viewpoints). Barack Obama became the first President who has announced his support for LGBT activists and promised to legalize same-sex marriage and provide homosexual couples with the same rights and benefits that the straight couples have. By October 21, 2014, 32 states of the USA have licensed same-sex marriage by federal courts decisions. In the same time, on November 6, 2014 the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld bans on homosexual marriage in four states (Ohio, Tennessee, Michigan and Kentucky) that has caused a wave of discussion about giving the case to the Supreme Court.
Over the past 13 years seventeen countries all over the world have licensed same-sex marriages, nine of them are in Europe. The Netherlands were the first who legalized gay marriage; it happened in 2001; the 17th country that legalized same-sex marriage became Luxembourg; it passed the corresponding law in June 2014 and it will come into force in January 2015. One of the most significant debate over the legalization of same-sex marriages occurred in Canada. After long disputes and litigation, Canadian gay couples finally received the right to get married in 2005. Unlike Canada, where the law was hard for the Parliament to pass, Spanish gay and lesbian couples were mostly criticized by Vatican and the representatives of the Catholic Church. Although 80% of population of Spain confesses Catholicism, the church did not get enough support to prohibit the law. It proves the fact of progressive development of freethinking in such a religious country. In general, in all countries that permitted same-sex marriage the amount of registered marriages between people with homosexual orientation is growing every year. The main advantage of legalizing gay marriages in the world is that nowadays people start to get rid of stereotypes, cliché and stigma, they become open-minded and freethinking that, in turns, affects the progressive development of the countries.
Speaking about the situation with same-sex marriages in the USA, it should be mentioned that only 32 states see such union as a social norm. Now, in order to achieve a full acceptance of gay marriages, it is necessary for all states to legalize it. Joel Defner in his book “Lawfully Wedded Husband: How My Gay Marriage Will Save the American Family” when telling a story of his own marriage with Mike, states: “I didn’t want to get gay married. I wanted to get married” (Derfner 22). This phrase emphasizes the thought of people’s cliché about nontraditional union: it is something different, abnormal and unfamiliar; the society separates the concept of opposite-sex marriage and same-sex marriage, which does not allow considering gay union as something normal. The only one aim of all rallies in support of gay marriages (besides the possibility to legitimize love between same-sex partners) is to prove the society that such unions are the same as traditional ones: “They [gays and lesbian people] desire to make a public and formal statement and recognition of their commitment by participating in the institution that they consider the gold standard for committed relationships” (Gill 29). Thereby, the legalization of same-sex marriage is a significant step towards the social acceptance of gay relationships – the society should accustom itself to this kind of marriage and it should not see the same-sex marriage as something unnatural. By legalizing it, the government of the country will establish same-sex marriage as a social norm, which will help Americans to think progressively, without stereotypes.
Another essential reason for legalizing the same-sex marriages lies in the necessity of getting rid of discrimination. In order to build free democratic society, the government of the country has to deny any demonstration of human rights abuses. It is enough to point out the race discrimination that is an important part of the US history. Two hundred years ago the Americans abolished the slavery, but it took several decades before blacks were fully accepted by people as an equal unit of society and only in the middle of 20th century the race discrimination was prohibited by law. Now the humiliation and rejection of African Americans in the past as well as the discrimination based on sexual orientation must be left in the past. “In 1942 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that marriage is “one of the basic civil rights” “The freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men” (Same-Sex Marriage. Opposing Viewpoints). That is why the legalization of same-sex marriage would make the gay couples be treated the same as straight couples – they would not be recognized as people who enter forbidden relationships.
If Mike dies, I don’t get his Social Security benefits If one of us becomes aged, blind, or disabled, the other can’t get Supplemental Security Income assistance to take care of him If we lose everything to banking collapse, we’ll be ineligible for federal support for low-income family housing Mike won’t get any additional disability compensation if I’m disabled, won’t get my pension if I die, won’t get government medical care. (Defner 17)
That is why it is so important to make same-sex marriage legal all over the country – as soon as gay spouses have equal rights and benefits with the straight families, the well-being of all families will be gained and married people will be able to create a prosperous family as well as raise healthy children.
On the other hand, there are also a lot of people who do not recognize same-sex marriage as legal union between two lovers. One of the strongest opposition belongs to the church - faithful people believe that same-sex marriage would interfere with religious freedoms and the sanctity of family values. Peter Sprigg in his article “The Top Ten Harms of Same-Sex ‘Marriage’” states: “when homosexual “marriage” becomes legal, then laws which once applied to homosexuals only as individuals then apply to homosexual couples as well” (e.g. when church refuses to place children for adoption with homosexual couples, the state forbids it to do adoptions at all) (Sprigg 2). In the same time, Tricia Andryszewski writes: “They [religious people] believe that God created gay people and loves them as they are That kind of life – in a committed, one-partner relationship – avoids the sin of sex outside the marriage” (Andryszewski 24). Moreover, the family with homosexual parents raises its child in health and loving environment; sometimes such parents take care of their child even better than straight couples do since their decision to have a baby is well-thought.
