Gay Marriages

For as long as the institution of marriage has been around, so too has the belief that it

represents the union of one man and one woman. Now gay men and lesbians are challenging that

institution. They believe that their relationships mean the same in their sphere as heterosexual

marriages do in our sphere. Homosexuals would like to see their marriages legalized.

In 1991 three gay couples filed a lawsuit, in Hawaii, for denying them marriage licenses.

They claim that the refusal amounts to gender discrimination, which violates the Equal Rights

Amendment. Judge Kevin Chang ruled, in 1996, that same-sex couples have the right to legally

marry. This ruling makes Hawaii the first state to recognize that gay and lesbian couples are

entitled, by law, to the same privileges as heterosexual married couples (CNN). Under the Full

Faith and Credit clause of the Constitution, this also forces all states to recognize these marriages

as far as federal benefits are concerned. Congress has approved a bill, the Defense of Marriage

Act, that will allow states to decide whether to recognize homosexual marriages. The second part

of the bill would define "for federal purposes" as the union of a man and a woman. Under such a

definition gay and lesbians, even if they win the right to marry in Hawaii or elsewhere, would not

be able to file joint federal tax returns, claim federal pension, or survivor's benefits, or be allowed

to file for green card status (Gallagher 21).

I don't feel that marriages between gays or lesbians should be given the same status as

heterosexual marriages. Since when do gay people think they can broaden the institution of

marriage to include themselves? They shouldn't be able to. The institution of marriage is

recognized by the church, homosexuality isn't. I don't feel that gay people have given a reason

that carries enough weight for the government to legalize same-sex marriage.

Should gay people fight for the right to marry? Gay rights activists say absolutely. Gay

couples should be afforded the same benefits as heterosexual couples. The legal status of

marriage rewards the two individuals with substantial economic and practical advantages.

Married couples can file joint tax returns. Social security provides benefits for surviving spouses

and their dependents. They can inherit money and property from one another without a will.

They are immune from testifying against a spouse, and marriage to an American citizen gives a

foreigner the right to residency in the United States. Another advantage would be health

insurance provided by employers. These benefits usually include the employee and their spouse.

Employers generally will not include a partner who is not married to an employee, whether of the

same sex or not. Very few insurance companies will extend benefits to domestic partners' who

are not married (OUT/LOOK 234-235).

Gay marriages are highly emotional topics in the 90s. Many people feel that gay marriages

would show heterosexual people how much two people can love each other even if they are of the

same sex. Homosexual relationships are more than just sex with someone of the same gender.

Homosexual relationships include feelings and being able to share those feelings with the person

you love. "People have become used to the idea of defining gay people solely in terms of sexual

acts," says Gregory Herek, a research psychologist at the University of California, Davis.

I think many heterosexuals get very nervous when they have to think of gay

people in terms of relationships, because it challenges the way they have always

thought about gay people. I find it interesting that the same people who condemn

homosexuality as being a promiscuous lifestyle also say they're against gay

marriage because they wouldn't want to recognize stable gay relationships, says

Herek (Gallagher 24).

Rep. Barney Frank asks, "How can you argue that a man and woman in love are somehow

threatened because two women down the street are also in love?" Later, he put the question in

more personal terms. Frank said he respects the marriages of fellow committee members but

added, "I don't understand for a minute how I demean them by living with a man" (U.S. House).

Most people, when asked the question "What is your opinion of gay relationships?", their first

response encompasses sex, promiscuity and AIDS. When asked about heterosexual relationships

they generally answer with love, companionship, and families. If same-sex marriage is made legal,

the next generation won't think of it as taboo. It will just be another way of life. All of the

controversy has opened the door to discuss families, parenting, and equality for lesbians and gays.

They believe that they will