If the founders of our country said that we all have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, than why are 10% of Americans denied the basic right to marry?Marriage should be about love, not gender. Marriage originated to protect property rights, but ideas have changed over time. There are two definitions of marriage, one is civil and one is religious. Gay marriage should be legalized now in all 50 states.
Marriage is a right. Imagine spending your life with someone, being faithful, and not being able to marry them. According to the Cornell University Law School’s website describing marriage requirements in all fifty states, any single person of a certain age, which varies by state, may obtain a marriage license as long as they are marrying someone of the opposite sex. (Marriage Laws of the Fifty States, District of Columbia and Puerto Rico) This applies to murderers, rapists, and people who have been divorced many times. It is unfair that just because two people are of the same sex they cannot marry when almost anyone else can. The government should not decide what kind of love is acceptable. That is a personal matter. According to Gary Gates, a Senior Research Fellow at the Williams Institute on sexual orientation law and public policy. approximately 5-10% of the population is gay. This means that marriage is something 90% of Americans have the right to. ( Johnson ) To get a marriage license there is no test that has to be passed, no letters of recommendation required… it is just something that anyone who is not gay can do. Gay couples should have the same rights as heterosexual couples because they feel the same love. Not allowing gays to have the right to marry is unfair and wrong. Gay people are emotionally damaged by discrimination. In October 2010 five gay teens committed suicide in a three-week period due to harassment by their peers. Seth Walsh, a 13-year-old boy from California, hung himself after being bullied for being gay. According to his grandmother in an ABC News article, “The harassment and the teasing and the taunting just became too much.” (Hibbard 1) Many gay teens commit suicide after years of rejection by peers, family, and society in general. Those who manage to survive their youth and find life partners deserve to enjoy the privileges of marriage. No one deserves to be ridiculed for something that is beyond his or her control.
In the story of one woman who immigrated to Brazil to be with her partner, “…it is disgraceful that Claudia and I, and all others like us, are treated as though we had less value as human beings, not even basic human rights…that we can’t marry and live, work and enjoy, the great USA…” (Real People, Real Impact) In this case the woman who left the country had been vice president of a bank in California and a responsible, contributing member of society. Now she is in exile just because of her sexuality. This is one of many cases where gay couples are made to feel that they don’t belong.
When gay couples are denied their legal right to marry, they are not only denied being legally recognized as a couple, but they are also denied the medical, financial, immigration, and employment benefits marriage has to offer. Eric Payne has been with his partner William Seright for nine years. William suffers from congestive heart failure.
Eric says “The way the laws stand now, Bill’s death would be my death – and not in the romantic, allegorical sense of two people in love, but in the very real, physical sense of death. Because we cannot share in the rights given married couples, I cannot automatically inherit our home.” ( Payne) Heterosexual couples would be given the right to inherit their partner’s belongings after their death, but because Eric and Bill are not recognized by the government as a couple, they are not given these rights. Since gay couples are not legally recognized in most states, they do not count as immediate family. Therfore, they are not given the right to make important decisions for their partner if he or she is unable. Another example of this unfair denial of legal protections is a story about a couple named Kelly and Stacy. Although they have been together for 8 years, Kelly is denied the right to see Stacy in the hospital. She says “When I am in the hospital, she has been denied access to me (they told her to leave, when my room-mates husband was allowed to stay with HIS wife). Talk about a hypocritical society.” (Real People, Real Impact) If someone is dying in the hospital, they deserve the right to see his or her partner. This is something a straight couple can do, but not a gay couple. This is one of the many ways gay couples are denied their legal rights. The person we want with us during our most critical times is the person we love, and this should never be questioned by legal restrictions.
Some may argue that marriage is meant to be between a woman and a man to reproduce, but this is not true. (Sommerville) If marriage was simply for the purpose of reproduction, every married couple would have children, which isn’t realistic. Infertile women, men with testicular cancer, and people who simply do not want children, wouldn’t be able to get married. This argument doesn’t make sense because not every married couple reproduces. Many adopt or choose not to have children, but they can still marry, while gays cannot. In a survey taken by 20 freshman students from Santa Barbara High School, 100% of them said they support gay marriage. (Ranson, Olivia. “Gay Marriage” Survey. 4 February 2011) Another counterargument is that some people say Gays can live their lives the same way as a married couple would, and they don’t need to be legally recognized. However, this is incorrect. “There are literally thousands of state-provided perks for heterosexual married couples that are not available through any means other than through marriage” (The Gay Marriage Rebuttal List ) As I stated earlier, gays can be emotionally damaged by not being able to marry, and it can make them feel socially rejected by society. In a survey taken at Santa Barbara High School, 65% of students said they know someone who has been bullied for their sexual orientation. (Ranson, Olivia. “Gay Marriage” Survey. 4 February 2011) Being refused the right to marry is just another form of bullying.
Marriage is something that should be about love and commitment, regardless of gender. Write to your congress person and urge them to support gay marriage. Become an advocate for gay rights. Gay rights are legal rights, everyone deserves to love. Let people know you don’t appreciate humor that makes fun of gays. Its time for all of us to recognize that gay rights are the civil rights issue of our time and history will judge us by the actions we take now!