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Legalizing Gay Marriage Essay

1179 words - 5 pages

Legalizing Gay Marriage

The battle over Gay marriage in the United States reached a fever
pitch during the presidential election of 2004. The issue vaulted into
prominence when the Democratic mayor of San Francisco flouted state
law and performed marriage ceremonies for Gay couples. Conservatives
claim that the issue catapulted them into power by motivating
fundamentalist Christian voters to turnout in order to defeat
anti-gay-marriage amendments in eleven states, including the crucial
swing state Ohio. Liberals retort that fundamentalist Christian
turnout in 2004 was statistically even to 2000. Regardless of the
truth of that statement, what cannot be denied is the attention the
issue of Gay marriage has received over the past year. While I believe
that a national law allowing Gays to marry remains extremely distant
on the political horizon, I believe that what is likely is that states
will choose to give Gay couples the right to form civil unions. As Gay
couples begin to form these unions and enjoy the legal status that
they will provide them, the populace at large will become increasingly
accustomed to the idea. I believe that Civil Unions will eventually
lead to full-fledged Gay marriage, but that this process will take
some time.

Marriage became a preponderant issue in the presidential election this
year because it is at heart an extremely personal and emotional issue
for many Americans. For homosexuals, the institution of marriage is
viewed as a societal vindication of a couple’s status that is denied
to gays. The issue, gay marriage activists argue, is one of equality.
Homosexuals are denied the legal rights and privileges bestowed on
married couples, including the right to make health related decisions
in hospitals and to inherit an estate when a partner dies. Indeed, “In
the modern administrative state, civil marriage condenses within a
single document a vast array of legal, financial, and medical rights
and benefits” (Haslett). Proponents of Gay marriage argue that denying
these rights based solely on sexuality is akin to the segregation of
blacks in the South. Opponents of Gay marriage also acknowledge the
uniqueness and importance of marriage as an institution. It is
precisely for this reason that they oppose allowing homosexuals to
join in matrimony. Gay marriage would redefine the institution,
leading people to no longer believe that “the central purpose of
marriage is to bind men and women exclusively to each other and to the
children that their sexual behavior is apt to produce. It will
communicate instead that marriage was created to gratify grown-ups by
reinforcing their committed romantic relationships” (Jacoby). This
change in definition will erode the traditional roles held by men and
women in a marriage, according to opponents, and lead society down a
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