Gay and lesbians today In was late July of 1999, five of my buddies and I had just graduated from high school and we were enjoying one of the greatest summers of our lives in Ocean City, Maryland. We were renting out what we thought was the best bachelor pad in all of O. C. on 139 th street. Even friends of ours that we graduated with and had known for several years were living at the beach as well.

Life was good. But two girls in particular that all of our friends knew from Paint Branch H. S. would, throughout the remainder of the summer, indirectly change and redefine the way in which most of us thought about homosexual relationships. Mel and Kel had always been close amongst our circle of friends and naturally know one ever suspected that either of them were outfitted for a lesbian lifestyle, at least not both of them. It was during that unforgettable summer that their other lifestyle would become vividly clear to the rest of us.

The majority of us openly embraced their relationship and undoubtedly respected their audacity to endure the resentment and un acceptance that they may possibly confront one day. But, it was not until two years later that Mel and Kel would challenge their friends' opinions again, only this time concerning a much more controversial issue. Apparently over the course of the two-year relationship that Mel and Kel had spent together, a commitment had developed between them that only few of us could possibly fathom. They were convinced that the unconditional devotion they shared was worthy of a unique union, and that this devotedness they shared would endure for a lifetime. In a Utopian society most of us would rejoice in knowing that two people such as Mel and Kel who care so deeply for one another, have found each other and are willing to spend the rest of their lives together. Unfortunately we don't live in a society of that quality and admiration.

In any culture, it's generally conceived that the family is the absolute core of a society. In that, the norms and values of a civilization are directly conveyed from one generation to another through this bloodline. But what exactly is a family? Are there distinct specifications, qualifications or even guidelines that govern the framework for what a family should be? In the Webster's dictionary a "family" is clearly defined as: "the basic unit in society having as its nucleus two or more adults living together and cooperating in the care and rearing of their own or adopted children." Conservative politicians and cautious legislators on the other hand, would like you to believe that this practical definition should only apply to a man and a woman in matrimonial union. Yet all to often too many individuals become distracted by the circumstances surrounding a marriage, than actually recognizing the depth of the commitment that those two people are making. Considerations such as age, race, financial situation and gender of your spouse all play influential factors in shaping and illustrating our convictions of whether or not their marriage will succeed. Of course that certainly doesn't mean that these factors govern the success of a marriage, it simply means that as a society, people tend to focus on the aspects they believe will be most detrimental to a marriage.

But in this case it's not necessarily a question of whether or not the marriage will prosper. It's the inescapable reality that a marriage of a homosexual nature, in the eyes of an oftentimes-conservative society, goes against every descent and respectable value that we hold true. It's a question of whether we as a society have the moral strength and composure to acknowledge and accept the fact that individuals like Mel and Kel should have the right to choose the future of their own destiny. Gay and lesbian couples like Mel and Kel everywhere should have the right to choose with whom they will join in wedlock without discrimination from any legal foundation.

Many people truly don't see the depth and severity of the problems facing gay and lesbian couples seeking to spend the rest of their lives together. It's much more than desperately trying to get a marriage license. There's a whole spectrum of privileges and rewards that comes with legal declaration of marriage. For decades, gay and lesbian couples have been seeking the right to marry because their relationships, even under domestic partnership laws, are not given the same recognition or benefits as heterosexual married couples, despite their responsibilities and commitment. Kimberly M. Ward, Vice President of the National Organization for Woman says, ."..

the law isn't suppose to discriminate against age, race, gender, disability, or sexual orientation but that simply isn't the case here. If this isn't a clear-cut case of discrimination against a rather large and influential group of people, I don't know what is." For example, when it comes time to file our tax statements for the IRS, having your spouse as a dependant can be quite a substantial deduction on your return. When gay and lesbian couples file their returns, they are not "recognized" by the IRS as having a legal marriage. Therefore, they " re subject to the same tax laws as any other single individuals in this country, despite the fact that they are living with; and are just as committed and dedicated to their partner as any other heterosexual marriage. Discrimination in such areas as health coverage, life insurance, or even inheritance benefits can become tremendous obstacles to overcome for gay and lesbian couples who are serious about devoting themselves to each other. Even something as customary as seeing your partner in the hospital, following an unexpected accident can become an impossibility, simply because most hospital policy restricts visitation to family only in certain circumstances.

Presently, the debate over same-sex marriages in this country has raised several moral issues regarding family values. Perhaps the most controversial of all these is the aspect of children. When debating on this delicate issue, children play a virtually unavoidable consideration in this argument. If gay and lesbian couples are given the right to marry, then how will that affect the future of our children? Obviously there is no means for procreation in a homosexual relationship, however that doesn't exclude the possibility of adoption. Currently Florida and New Hampshire are the only states in the U. S.

that have flat out banned adoption to potential homosexual parents. New Jersey on the other hand is the only state that has made breakthrough progress in opening the doors to adoption under these circumstances. The majority of other states have no official position on the issue. But despite what your position is on the issue of adoption by gay and lesbian parents, it's perfectly understandable to have a certain measure of skepticism.

Perhaps as the law making assembly of our society, legislators are apprehensive to the fact that these adopted children will be running the country in some way, shape, or form one day. Of course they wouldn't come close to the majority, but possibly to a respectable percentage. Nevertheless, what could we expect in the future from a society that is crafted from a background of open-minded individuals toward the emerging issues of sexual orientation? Primarily, most of the criticism that comes with same-sex marriages is from a religious standpoint. When most of us think of marriage, instinctively we think of a man and a woman. In our society it's out of the ordinary to think anything else.

But most of this criticism is reinforced with speculative support. For example, in a newsletter sent out by Jerry Falwell he proclaimed that "if the courts rule in favor of same-sex marriages, it will open a Pandora's Box of perversion... that will inevitably lead to increased child pornography, polygamy, homosexual lifestyle programs in schools, and homosexual couples in the military." A statement of this absurdity quite literally speaks for itself. But it's highly influential people like Rev. Jerry Falwell who strike these unnecessary and ludicrous speculations into people's mentality and by doing so raise a certain model of fear into his followers. Ever since the early 1970's, gay and lesbian couples have been aggressively seeking their right to marry whom they choose and 25 years later there has been little progress.

If homosexual couples and the gay and lesbian communities at large are to make any advance toward this issue, a certain level of legitimacy must be established. There's always room for compromise, it's just a matter of someone willing to come half way. As my life- long friend Mel once said to me, "the fear towards homosexuals comes from a fear of what you don't know or are unfamiliar with, not from gays and lesbians but from themselves." Works Cited web.