The most common way for the homosexual families to have a child is adoption. And it was proved that same-sex parents is more likely to adopt children at the age of six and more (unlike straight couples, who prefer infants); moreover, they take children regardless of his race or some health problems (unlike opposite-sex parents, who are more likely to adopt white baby without any disabilities). That is why the legalization of same-sex marriages is a good decision for the nation – it will decrease the number of children who are free for the adoption. And as soon as most of the children from the orphanage find their families, the well-being of the whole nation will be gained.
One more feature of the prosperous country is a low suicide rate. Unfortunately, the level of youth suicide in the USA is quite high and one of the most common causes of teenagers’ deaths from suicide is bullying at schools. “All the studies agreed that children of same-sex marriage parents tend to face more teasing and bullying” (Gill 71). And if children are so violent towards the peer with homosexual parents, it is obvious that they would be even crueler towards the peer who is himself of homosexual orientation. Thereby, when same-sex marriage becomes legal across the country, teenagers will not recognize homosexuality as psychological deviation or disorder. Thus, the rate of youth suicide will be diminished.
In the same time, as long as homosexual marriage is considered as the form of deviance, it cannot be supported by all Americans. For instance, Peter Sprigg claims that “if same-sex “marriage” is not stopped now, we will have same debate about “plural” marriages only one generation from now” (Sprigg 8), trying to prove that legalizing homosexual marriages would cause polygamy in the future. That is what Emily Gill states about this issue: “Unlike legalizing same-sex marriage, legalizing polygamy potentially affects every traditional couple’s marriage, because marriage persons would be able to marry other partners while remaining married to their original spouses” (Gill 139). And it is impossible for all straight and same-sex couples to want the polygamy – these couples are too devoted to each other. Moreover, it will be impossible to legalize the polygamy on the legislative level since marriage is the union between only two people.
The process of legalizing same-sex marriage is coming a long way and even nowadays it faces a great amount of people’s discontent and opposition, though the number of activists of homosexual rights increases every year. Society starts to understand that same-sex marriage should be legal not only in several states, but on the national level since it will eliminate a lot of problems. Needless to say that same-sex partners want to be able to marry because of their love to each other – undoubtedly, it is their civil right. But numerous advantages of the legal same-sex marriages in the context of the progressive development of the nation should be taken into account as well. These advantages include broadening the people’s minds, getting rid of stereotypes and cliché in order to prove the society that homosexual marriage is as good as opposite-sex one; they also include providing same-sex unions with a number of benefits and protections; moreover, licensed same-sex marriage will destroy discrimination based on sexual orientation that, in turns, will lead to decreasing of the youth suicide as well as to increasing the number of adoptions. Although there are several opposite views on the same-sex marriage (e.g. interference with religious freedoms or further promoting of polygamy), they all become weaker and more unreasonable over the years.
Andryszewski, Tricia. Same-Sex Marriage: Granting Equal Rights or Damaging the Status of Marriage? USA Today's Debate: Voices and Perspectives. Minneapolis, MN: Twenty-First Century Books, 2012. Print.
Brewer, Paul R., and Clyde Wilcox. Same-Sex Marriage and Civil Unions. Public Opinion Quarterly 69.4 (2005): 599-616. Print.
Derfner, Joel. Lawfully Wedded Husband: How My Gay Marriage Will Save the American Family. Living Out: Gay and Lesbian Autobiographies. Madison, Wisconsin: The University of Wisconsin Press, 2013. Print.
Gill, Emily R. An Argument for Same-Sex Marriage: Religious Freedom, Sexual Freedom, and Public Expressions of Civic Equality. Georgetown University Press, 2012. Print.
Kellard, James. Do We Have a Constitutional Right to Ban Gay Marriage?. 2011. Print.
Kimport, Katrina. Queering Marriage? : Challenging Family Formation in the United States. Families in Focus. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 2014. Print.
Moscowitz, Leigh. The Battle over Marriage: Gay Rights Activism through the Media. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2013. Print.
Olson, Laura R., Wendy Cadge, and James T. Harrison. Religion and Public Opinion About Same-Sex Marriage*. Social Science Quarterly 87.2 (2006): 340-60. Print.
Same-Sex Marriage. Opposing Viewpoints Online Collection. Detroit: Gale, 2014. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 9 Nov. 2014.
Sprigg, Peter. The Top Ten Harms of Same-Sex Marriage. Family Research Council, 2011. Print.