George Orwell once said, “We have to sink to a depth at which restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men.” This quote can be applied to the current debate over the definition of marriage. On one side are those that seek to redefine marriage, those in favor of same-sex marriage, and those that believe in traditional marriage, one man and one woman. For those that seek same-sex marriage, it is any group of people who love each other. Proponents argue that legal marriage between gay partners would legitimize homosexuality as a socially acceptable lifestyle and grant partners legal advantages given to heterosexual spouses (Gray and Hanson 402). “Opponents maintain that legalizing gay marriages would only strengthen the gay civil rights agenda, which is immoral and dangerous” (Lewis and Edelson 2000, 200). Furthermore, opponents of same-sex marriage state that legalizing gay marriages is an insult to the sanctity of traditional marriage.
In a policy such as same-sex marriage, which is driven by salience and a lack of complexity, the public has a strong influence over governmental decisions. When the public does not support gay marriage, the politicians of those states follow suit. The impact of public support on same-sex marriage reaches the federal level as well, with the introduction of the Defense of Marriage Act, 1996. This bars federal recognition of same-sex marriages and allows states to do the same. Since 1996, many states have enacted legislation prohibiting same-sex marriages and or the recognition of same-sex marriages formed in other states. Traditionally, states have recognized marriages observed in other states, even those that go against the marriage laws of that particular state. “Thirty seven states currently have statutory Defensive Marriage Acts. Thirty states have defined marriage in their constitutions” (NCSL.org). Nine states, as well as the District of Columbia, have no laws prohibiting same-sex marriage.
There have been several attempts to amend the federal Constitution, defining marriage as between one man and one woman and ensuring that states would not be required to recognize same-sex marriages form other states. Opponents of this amendment site Federalism concerns as support for same-sex marriages. They say that gay marriages should be resolved on a state-by-state basis, where issues of family and marriage laws have always been decided. Federalism accommodates the vastly different public policies each state has. By leaving same-sex marriages to the states, more citizens would be able to act on their own preferences.
In order to focus in on the same-sex marriage policy, I have chosen a four state strategy approach in analyzing this current policy problem. The states that I will use are New York, Texas, Iowa and Mississippi. States were chosen based on their populations and the political culture within that state; which, are the forces believed to explain the differences in the policies that states...