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Should Gay Marriage Rights Be a State or Federal Law?

Summary

According to the article commentary on “Gay Couples,” supporters of same-sex marriage contend that the law should uphold the principle of equal treatment and non-discrimination by granting such couples access to fundamental rights and privileges that are enjoyed by legally married heterosexual couples. However, opponents do so on the foundation that the act is a violation of traditional ethical values. Gay Americans have been calling for the right to create more formalized relationships since the 1970s; even so, it has been a silent issue. Nevertheless, the spark that started the debate emanated from the Baehr v. Lewin case in 1993. The Hawaii State Supreme Court ruled that existing laws prohibiting same-sex marriage would be unconstitutional unless the state government offers a compelling reason not to do so (“Gay Couples” 2). The court’s decision sparked a nationwide backlash, and over the next decade, the Defense of Marriage Acts (DOMA) was signed into the legislature. This Act neither bans gay marriage itself nor does it require any state to restrict them. Over time, same-sex marriage gained acceptance in the various U.S. states.

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The article commentary on Urdan (2011) discusses the debate over same-sex marriage that has been percolating in the U.S. for almost two decades, and soon, the Supreme Court that stood on the issue inconclusively will have to confront it fully. In early 2000, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court triggered a nationwide debate when it ruled that the state should allow same-sex marriage (Urdan 1). The issue of marriage equality among supporters is centered on the Fourteenth Amendment that prevents states from denying an individual “liberty…without due process of law.” Given the Fourteenth Amendment clause and other prior court rulings, such as Lawrence v. Texas, Loving v. Virginia, will likely set the Supreme Court’s stage supporting same-sex marriage. Another factor that will significantly affect the Supreme Court’s decision is the aspect of federalism. Since states are given the independence to adapt their policies and privileges, it is possible that based on the Fourteenth Amendment, marriage will be regarded as a fundamental right in which the state has no power to revoke.

In the article commentary on “Gay marriages open gate to social stability”, the author outlines the issue from a social perspective rather than from the popular legal perspective. Samuel regards marriage as a conservative institution deeply embedded in civic and family responsibilities, which most unmarried couples do not face. He talks about how gay marriage was a salient and illegal topic in the past, in which most couples ended up not enjoying rights of inheritance or spousal health coverage as heterosexual couples do. In the late 1900s, homosexuals faced considerable backlash from the community. The discrimination is further mirrored during the AIDS crisis in the 1970s in which the virus was branded to be a “gay disease” (Freedman 30). However, the issue has evolved to the extent that gay marriage is on the brink of legalization in the U.S. The author recommends that the law should support gay marriage rights. Nevertheless, the proposal is being met by considerable backlash from moral and religious critics. Overall, the author concludes that similar to the freedom of worship and religion, gay marriage rights should be legalized.

In the “Ohio Defense of Marriage Act” article, Bill Steitz discusses the history, content and description, and law’s significance. The author has begun by mentioning the events that instigated the creation of the DOMA. Its inception is based on the Hawaiian Supreme Court ruling in 1993 on the Baehr v. Miike case that stated that prohibiting same-sex marriage would violate the Hawaiian Equal Protection clause (“H.B. 272: Ohio Defense of Marriage Act” 154). Therefore, critics in other states fearing the snowballing effect created the DOMA. Ohio’s DOMA is described to contain three sections, in which it generally recognized marriage to be the union between a man and woman only. Therefore, prohibiting homosexual couples from receiving the specific benefits afforded to heterosexual couples. The Ohio DOMA was far more restrictive than the federal version as it limited the extension of particular benefits. Furthermore, the Act was controversial as it nullified domestic violence charges against unmarried cohabiting couples.

Working Thesis and Working Works Cited page

Gay marriage rights in the U.S. should be regarded as federal law as it ensures that such couples are protected under the autonomy of the Fourteenth Amendment as compared to the various independent state laws.

Works Cited

Freedman, Samuel G. “Gay Marriage Would Promote Social Stability.” Gay Marriage, edited by Kate Burns, Greenhaven P, 2005, pp. 29-32. Gale In Context: Opposing Viewpoints, Web.

“Gay Couples.” Gale Encyclopedia of Everyday Law, 3rd ed., vol. 1, edited by Donna Batten, Gale, 2013, pp. 725-728. Gale eBooks, Web.

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“H.B. 272: Ohio Defense of Marriage Act.” Gender Issues and Sexuality: Essential Primary Sources, edited by K. Lee Lerner, et al., Gale, 2006, pp. 154-157. Gale eBooks, Web.

