The US Supreme Court’s ruling on June 26, 2015 which guarantees the right of same -sex couples to be married in 50 states have spurned public debate not just in America, but across the world. This court decision requires every state to recognize gay marriages that took place in other states; therefore overturning their local bans on homosexual marriages. This sudden change in the marriage law encouraged opposing views from policy makers, religious leaders, ethicists and the general public. For the supporters of gay marriage and the LGBT group, legalization of same-sex marriage is a key symbol of equal citizenship between straight and gay individuals. It is also considered as an important step that would normalize the condition of homosexuality and remove the stigma surrounding this sexual preference.
The battle for marriage equality has been a hallmark of the LGBT movement for decades, making the ruling of Assoc. Justice Anthony Kennedy a game-changing act of social progress. On the other hand, religious institutions, conservatives and even some gay individuals oppose gay marriage because of its purported negative consequences and violations of moral norms. According to opponents of gay marriage, gay marriage conflicts with the will of God, and Church leaders emphasize that it is a violation of religious beliefs. The arguments of the anti-gay marriage can be summarized in one idea - same-sex marriage should not be legalized because it violates moral laws and divine precepts, it defies the purpose of procreation, it creates a slippery slope for other types of non-traditional marriages and it seeks to change the institution of marriage (Powers, 2010). Pope Benedict XVI even reiterates that same sex marriage is an alarming threat to humanity itself. But supporters of same-sex marriage like the USA Today correspondent Kirsten Powers criticizes this ideal and suggests that religious leaders “should spend less time trying to prevent a tiny percentage of the population from having the right to marry” and instead focus on major societal crisis such as extra-marital affairs in heterosexual marriages. (Powers 1) While I agree with the precept that love is a genderless feeling, same sex couples should not be granted the right to marry because they would reinvent the institution of marriage to accomodate their personal interests which will have a negative impact on children, on existing laws and on the entire society.
LGBT campaigns cite the Due Process Clause and Equal Protection Clause under the Fourteenth Amendment as the grounds of the argument about the fundamental right of the gay people to marry. Same-sex marriage advocates explain that the Due Process Clause gives every citizen the absolute freedom to act on his personal choices in matters that concern family life and marriage. On the other hand, the Equal Protection Clause orders every state to give every person equal protection of laws. Supporters of gay marriage mention that its legalization is necessary in order to give equal rights and protection to same-sex couples (Mappes, 1987). Initially, these rights are only given by the federal government to heterosexual marriages; thus, gay couples resent the unfortunate circumstance that their sexual orientation denies them of these rights. The General Accounting Office of the federal government states that there are more than a thousand rights that are awarded to US citizens during marriage. These benefits include veteran’s benefits, Medicaid, family leave, immigration law, estate taxes, Social Security benefits, pensions, retirement savings, health insurance, Medicaid, and hospital visitation rights (U.S. General Accounting Office, 1997).
While those who oppose gay marriage recognize the important federal benefits that same-sex couples can have, they argue that the disadvantages of legalizing homosexual marriage outweigh this single benefit. One of the main arguments of same-sex marriage movement is that the state denies them of equal rights and restricts them to exercise their liberty to marry their loved ones of the same sex. However, same-sex marriage is not an issue about equal rights. In countries where same-sex marriage is not legal, both homosexuals and heterosexuals are endowed with the right of marrying another adult of the opposite sex. That means that they also both lack the right to marry a person with the same sex. To simplify the argument, we can evaluate the principle behind the historical civil rights advocacy in which black abolitionists ask the state to give them equal rights that the whites already have. Their claim for equal rights is justifiable as white men have the right to vote, but blacks are not given the same right of suffrage. This example leads us to the conclusion that the campaign for same-sex marriage can not be justified on the premise that they deserve equal rights (U.S. General Accounting Office, 1997). The right to marry is given not to individuals per ce, but it is a collective right that is only granted to heterosexual couples. Therefore, it is not logical to conclude that same-sex marriage would give homosexual equal rights. It is rather imperative to say that granting them the license to marry someone of the same sex would be a kind of privilege (Barnet & Hugo, 2010).
