Monday, April 6, 2009
I wanted to turn the focus away from sex today and more towards relationships: specifically gay marriage.
Today the Vermont Governor vetoed a bill that was passed by the state legislature legalizing same sex marriages. The bill was only 6 votes short of immunity from being vetoed by the governor. Things may change though, as Queerty.com reports, because two absent representatives were in favor of the bill and a few people, despite stating opposition will change their votes because of the Governor’s disrespect “for the legislative process when he made the decision to announce publically [sic] his intention to veto the bill even before it was put up for consideration."
In similar news, on April 3rd, Iowa’s Supreme Court struck down laws limiting sex to just between a man and a woman. (You can read the whole court decision here - Queerty.com). Reading the full decision by the court is actually very interesting. They analyze all of the arguments against gay marriage and why they are invalid. They prove that gay marriage does not harm children, marriage is not just for procreation, gay marriage destabilizes heterosexual marriages or infringes on religious freedom. The basis for their decision is that their state constitution promises liberty and equality and by denying one specific minority group of a certain right is straight (ha) out discrimination.
Also, the California State courts are still looking at Prop 8 from last fall’s election (it was a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage). Since January, the California Supreme Court has been hearing challenges to Prop 8. This is similar to how Iowa went about the ruling, with the argument being that is an amendment that just targets one minority group and prevents the courts from doing their “most basic job of upholding the constitutional promise of ‘liberty and justice for all’” (lambdalegal.com).
I wanted to take time to break down the same-sex marriage issue and look at the laws surrounding it. Obviously, Turned On promotes safe and healthy relationships between anyone, man and woman, man and man or woman and woman, so I do take a more pro-same-sex marriage view, but I will try to examine both sides.
First, let’s look at Michigan’s marriage law. In 1996, a Michigan law was passed: “Marriage is inherently a unique relationship between a man and a woman. As a matter of public policy, this state has a special interest in encouraging, supporting, and protecting that unique relationship in order to promote, among other goals, the stability and welfare of society and its children. A marriage contracted between individuals of the same sex is invalid in this state.” (Mich. Compiled Laws § 551.1, § 551.271-2). In 2004, the state constitution was amended to say “To secure and preserve the benefits of marriage for our society and for future generations of children, the union of one man and one woman in marriage shall be the only agreement recognized as a marriage or similar union for any purpose.” (Mich. Constitution, Article I § 25).
So Michigan’s main problems are securing and preserving the benefits to society and also to children. Interesting. If gays were allowed to marry, society would be doomed (Just kidding).
First, they want to preserve the benefits that marriage have to society. So by denying a group of people access to shared health care benefits for their family, helps society? Allowing two people who are in love to marry and strengthen and promote their relationship and commitment to each other is a bad thing. Is that not a benefit to society? Some people argue that marriage promotes happiness, but by allowing gay marriage, it will damage the moral fabric of society and make society less happy as a whole. This is where I like to ask the question – if two guys are getting married on the opposite side of the state, and you have no knowledge of this, how does it affect your personal marriage? How does anyone else’s marriage affect your own relationship, even if it is your neighbors? You make your marriage what you want it to be and that should not change depending on who else is married too.
Also, promoting diversity and equality seems like a benefit to society. By creating laws and constitutional amendments that deny specific minority groups of basic constitutional rights seems a little counterproductive. The 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution states in Section 1 “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. 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” (United States Constitution). This seems that these laws and amendments are abridging the privileges of citizens.
What about popular opinion and “tradition.” The Iowa Court basically said too bad to those arguments stating “When a certain tradition is used as both the governmental objective and the classification to further that objective, the equal protection analysis is transformed into the circular question of whether the classification accomplishes the governmental objective, which objective is to maintain the classification.” Popular opinion did not like the idea of integration of blacks and whites, but it still happened. It was a rough transition, but the world didn’t end with blacks and whites having equal protection under the law. Same with allowing interracial marriages; another type of marriage that was originally outlawed but later overturned. I do not know of any cases that an interracial couple affected the sanctity of someone else’s marriage, and society still seems to be functioning pretty well.