Urdan, Mathew S. “The US Supreme Court Will Likely Rule in Favor of Gay Marriage.” Gay Marriage, edited by Debra A. Miller, Greenhaven P, 2012. Gale In Context: Opposing Viewpoints, Web.

Annotated Bibliography

Freedman, Samuel G. “Gay Marriage Would Promote Social Stability.” Gay Marriage, edited by Kate Burns, Greenhaven P, 2005, pp. 29-32. Gale In Context: Opposing Viewpoints, Web.

This source provides strong evidence on how gay couples were discriminated against in history and the adverse consequences of victimization. Samuel Freedman discusses his stance on the influence of gay marriage on social stability. This article supports my evidence that marriage is an institution capable of promoting social stability. The author supports it by outlining the AIDS crisis in 1976 that was popular among gays. The relatively high number of gays suffering from the virus is attributed to the significant discrimination that such individuals faced, leading to improper behavior (social instability). Therefore, by legalizing gat marriage, the individuals will be more grounded, thus, enhancing their civic and family responsibilities. Therefore, all marriages between two people, regardless of their gender, should be supported by the law. Unlike other sources, Freedman’s article is unique as it evaluates gay marriage rights heavily from a social perspective rather than legal. Although the article was published in 2005, it is regarded to be credible and reliable as the author is a renowned scholar in journalism. Moreover, it can be viewed as objective as it comprehensively evaluated the importance of separating religion from the law. Also, Freedman uses personal real-life examples to explain his stance, therefore, making the article convincing.

“Gay Couples.” Gale Encyclopedia of Everyday Law, 3rd ed., vol. 1, edited by Donna Batten, Gale, 2013, pp. 725-728. Gale eBooks, Web.

This article explains the trend of same-sex marriages in the U.S. from the 1900s to the present. It provides strong evidence of the suffering and discrimination of homosexual couples over time, including the laws, such as DOMA, that were directed against them. In the 1970s, although gay marriages were taking place, they were kept as a silent issue. However, with the Supreme Court rulings on Baehr v. Lewin case in 1993, the problem was brought to light. It ignited a nationwide debate that led to the creation and implementation of the Defense of Marriage Acts (DOMA) that neither banned gay marriage itself nor required any state to restrict them. Over time, the gay marriage institution gained considerable support throughout the U.S., and several states legalized it. This source is comparatively distinct to the authors as it gives a detailed description of the path to the legalization of gay marriage rights from the 1970s. Nevertheless, the source’s credibility is questionable as it is more than five-years-old, and the author’s credentials were not mentioned. Yet, the article appears to be convincing and objective as the author takes the reader on a step-wise journey by presenting the milestones that were achieved at specific times.

“H.B. 272: Ohio Defense of Marriage Act.” Gender Issues and Sexuality: Essential Primary Sources, edited by K. Lee Lerner, et al., Gale, 2006, pp. 154-157. Gale eBooks, Web.

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This article provides strong evidence of how the DOMA and specifically the Ohio DOMA infringed on gay couples’ rights. The article discusses the events of the Baehr v. Miike case that led to the creation and implementation of the DOMA legislation in the 1990s, including Ohio. It also describes the various sections of the bill and their significance. As a result, it strongly supports my argument by highlighting the dangers of giving states the power to mandate the legal status of gay marriages. For instance, the author points out that the Ohio DOMA was more restrictive than the federal DOMA. Furthermore, the source appears to be different from others on the ground that it provides a comprehensive and detailed description of the hazards of giving the state authority to pass some laws. This was achieved by using the Ohio DOMA as an example. The source is regarded to be credible and reliable as it comprises legislation that was enacted and passed in 2001. The source appeared to be convincing and objective as the author discussed the impact of the Ohio DOMA using evidence from existing literature. Therefore, from the authors’ standpoint, it can be concluded that creating laws prohibiting gay marriage rights eventually has a detrimental effect on their rights as citizens.

Urdan, Mathew S. “The US Supreme Court Will Likely Rule in Favor of Gay Marriage.” Gay Marriage, edited by Debra A. Miller, Greenhaven P, 2012. Gale In Context: Opposing Viewpoints, Web.

