The denial of marriage rights to same sex partners is a direct violation of one's civil liberties. In the U. S. constitution, The Personal Freedoms Protection Amendment was created to protect the rights and choices of U. S. citizens.
The amendment states that, "Behavior expressed in the pursuit of happiness, which does not force others to participate against their will, is an unalienable right to the American people" (Kruger 67). Gay men and lesbian women seek relationships with partners in their own quest for happiness. Also, under the Constitution, "the U. S.
Supreme Court declares marriage a fundamental right" (National Organization for Women). Therefore, the constitution supports homosexuality in that it is one's "unalienable right" and "fundamental right" to pursue happiness and marry. Ironically, the U. S.
legal system denies recognition of same-sex marriages. The denial of legal marriage spells out a variety and depth of problems same-sex couples experience that many married couples take for granted. The problems include rights to insurance and employment benefits, children, hospital visitation, domestic violence, immigration, and social acceptance. By denying same-sex marriages, gay men and lesbian women are subjected to discrimination and the violation of their constitutional rights. Because of the problems homosexuals face, same-sex marriages should be legalized.
The first problem that same-sex partners face is insurance and employment benefits. Because a life time partner is not recognized as a legal spouse, many couples "Cannot take advantage of the automatic spousal coverage [certain companies] offer for life insurance" (Partners Task Force for Gay and Lesbian Couples). Many homosexual couples identify with this injustice across the United States. An accountant from Tennessee, Laura, posted a comment on the web illustrating her problem: "Even though we " ve been a couple for 13 years, I am not eligible for my other half's company insurance benefits or railroad retirement" (Partners Task Force). Similar to Laura, Rob from Arizona wrote: "My partner and I have live in a committed relationship going on ten years now.
Although my company offers excellent group health insurance, my partner who has epilepsy - a lifelong condition that requires regular medical care and expensive medications - cannot be added to my plan. With equal rights, we would not be faced with this problem" (Partners Task Force). In addition, a couple from New York wrote, "When Paula left her full-time job to work freelance and needed health insurance, she couldn't get onto my health care plan at the university where I worked because we are not legally married. This resulted in a cost to us of thousands of extra dollars a year!" (Partners Task Force). These couples present problems that homosexuals face daily. But in the United States, when these problems are addressed, high authority figures often and quickly suppress them.
In 1996, "Congress passed and President Clinton signed the 'Defense of Marriage Act' (DOMA) ." By defining marriage as "the legal union between on man and one woman," it prevents same-sex couples from receiving such health care and life insurance benefits (Issue Report: Same-Sex Marriage). The refusal of health and life insurance to life partners can have a catastrophic effect; Without it, health care alone, can cost couples thousands of dollars per year. A second problem which same-sex couples face deals with child adoption and custody rights. Many partners today, are denied adoption because states seemingly, "are more comfortable with a single parent than a same-sex couple raising a child (Partners Task Force).
Currently in Tennessee, the state is "trying to pass a bill prohibiting 'known homosexuals' from adopting or foster parenting" (Lambda Legal). For those couples who have gotten past the discrimination, they still struggle with the custody rights of their children. One parent recalls how he and his partner tragically, "lost full custody of our eight-year old son this summer based on the fact that we were not married; We were considered immoral" (Partners Task Force). When it comes to starting a family or raising a family, same-sex couples are subjected to an unjustifiable discrimination.
The National Organization for Women point out that, "Government's refusal to recognize same-sex marriage is discrimination masquerading as morality." The government uses the excuse that homosexuality is immoral to therefore deny couples the right to legal marriage and adoption. In reality, who is to say that a same sex couple with a 13-year history of stability is immoral and incapable of raising a child? In addition to the problems same-sex partners face when wanting to care for a child, they struggle just to have rights to care for each other. Because life partners are not of blood relation or legally married, when one goes into the hospital, the other is often times refused to right to visit. In Issue report: Same-Sex Marriage, Gary Lower was interviewed about his hospital experience: "I was with my partner, Danny, for five years when he was hospitalized for a seizure.
I had to beg for information from one of his doctors... even though I had papers (medical agent / power of attorney) that said I was the person responsible for his care. Danny died three months later and I barely had a say in his funeral arrangements and burial." Gary's experience is echoed by thousands of other gay couples. The National Organization for Women comment on how, "Rights that married people take for granted - such as the ability to make medical decisions for an incapacitated spouse - are denied to committed same-sex couples because their relationships are not recognized by the law" (Issue Report). The right to see a loved one if he or she is dieing is critical because those type of moments stay with a person forever.
