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Same-Sex Marriage: Marriage Laws Features

In the United States, married couples receive many legal benefits that couples who live together but are unmarried do not. More and more, gay couples are insisting that they receive the same legal rights that traditional, heterosexual married couples receive. However, fierce public and state and U.S. congressional opposition to gay marriage has built legal barriers which prevent homosexuals from marrying.

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Marriage laws, established by the state, ensure that the couples who do get the benefits of marriage are those who benefit the state by having children. Since individuals involved in a same sex relationship cannot bear children that would ultimately add to the tax base of a community, there is no incentive for the state to recognize their union and provide them the benefits of marriage, an expensive burden to the state (Kolasinksi, 2004). However, as citizens of the United States, all people are guaranteed the inalienable right to pursue happiness. It does not exclude on the basis of sexual preference. The government was originally formed as an entity meant to champion the rights of the individual whether they are on the majority or minority side of public opinion. Laws that were enacted in the South disallowed the marriage between black and white people but were struck down by the Supreme Court and in 1964 the Civil Rights Act followed the tenets of the Constitution by prohibiting discrimination. The opposition to gay marriage is based on prejudice and, as time passes, the concept will become more and more accepted. It, like racial prejudice, will become socially abhorrent (Sullivan, 2000). In addition, the disallowing of gay marriage by legislation violates the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, “The law [against same-sex marriage] discriminates on the basis of sex because it makes one’s ability to marry depend on one’s gender” (American Civil Liberties Union, 1996).

According to a Washington Post/ABC News poll, about 60 percent of Americans oppose gay marriage. However, the same poll found that 53 percent were against a constitutional amendment outlawing the lawful acknowledgment of same-sex unions (“Civil Unions”, 2004). This sentiment has been reflected by some legislators such as those in the State of Connecticut who oppose same-sex marriage but support civil unions. Gay rights activists had heavily lobbied lawmakers in an effort to legalize gay marriage, but they compromised on a civil union bill when support for marriage was rejected by most. A Republican governor, M. Jodi Rell, signed the bill making Connecticut the second state to offer gays and lesbians civil unions after Vermont. Rell explained that she signed the bill because she was opposed to discrimination in any form. This law provided all the legal privileges of marriage (Simmons, 2005). Other states such as California and Oregon offer various rights under domestic-partnership laws but not full rights while Massachusetts has allowed gay marriages since 2004, the first state to do so (Abraham & Paulson, 2007). While Connecticut gay rights activist groups applauded state lawmakers, they expressed displeasure that the law fell short of offering a comprehensive equivalence of marriage as its neighbor Massachusetts and that they would persist in their efforts to “work toward the day when there are not two lines at town hall, one for them and one for us” (Simmons, 2005).

Much as the flag burning issue, Republicans use gay marriage for political advantage. This strategy worked for President Bush in the 2004 election and those trying to keep their jobs on the Hill have learned well from him. The Republican tactic was to put gay-marriage bans on the ballot in each state so as to get more conservative voters to the polls. In Ohio, the key state in Bush’s victory, this strategy worked by drawing more voters to the polls even though the ban was entirely unnecessary because gay marriage was already banned by state law. It’s a civil rights issue that eventually will be recognized as one in all states, not just Massachusetts and a few others but until then will be used as a political tool.

Works Cited

Abraham, Yvonne & Paulson, Michael. “Wedding Day First Gays Marry, Many Seek Licenses.” The Boston Globe.

American Civil Liberties Union. Gay Marriage. California: Greenhaven Press, (1996), pp. 14-15.

“Civil Unions for Gays Favored, Polls Show.” MSNBC. (2004). Web.

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Kolasinksi, Adam. “The Secular Case Against Gay Marriage.” The Tech. Vol. 124, N. 5, (2004).

Simmons, Todd. “Civil Compromise.” Advocate Report. I. 939, (2005).

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StudyCorgi. (2021, October 30). Same-Sex Marriage: Marriage Laws Features. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/same-sex-marriage-marriage-laws-features/

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