The source provides strong evidence on how federalism’s concept brings about the clashing of the federal and state governments. It outlines the pending federal decision that the Supreme Court is to provide on same-sex marriage. The source supports my argument that the prohibition of gay marriage rights in some states is a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment clause. According to the federal government’s laws, states are prevented from denying an individual “liberty…without due process of law.” Forbidding gay marriage inhibits homosexual couples from enjoying specific rights, such as property rights and insurance coverage, afforded to heterosexual couples. As a result, this would violate the Fourteenth Amendment clause. The source proves more significant to others because it gives a picture of how federalism is intertwined in the categorization of gay rights under state or federal laws. It is most likely that the Supreme Court will legalize gay marriages in the U.S. as the advocates’ case is centered on the clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and federalism. The reliability of the source is supported by the recent publication period. Moreover, the source is considered to be objective as the author discusses the legal issues and the merits and demerits of affording the power of determining the legal status of gay marriage rights between either government. In conclusion, the author purports that the Supreme Court might likely rule in favor of its legalization.

Introduction

Federalism is a concept describing the political association between the federal, state, and local governments. Under the Constitution, the state legislature possesses sovereignty to pass laws as they deem fit. Nevertheless, under the “supremacy clause” in Article VI, federal laws supersede the former. The ambiguous language of the Constitution ensures that the two governments compete for a limited amount of political power. The battle to legalize same-sex marriage highlights the pros and cons of the U.S. federal system. It is essential to note that marriage is a license and not a right as it has not been addressed or written in the Constitution. When two individuals get married, they have to obtain a courthouse permit that recognizes the marriage and authorizes them to marry. The licenses fell under the jurisdiction of the states and differed from state to state, thus the issue of gay marriage. Nevertheless, literature has shown that prohibiting gay marriage rights has more adverse consequences (Freedman 30; Urdan). Consequently, gay marriage rights in the U.S. should be regarded as federal law as it ensures that such couples are protected under the autonomy of the Fourteenth Amendment as compared to the various independent state laws.

Supporting arguments

The Fourteenth Amendment clause limits the incapability of gay marriage rights being categorized under state law. Furthermore, until the federal DOMA was enacted in 1996, marriage was left to the control of the states. DOMA described marriage as the union between a man and a woman (“H.B. 272” 155). This was a clarification after the Baehr v. Lewin case, as in many states, marriage was gender-neutral (“Gay Couples” 1). The bill authorized a state to refuse same-sex marriage laws approved or prohibited by another state. Federalism permits every state to formulate its policies, impose bans, and grant their privileges. Therefore, like in the past, other states approved of same-sex marriages, while others prohibited it. The latter policies were in friction with the Fourteenth Amendment that prevents states from denying an individual “liberty…without due process of law” (Urdan 3). As a result, by banning gay marriages, these same-sex couples will not have access to the marital rights enjoyed by their heterosexual counterparts. Some of these civil rights include receiving tax and estate advantages, community property rights, rights to surviving children, and healthcare benefits and visitation rights (“Gay Couples” 1). This will inflict on their liberty as in the Fourteenth Amendment; therefore, this decision should not be left to the states. Furthermore, having incompatible state and federal laws will hamper court rulings and obstruct the effectiveness of the justice system.

Although it might be minimal, the effect of one state recognizing gay marriages and others denying promotes instability and uncertainty that would be felt by the whole nation (Freedman 1). Moreover, from a social perspective, marriage is inherent to the concept of individual autonomy, which is of unparalleled significance to committed couples. For instance, it is vital to safeguard the rights of children of couples in committed relationships that have been the cornerstone of the social order. The disruption of this order will not be felt at the state level regardless of its stance on the legalization of gay marriages but at the federal level.

Conclusion

In conclusion, if the issue of same-sex marriage is left to the states, some of them would probably recognize it, while others would not. This would violate the civil rights of citizens of specific states, as the state laws would conflict with the Fourth Amendment clause. Moreover, this non-uniformity will lead to the disruption of the social order that is pertinent to the functioning of communities. This adverse effect will be felt not only at the state level but also at the national one.

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StudyCorgi. (2022, May 14). Should Gay Marriage Rights Be a State or Federal Law? Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/should-gay-marriage-rights-be-a-state-or-federal-law/

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StudyCorgi. (2022, May 14). Should Gay Marriage Rights Be a State or Federal Law? https://studycorgi.com/should-gay-marriage-rights-be-a-state-or-federal-law/

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StudyCorgi. "Should Gay Marriage Rights Be a State or Federal Law?" May 14, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/should-gay-marriage-rights-be-a-state-or-federal-law/.

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StudyCorgi. 2022. "Should Gay Marriage Rights Be a State or Federal Law?" May 14, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/should-gay-marriage-rights-be-a-state-or-federal-law/.

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StudyCorgi. (2022) 'Should Gay Marriage Rights Be a State or Federal Law'. 14 May.

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