On December 7, 2012, the Supreme Court came into the arena of gay rights when it agreed to review two cases regarding this issue. The first case focused on the the Defense of Marriage Act, otherwise known as DOMA. This federal law prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages as an institution. The second case focused on Proposition 8, a ballot initiative approved by the voters of California that called for the state constitution to be amended to include a clause about banning gay marriage. The case focused on the appeal of this ban.
The fight toward gay’s rights has been a long winded journey filled with progress and disappointments. The idea of gay marriage being a valid institution of marriage has been met with conflict in the courthouse for over 20 years, and in the minds of Americans far before that. The issue of gay marriage has occurred all over the country is state courts, including Hawaii, California, Maryland, and New Jersey but so far, one of the most significant cases occurred in the state court of Massachusetts. In this case, the judge ruled that the constitution for the state of Massachusetts gave gays and lesbians the right to marry.
While these states were able to settle their cases, the DOMA case and Proposition 8 case were taken to the federal courts where the country was brought in to decide upon this imperative issue. The purpose of having these cases over the issue of gay marriage is to settle the age-old question of: Is the Constitution accepting of gay marriage and will it be recognized to the same degree as a different sex marriage? While the first case in this article, DOMA, involved the dispute over the discrimination against of a minority, the gay and lesbian minority, the second case focuses on Proposition 8, which involves a state decision to prevent gay and lesbian couples from having to the right to marry in California. Out of the two cases, Proposition 8 may bring about more attention towards the issue of whether or not the Constitution will be amended or interpreted in a way that would allow for the legality of same sex marriage.
After trying both cases, the DOMA case has been moved for a review in March 2013 and will be decided by June 2013. One of the reasons that this review is needed is because, unlike Proposition 8, which particularly deals with California itself, DOMA deals with the entire country and therefore a proper protocol must be established so all of the states must practice this law the same way. Regardless, there have been several strides made in the area of gay rights. States like New York, Connecticut, and Vermont would not allow gay couples living together to be recognized as a married couple under the federal law. The progress with gay rights has been a dramatic one considering the fact that there was once a time where gays were not even allowed to come out of the closet without fear of being ridiculed by their peers. We should embrace this change for the chance of a more enlightened future.
We’ve all heard the classic argument between the pros and cons of a heterosexual marriage vs. a homosexual one. From the church, we hear the classic argument based on the morality and “religiousness” of it all and how in the Bible, homosexuality is condemned and that from the very beginning, God created Adam and Eve so that MAN can be with a WOMAN. There are no other exceptions. From the conservatives, we hear the argument that marriage is solely between a man and a woman, and that a union between two males and two females is not recognized as a “legitimate” marriage. From the liberals, we hear the argument that marriage is between two people who love one another regardless of gender, and that marriage between gays and lesbians should be legalized. These countless opinions have been placed side by side and against one another, influencing our own views on the subject matter itself.
One argument that I find particularly interesting is the seemingly beneficial marriage of different sexes when compared to same sex. While I myself am a proponent of same sex marriage and believe that everyone should have the right to marry whomever they please, it was interesting to see that there were certain benefits that came with being in a same sex marriage that cannot be directly applied to gay marriages. It has been said that while not all marriages are the same, and that there are cases where some same sex marriages have greater success than different sex marriages, and vice versa, there are some glaring characteristics of different sex marriages that are unique to them. For one, researchers have found that one benefit of different sex marriages is that they are recognized by the law. When you get married, you sign a marriage certificate signifying that the state recognizes your union, at least, if you are performing a different sex marriage. While some states are currently approving the bill to legalize gay marriage, it is not yet nationally recognized by the law. Having your marriage recognized as being legal, gives it a sense of being real and gives the partners in the marriage a sense of support and stability in the feeling that this marriage may work out. Another benefit of different sex marriages is the public support that comes with it. As most of us have seen through the media, the support for gay marriage has been rising, but there is still a great deal of opponents for the union. There are many people who oppose of the union by publicly speaking their mind, making posters and signs to advertise throughout the public, and even going out of their way to target pro-gay groups and trying to disrupt pro-gay events. Public acceptance of gay marriages would help with the recognition of the union, not only to the public, but to those taking part in it. Knowing that your union is accepted by the country can help strengthen some gay unions and ensure a better marriage.
These benefits of having a different sex marriage, while they may not be evident in every marriage, bring about a point that same sex marriages are not very easy to partake in. Not only do you have to fight with the law to have your marriage recognized, but you have to fight to make sure that you and your partner recognize the marriage for yourself. The benefits of different sex marriages should, hopefully, carry over to same sex marriages and give those who want to partake in it, a worth while marriage.