If a homosexual's dieing wish is to have his lover by his side in the hospital, then that wish should be granted. Failing to do so is denying someone their freedom of choice and right to happiness. Another example of difficulties same-sex partners face is domestic violence. The NORTH article, "Major Scientific Study Examines Domestic Violence Among Gay Men," by Roy Waller, describes the results of The American Journal of Public Health survey of male homosexual relationships: "Thirty-nine percent of those surveyed said they'd been battered by a sex partner over the last five years. In contrast, only 7. 7% actually reported physical or sexual partner abuse during their entire lifetimes" (Traditional Values).
The reason many men don't report domestic violence is because they know they would be subjecting themselves to scrutiny. In many instances when phone calls were made to report a domestic violence, "The police arrived... and said that since it was a 'lover's quarrel' between men, they was nothing to be done unless someone was severely injured" (Partners Task Force). In Arizona, domestic violence laws are enforced only in cases where ."..
a marital or quasi-marital relationship exists. Not if it exists between two members of the same sex" (Partners Task Force). Since "Nearly three people out of four in the U. S. oppose gay marriage," homosexuals are inevitably confronted with discrimination, which at times can pose life threatening (Gay Marriage: The Arguments and the Motives).
If one's partner is beating him, discrimination from the law can prevent someone in true despair from getting help. Were marriage to be legalized, it would help eliminate the problems battered gays have with their partners. Laws would protect them as they protect battered partners in legally recognized relationships. Another problem homosexuals are confronted with is immigration. Gay couples who have one partner with a citizenship in a different country deal with the threat of losing their mate.
Because visas expire, immigrants at times, are forced to leave the U. S. If gays had the same rights as heterosexual couples, they could simply marry to gain citizen status. Current restrictions on marriage make it impossible for immigrants to obtain citizen status without marrying a heterosexual. One couple from California explain how since their three year commitment to each other is not legally recognized, "We are forced to spend many thousands of dollars on immigration lawyers just to stay together." Another gay couple reflects on their situation as well: "Since his visa is expired, our partnership has an uncertain future. We cannot live in Jamaica, because homosexuality is illegal there and may be punished by 10 years of imprisonment, and yet we cannot live here either...
legalizing marriage would be a GOD send!" (Partners Task Force). In the past, "prior to 1948, inter-racial couples were not allowed to marry" (Homosexual Marriages). The legalizing of mixed-race marriages parallel to gay marriages because in 1967, in a case that allowed mixed-race marriage, the Supreme Court ruled, "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." Therefore, if gay couples, pursuing a life together in the same country want to be married, it should be legal. To allow a mixed-race marriage, but not a same-sex marriage, is contradicting. The last, yet most potent problem same-sex partners' face with not being able to legalize marriage is social acceptance - "There's very little agreement about homosexuality in straight America" (ABC News).
Men, women and teens who are living openly gay lives wrestle with many questions themselves. The only agreement is that, "The presence of openly gay people has grown in the United States. In 1983, 24 percent of Americans said they had a gay friend or acquaintance, according to a Gallup poll. That percentage soared to 62 percent in 2000, according to a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation" (ABC News). As time passes, society and its views gradually evolve. Evident from the study, gays are becoming more comfortable with their own sexuality and the need to legalize marriage is only going to increase.
Society struggles to accept homosexuality not for reasons of immorality, but because there is a lack of understanding. Society holds to misconceptions about gays, ideas such that gays are promiscuous, or immoral, or perverted. And until homosexuality and same-sex marriage are addressed incessantly, those misconceptions won't be corrected. To conclude the idea of this paper is easy: same sex marriages should be legalized. But to conclude a solution is impossible because the controversy on homosexuality is on-going. I believe that one factor underlies the entire topic of homosexuality: the right to one's happiness.
A Statement of Affirmation and Reconciliation by the Quaker meeting in Aotearoa leaves a powerful mark when referring to same-sex marriages: "Each individual's journey through life is unique. Some will make this journey alone, others in loving relationships - maybe in marriage or other forms of commitment. We need to ponder our own choices and try to understand the choices of others. Love has many shapes and colors and is not finite. It can not be measure or defined in terms of sexual orientation" (Gay Marriage: The Arguments and the Motives)..