Opponents of same-sex marriage also argue that marriage is for procreation and two men (or women) cannot procreate. That is true, two men or two women together may not create a child. However, if lack of procreation is reason enough to outlaw these, then any sterile person should not be allowed to marry either. They cannot procreate, so is their marriage any less meaningful?
Getting to the second part of Michigan’s law and amendment, not allowing gay marriages protect our children. Well, the APA took homosexuality off of the list of mental disorders a long time ago, and most gays are, contrary to 1970s beliefs, NOT pedophiles. Scientific research has concluded though that coming form a family of two same-sex parents DOES have an affect on the children. A positive affect. Overall, there really is no significant difference, but scientific research has actually shown positive affects on children reared by same-sex parents. I would say that if anything, these laws are hurting children more than helping them. They are exposing them to discrimination, and as I mentioned before with shared partner benefits, they could be limiting the health care benefits that they could receive with joint plans between parents.
Michigan has taken these laws one-step further, denying same-sex couples the right to civil unions. I am pretty sure that Civil Unions were invented in 1989 in Denmark to provide the same fiscal and legal qualities of a marriage to same-sex couples. So now states are denying something that was created for gays from them, basically just denying them of legal and fiscal benefits. Select states do grant Civil Unions to same-sex couples. Civil Unions are a government granted union, not acknowledged by the church. But doesn’t the government grant marriages too? Many people have ceremonies performed in a church, but one of my best friends got married in a courthouse, because a marriage is a legal status obtained by a couple. The legal and religious definitions of marriage are different and should not need to be codependent. Not looking at states that discriminate in issuing marriage licenses, but looking only at states the have civil unions for gays and marriages for straight couples, does this violate rulings similar to Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 where the Supreme Court said that having things that were separate but equal was no longer acceptable? If Civil Unions are equal (which for the most part they aren’t) then why do they have separate names and why do more straight couples not get them? Would most straight couples trade their marriage for a civil union? I don’t think so.
I obviously am one sided for same-sex marriage, but until I see a case that someone’s same-sex marriage created true repercussions on a straight couple’s marriage, other than they saying the bible doesn’t support it or just being against it, then I am going to have to stick with my side. The bible says a lot of things that people do not follow anymore such as: DEUTERONOMY 22:13-21 “If it is discovered that a bride is not a virgin, the Bible demands that she be executed by stoning immediately,” and MARK 10:1-12 “Divorce is strictly forbidden in both Testaments, as is remarriage of anyone who has been divorced.” The United States is not based off of the bible, which is why we have a separation of church and state and therefore laws should not be based off of what is said in the text or concurrent people’s beliefs. Also, as we can see by the above passages, times change. In fact, the bible does not really say much at all about homosexuality as we define it modernly. I really don’t like to get into religion stuff, but the one thing to take away is that marriage can be defined by a church or the state. It is a legal status that must be approved by a state (even every straight marriage) before benefits can accompany. I am not arguing on behalf of religion right now, because no church has an obligation to marry any two people, gay or straight, but the government should provide equal opportunities for all.
One final point about homosexual rights I wanted to make is about legal protection of employment. In most states there is not protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation by employers. In Michigan, there is only protection of public (state) employees for protections based on sexual orientation. Any gay person can be fired solely for the fact that they are gay. Is this also fair? We protect people based on race, gender, ethnicity, etc. but because someone is different they can still be fired.
What do you think? Talk back; give your opinions for or against gay marriage. We want to hear from you!
Also, I just had to post this, because it is a comical look at why gay marriage is bad. You may have seen the Facebook group, but here is a link to an article containing why Gay Marriage Killed the Dinosaurs. http://www.macauleypeterson.com/WP/?p=33=1 It is a lot of similar things that I have mentioned actually. Also check out Queerty.com for news and their interesting article on why the courts matter so much in our society http://www.queerty.com/our-idiot-proof-democracy-why-gays-lesbians-must-stand-up-for-the-courts-20090405/ .