Same-sex marriage destroys a millenia-old tradition. Historically and traditionally, marriage strictly refers to the covenant or legal union of one man and one woman (Powers, 2010). Legalization of gay marriage would redefine the meaning of marriage as an institution that is responsible for procreation and child rearing. Gay marriage will paralyze the institution from fulfilling its function and it will introduce a new formation of a family. Furthermore, it defies the duty of the state to legally bond a man and a woman because their relationship is expected to produce children. The government has direct involvement with the legislation of heterosexual marriage in order to protect the identity and status of their children. Their main reason for legislating marriage is the possibility that a man and a woman’s relationship can generate children. It regulates matrimony to channel heterosexual couples who have the procreative potential towards a lasting union that will join the children, their father and mothers in the most important unit of a society- this unit is called family. Since the government supports marriage for the sole purpose of procreation, they have no valid reason to support marriages that are impossible to produce children (U.S. General Accounting Office, 1997).
Sexual relations are only important to society because they are expected to produce children and catalyze human flourishing. Redefining marriage in order to legalize the union between same-sex couples does not justify the government’s role in supporting marriage as an institution that takes care of procreation. Same-sex marriages can not bear child out of the couple’s biological contact, but their children will always be produced by technology and surrogate mothers. In this instance, it is clear that gay marriages do not serve the interest of the state and therefore it should be treated as an advocacy that may deserve acknowledgment, but not approval (Donaghey & Galloway, n.d.). Gay marriage advocates may challenge these arguments pointing out infertile heterosexual couples or those who are fertile but do not want to have a child as defiance to the function of marriage. However, these objections can be easily answered (Powers, 2010). Modern science can device advanced ways to help infertile couples bear children while those who are not planning to have children may have a change of heart in the future. Nonetheless, the union of these heterosexual individuals still gives hope to the state that their sexual relationship will produce children-sooner or later.
Same-sex marriage advocates argue that it is alright for a man to marry another man or a female to marry her girlfriend as long as the union does not bring harm to anyone. They further imply that denying bisexuals, lesbians, gays, and trans of marrying someone with the same sex is like denying them of justice (Powers, 2010). Although, the people who are against homosexual marriage understand the circumstance that same-sex couples are going through, they strongly declare that legalizing this type of marriage would revolutionized the traditional and historical meaning of marriage. It would be converted to an institution whose function is not to procreate, but to satiate the sexual choices and emotional commitment of adults (Powers, 2010).
Simply put, the purpose of marriage is not to secure children’s rights and identities but to satisfy the needs of adults. With the law allowing these conditions, it creates slippery slopes for the legalization of other non-traditional union. The government unwittingly grants license to polyamorous marriages, marriage between an adult and a minor without requiring parent’s consent, marriage between couples who are relatives and other similar cases (U.S. General Accounting Office, 1997). The legalization of same-sex marriage would restructure the definition of marriage as the state’s way of honoring the choices of adults. This altered definition will have a negative impact on children since they will no longer be the center of marriage as its primary interest is to serve adults’ interests. Marriage is not only a matter of personal commitment between couples. It has bigger purposes and deeper ideals that it requires the recognition and approval of the law. Marriage is a union between a man and a woman under the verdict of law with the main purpose of carrying out procreation and establishing healthy families that would be the foundation of the society (Barnet & Hugo, 2010).
Lastly, there is no need to change the definition of marriage in the Constitution in order to provide the equal benefits that same-sex couples wanted to have. Domestic partnerships and civil unions offer these couples a number of privileges such as health insurance benefits, joint taxes, visitation rights and inheritance without last will. Civil unions are sufficient enough to show that the state recognizes the legal needs of gay couples, as well as show them that they are respected regardless of their different sexual orientation (U.S. General Accounting Office, 1997). On the other hand, the state should also respect the belief that marriage is a spiritual union between two heterosexual adults. Giving homosexual couples the right to marry would give them a special right that would make it unfair for the heterosexuals (Donaghey & Galloway, n.d.). The government can not choose a specific group and bestow them a right that are only meant for them as it would result to issues of inequality. Instead, legal arrangements between homosexual couples can be drafted without sacrificing the essence and definition of marriage.
Barnet, Sylvan and Bedau Hugo. Current Issues and Enduring Questions: A Guide to Critical Thinking and Argument, with Readings. Bedford/St. Martins, 2010. Print.
Donaghey, Corrie and Kate Galloway. “Analysing Conscience Votes in Parliament: Do Churches Influence the Law?” James Cook University Law Review. 84-112. Print.
Mappes, Thomas A., and Jane S. Zembaty. "Social Ethics Morality and Social Policy." (1987).
Powers, Kirsten. “Hypocrisy and Gay Marriage. USA Today. 8 Nov. 2010. Print.
U. S. General Accounting Office. Defense of Marriage Act. GAO/OGC-97-16 (Washington, D.C.: January 31, 1997).