Why Negative Opinions on Homosexuality Don't Really Matter
Homosexuality has been a controversial topic as old as civilization, and adding marriage to the mix made it an even bigger topic to the point that it is currently under debate in our Nation’s highest court. Sexual orientation should never change the rights available to any individual, whether the right to vote or the right to marry. As a republic, our country is founded on the principle of individual rights; therefore, all individuals (including homosexuals) should have a right to marry any consenting individual they choose. A strong majority of opposition to the idea resides in religious ideology, something that has no place in American law, and fear tactics.
Equal Opportunity and Immoral People
Most people would agree that our government should give everyone equal opportunity unless there is a substantial risk of harm to others. This equal opportunity is independent of the moral or ethical codes of the individuals within our society; just because a person is an alcoholic (something most people would consider immoral) does not invalidate their right to vote or to free speech. Therefore, if society were overwhelmingly to decide that homosexuality is morally wrong, it still would not provide a sound basis to restrict the right to marriage. Some opponents have even cited that sanctioning gay marriage promotes (allegedly) immoral gay acts. This argument is weak, people have a constitutional right to publicly state immoral things, and corporations with (allegedly) immoral practices are allowed to form (e.g., pornography). Individuals should not have their rights limited or restricted just because an opportunity can promote an immoral practice (Rajczi, 2008).
Many opponents of gay marriage argue against the ability of gay couples to provide adequate parenting to their children. Gay couples have children independent of marriage laws; furthermore, peer-reviewed studies completely contradict this argument. Some studies have even shown a superior level of parenting skills among homosexual parents. Children do not grow up disadvantaged in gay households, studies show there is no developmental difference between them and heterosexual-couple raised children; to clarify, the sexual orientation and sexual identity of children is not at all affected by same-sex parenting (Patterson, 2005).
Universal Benefits of Marriage: The Greater Good
Marriage in general promotes many good things, such as health, safe sex, stable environments for children, and internally it allows easier medical decision making, tax deductions, and inheritance rights to name a few. These benefits are independent of sexual orientation. Opponents many times will say that allowing homosexuals to marry would harm the “sanctity” or “tradition” of marriage. In order for this to be a valid argument it would be necessary to show that the harm caused far exceeds the good. An argument made is that allowing gay marriages would discourage heterosexual marriages; even assuming the claim to be entirely true it still should not suffice to ban gay-marriage. Just because giving African American rights would discourage racists from going to certain places, does not make the rights infringement of minorities valid. The same principle of equal opportunity as long as no one is directly harmed, applies. As a counter example, homosexuals were recently allowed to openly serve in the military, immediately before the repeal of the Pentagon’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, many argued that allowing homosexuals to openly serve would undermine military morale, welfare, and discourage enlistment and retention of service-members, it has caused no negative impact, in fact, “…some people's Facebook status changed, but that was about it…” (Branum, 2011).
Civil Unions, Really?
The argument for Civil Unions instead of marriage is used by opponents many times in relation to gay-marriage when they say things like “Why does it need to be marriage if a civil-union would suffice for legal matters and showing commitment?” This equivalent to the “separate but equal” policies of the past, some facilities may have been equal but the discrimination, stigma, and negativity toward African Americans flourished. Only allowing gay couples to enter civil unions may solve many of the legal conflicts but would do nothing so appease the social need of homosexual couples, and there would forever be a stigma associated with those in a civil-union. The solution to this would be quite simple; the government would have to remove itself entirely from the “marriage” business and issue only union certificates while leaving the religion-implied “marriage” to the various religious institutions (Rajczi, 2008). Advocating a simple change in lexicon may seem trivial but for many people, psychologically, it can mean everything. Suppose we issued “birth certificates” for Caucasians and “Time of Life Certificates” to all other races, even if both contained identical information and authentication most people probably would object to such a thing even though it is only a trivial title.
Individual Rights for All Individuals
No “group” of people has rights, but individuals of all groups have rights. Even assuming the position that homosexuality is immoral, which it is not, that is no basis to disallow two loving individuals from getting married. Independent of sexual orientation people are moral, pay taxes, obey the law, and love. There is ultimately no social risk to gay marriage just as there was no social risk in granting civil rights to minorities. Homosexuals should not be treated differently; it is a shame that our society has done so for a long time. There will be a day, as current events suggest, in which the arguments presented in favor of gay-rights will seem obvious, and in which our society will be closer to perfecting the notion that America is a land of opportunity.
Branum, D. (2011, 10 25). Academy experts discuss effects of DADT repeal. Retrieved from United States Airforce Academy: http://www.usafa.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123275359
Patterson, C. J. (2005). Lesbian and gay parents and their children: summary of research findings. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/pi/lgbt/resources/parenting-full.pdf
Rajczi, A. (2008). A populist argument for legalizing same-sex marriage. The Monist, 91(3), 475-505. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/199379449?accountid=35812