Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage
All couples in a committed loving relationship should be legally allowed to marry. United States marriage concepts have been changing in conjunction with society’s evolving culture. Traditional concepts assigning marital duties based on gender no longer apply, strengthening the effectiveness of the marriage in today’s world. Society is actively moving towards becoming a culture of contributing individuals who have equal rights regardless of ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or religion. Legalizing same-sex marriage is an important part in our movement towards improving the health and stability of our society.
Original concepts of marriage originating from English common law included the requirement for the husband to pay for the home and all necessities, and required the wife to maintain the home, take care of the children, and to have sex with the husband (Cornell Law University, 2013). In today’s society, it is the couple who determines responsibility for the finances, asset maintenance, and child care; and sex is consensual. The concept we are struggling to move past, is the requirement that the marriage contract be between a man and a woman.
Prior to 1996, the United States Code did not include a definition of marriage. The 1996 passage of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) officially added a definition of marriage to our United States Code which included verbiage federally restricting marriage to one man and one woman. Title 1 of the United States Code section 1 provides that “unless the context indicates otherwise-words importing the masculine gender include the feminine as well” (1. U. S. C. § 1). To ensure clarity addressing context, DOMA added the words opposite sex when defining the word spouse (Defense of Marriage Act, 1996). According to Schultz as cited by Dinno and Whitney, DOMA was prompted after Hawaii’s Supreme Court ruling in 1993 which found the restrictions of the marriage status and benefits to only opposite sex couples as discriminatory on the basis of sex (p.1.). With this ruling, other states were in fear of having to recognize same-sex marriages. DOMA’s verbiage provided shelter for states where same-sex marriage is illegal from recognizing same-sex marriages granted in states where legal.
Subsequent to the 1996 passage of DOMA, many states added defense of marriage language to their constitutions and/or statutes legally restricting marriage to one man and one woman. Other states moved towards legalizing same-sex marriage or civil unions through legislation or court decision. In June 2013, the United States Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional the section of DOMA restricting marriage to one man and one woman (U.S. vs. Windsor, 2013). As of December 19, 2013, as reported by the National Conference of State Legislatures, 17 states along with the District of Columbia allow same-sex marriage (2013, n.p.). The legal debate continues in the remaining 33 states. This writer...