Same sex marriage has been a controversial social issue that arose from a few states to nationwide within a few years, but the public opinion on this topic has evolved over the course of time. The originally definition of the word marriage was described as ‘a socially or ritually recognized union or legal contract between husband that establishes rights and obligations between them, between them and their children, and between them and their in-laws’ (Haviland, Prins, McBride, & Walrath, 2010). Now many of us may look up the definition of marriage and find it to fit the equality of all genders, both same and opposite sex. The new definition that we recognize for marriage is the legally or formally recognized union of a man and a woman (or, in some jurisdictions, two people of the same sex) as partners in a relationship. Introduction of same-sex marriage laws has varied by jurisdiction, being variously accomplished through a legislative change to marriage laws, a court ruling based on constitutional guarantees of equality, or by direct popular vote (via a ballot initiative or a referendum) (Wandera, 2013). The recognition of same-sex marriage is a not only a political, religious and social issue but, a human and civil rights issue as well. This issue has sparked a nationwide controversy to arise over whether same-sex couples should be allowed marriage, or instead be allowed to hold a different status (a civil union, domestic partnership), or be even denied such rights.
Arguments for and against the gay marriage debate often involve religious factors. It was not until the escalation of Christianity belief that a negative attitude towards same-sex marriage arose. Christian groups who are proponents argue that lesbians and gay people were as such by God and should have equal rights as others. As for the Christian groups who are against it, argue that same sex marriages are immoral, against God’s will and subvert the goal of human sexuality, which is to produce children (Same Sex Marriage, 2013). Many of those with opinions on same sex marriage take on these positions because of their beliefs about family. Many of these believers argue that children have the right to grow up with mother and father, and raising them in a homosexual household is automatically denying them that right. Many scientist have tested this theory and found that children raised by homosexual parents, are capable as proving the same parenting as heterosexual parents and even to their own children later in life.
On February 23, 2011, President Obama made the decision to instruct the Justice Department to stop defending DOMA, the federal law signed into law by Bill Clinton in 1996 that defines marriage as a legal union between man and woman, over concerns that it violates the equal protection part of the fourteenth Amendment. With the government prohibiting same-sex couples from getting married, they are denying them the rights that every other American has, indeed violating their fourteenth Amendment. The fourteenths Amendment states ‘No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws’. The equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution prohibits states and the federal government from denying any person equal protection of the law. States must make laws that apply equally to all people who are in similar situations unless the State has a very good reason. Questions of equal protection usually arise when a state denies a particular class of people the right to do something that it allows other individuals to do. Numerous rights and responsibilities are associated with marriage. Same-sex couples are being discriminated on because they are not granted any of these rights (Hess, n.d.).
The National Organization of Women’s 2012 research describe many of the federal rights, defenses and responsibilities that go along with marriage, which many of these same-sex couples are denied. These rights include exemptions from federal income taxes on spouse’s health insurance, exemptions from estate joint taxes, life insurance/Social Security benefits upon death of spouse, disability or retirement of spouse, the workers compensation protections for the family of a worker injured on the job, are all denied to same-sex couples. These same-sex couples are denied the right to make important decisions regarding their partner’s health, well-being, and medical treatment. Sullivan (1997) goes on to explains how same-sex couples are not allowed the opportunity to adopt their partner’s children. Some lesbian mothers are often even denied custody of their children because of their sexuality.
The legalization of same-sex marriage has been an ongoing battle that many have been debating over since the late twentieth century. As of January 6, 2015, gay marriage has been legalized in 36 US States (Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming). Even sixteen other countries have adapted same sex marriage (Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, and Uruguay). Same sex couples have come a long way. Though there are a few countries that have same sex marriages banned, we have come a long way from twenty years ago. Same sex marriage has been a controversial social issue that arose from a few states to nationwide within a few years, but the public opinion on this topic has evolved over the course of time and is still evolving till this say. As laws, change there is a chance that 10 years from now same sex marriage will be legal in all 50 states and many more countries around the world.
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