This annotated bibliography is meant to be an overview of my research towards a paper on same sex marriage. It evaluates four pieces of literature that I have chosen to use as external sources for my paper, providing a summary of the text and an argument for its relevancy: Case and Stewart’s (2009) study “Heterosexual Privilege Awareness, Prejudice, and Support of Gay Marriage Among Diversity Course Students,” Nussbaum’s (2010) article “A right to marry?”, Mills’ (2009) editorial “It's time to allow gay marriage in Australia,” and Australian Marriage Equality’s (2011) article “The Case for Marriage.” In my paper, I aim to use these sources to point out the logical fallacies in the arguments against gay marriage, as well as push for tolerance courses and diversity education as the key to addressing this systemic issue. Only then can the social attitudes regarding gays and lesbians ease up to the point where the case for marriage will no longer be so strongly opposed.
The issue of same sex marriage is a very complex and difficult problem to solve; there is an entire minority group that wishes to be granted the same rights as heterosexuals, and is experiencing a great deal of resistance from those opposed to it. The arguments against homosexual marriage are as follows: it “ruins” the sanctity of traditional marriage, it flies in the face of normal, established society as people understand it, and people deem homosexual couples unfit for raising children. There are other arguments, but the majority of them seem, in my research, to be religion and values-based. My argument in this paper is that the decision whether or not to allow gays to be married is a rights-based issue, not values-based, and that people’s personal opinion on whether it is acceptable should not determine whether or not it is legal. The opposition to gay marriage stems from an overall social discomfort and intolerance of gays in general, and should not dictate legislation. There is a systemic fear and lack of understanding of alternative lifestyles, and that leads to the prejudices that bring about gay marriage bans.
Case, K., & Stewart, B. (2009). Heterosexual Privilege Awareness, Prejudice, and Support of Gay Marriage Among Diversity Course Students. College Teaching, 58(1), 3-7. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.
In this study, Case and Stewart (2009) opted to evaluate the amount of homophobia and recognition of heterosexual privilege experienced by students in a diversity course throughout its run. Surveys were taken at the beginning and end of the course gauging the students’ sensitivity towards gays and lesbians, and they found that the participants grew more tolerant as a result of the diversity course. They became more aware of heterosexual privilege (namely, that their status as heterosexuals placed them at an advantage over homosexuals, as they had rights and social status that gays and lesbians do not), and even became more accepting of same-sex marriage. It also argues for the existence of sexuality-based diversity courses, instead of merely teaching about race and gender. This would improve education and raise acceptance of gays and lesbians and their right to marry.
I would like to use this article as evidence that one way to create an environment that supports same-sex marriage is greater education and tolerance for minorities. The researchers were psychology professors at the University of Houston-Clear Lake, making them qualified to discuss attitudes and prejudices, and this study was published in 2010, making it a very recent case.
NUSSBAUM, M. (2010). A right to marry?. Dissent (00123846), 56(3), 43-55. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.
In Nussbaum’s article, she makes the case that marriage in and of itself, much less same sex marriage, is difficult to define; there are many different marriages that do not include having children, or marriages that even occur without love. Therefore, it makes marriage very pluralistic and versatile. The point of this argument is that, because other marriages exist without some of the things that are normally associated with it, there is no reason to legalize a marriage between a same-sex couple, as it would have the exact same omissions of these aspects of marriage. Nussbaum (2010) even argues that the government should not be granted the right to allow marriages, much less deny them, as they are a governing institution, and should not have those rights. Nussbaum (2010) takes us through the history of marriage, and concludes that marriages even in the past were far less “traditional” than most opponents of gay marriage believe they are.
Martha Nussbaum is a Professor of Law and Ethics at the University of Chicago, and the article is taken from her book, which was published in February 2010, making this a recent and reputable source. I will use this in my research to provide more factual arguments for marriage equality.
Mills, R. (2009) It's time to allow gay marriage in Australia. The Punch. Retrieved March 23, 2011, from www.thepunch.com.au/articles/its-time-to-allow-gay-marriage.
In this article, Mills (2009) argues the emotional points of view regarding his advocacy for gay marriage, mostly expressing incredulity that it has not happened yet. The facts and ideas presented within it are, for the most part, based on opinion, as it is an editorial piece. It expresses Mills’ (2009) opinion on same sex marriage, with a few statistics peppered in (50% of marriages ending in divorce, 60% of other Australians supporting same-sex marriage). Mills (2009) is an actor and musician, not a writer, and he bases his opinion on the subject on the experiences he has had with gay friends and relatives.
As the subject of gay marriage is an emotional issue, it is important to include the more sympathetic, emotion-based appeals for its legalization. This article was written in 2009, so it is fairly recent, though it may not reflect the most current changes in gay marriage legislation. However, it merely provides an emotional opinion by its author in order to address the normal, reactionary arguments against gay marriage, such as religion-based opposition and claims that it damages traditional families. Mills also posits that gay couples should also be allowed to adopt kids, as there are plenty of loving families that would love to have children.
The Case for Marriage. (2011) Australian Marriage Equality - Working for equal rights for all Australians. Retrieved March 23, 2011, from http://www.australianmarriageequality.com/case.htm
This article provides a more logical, sensible explanation for why same-sex marriage should be legalized. It explains how the couples would be advantaged as a result, namely allowing them to express their love for each other in the same way that heterosexuals do. It repeats the arguments that, regardless of personal opinion regarding gay marriage, it is not something that should be made illegal, as it is a basic human right. Currently, federal law states that it “is acceptable to exclude lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered persons from a central social institution, and that [their] relationships are inferior.” (2011) The primary case is that “no group of Australians should be systematically excluded from any legal institution,” which includes marriage.
The author of this article is not listed specifically, but it is a piece of literature from the organization Australian Marriage Equality; therefore, it does work toward that agenda. Again, it is an opinion piece, but it provides logical arguments for allowing gay marriage (presenting it as a case of discrimination, as a group of people are being denied rights). It is important to understand the basic logical arguments in favor of gay marriage in order to grasp the aim of the research of this paper.
In summary, these three articles (and one study) will help to support my case that gays and lesbians should be granted the right to marry. Two of them provide emotional and logic based arguments for gay marriage, making impassioned pleas to those who oppose them to change their minds and see the error of their ways. One of those is an editorial from an average citizen, the other a piece of press from a gay rights advocacy group. A third article goes through the history of marriage itself, for the purposes of debunking the myth that marriage has always been a certain way, and that it should not be changed. It also explains the arguments against gay marriage, and why they are not sufficient to warrant a lack of legalization.
Finally, there is a study that indicates that acceptance of same-sex marriage would be greater if people were educated in sensitivity toward minorities, and given a properly informed perspective towards homosexuals. This would allow them to allay their fears about homosexuals, and grant themselves a greater understanding of equality among individuals. All of my research sources are recent and relevant, as well as reputable. I believe they would have a great deal of use in my paper towards explaining the aforementioned points.
The road to same sex legal marriages is a long one, and there is a great deal of opposition from many sides towards it. The only way to secure the rights for this group of people is to inform them of the flaws in their case for banning gay marriage, and showing them that allowing gays and lesbians to have rights is not something that will “ruin” marriage for the rest of the population.