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Phi 200 - Gay Marriage Debate in America

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Gay Marriage Debate in America

Karen Childress

PHI 200

Latasha Fleming

December 12, 2011

Gay Marriage Debate in America

They call it the happiest day of your life for a reason. Getting married is often the hinge on which every family generation swings open. You can debate theology, the divide between church and state, and the issue of procreation. However, what it all really comes down to is the primary institution of love. The small percentages of people who are gay or lesbian were born, as all humans are, with the capacity to love and the need to be loved. Yet the debate over legalizing gay marriage has continued for over 22 years (Sullivan, 2011). Exploring the politics, religious beliefs, and emotions of the gay population, we strive to solve the moral and ethical issue of legalizing gay marriage.

Is a marriage between two men or two women a beautiful thing, or a direct threat to American moral values? Is there any reason to expressly deny the right to marry, or would doing so open the floodgates to a morally decaying society? The issue concerning the right of gays to marry and obtain the rights that marriage offers is a very controversial topic. There are strong arguments on both sides, both in terms of the legality as well as morality of the issue. The issue is so divided that there is still no national standard. As of this point, there is no law that prevents states from granting full marriage rights to same-sex couples, nor one forcing them to declare it illegal. This issue has been left up to each state to decide on its own. Certain states, such as Massachusetts, have found laws denying gays the right to marry to be in violation of their state constitution, while others, such as Texas, have expressly denied the right to marriage (Nelson, 2007). Many argue that the legalization of gay marriage devalues the strength of the American "Family," while others believe that allowing the unions is the next logical step in an ever-changing world in an effort to be as open-minded and non-judgmental as possible. The issue concerning the right of gays to marry and obtain the rights that marriage offers is a very controversial topic. Title 1, Chapter 7, Section 7 of the U.S. Code, "the word 'marriage' means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife" (Title 1, 7, 2007). This, however, does nothing to allude to the vast amounts of economic and social benefits afforded by our government to married couples. Same-sex partners would fight to have this definition changed from "one man and one woman as husband and wife" to something to the effect of "two persons as life partners." Among the reported 1,138 benefits of marriage, some of the most important are the right to make life-or-death decisions, the assumption of social security for a deceased spouse, the right to mandatory visitation in a hospital or prison, and inheritance without a will (Johnson, 2007). These benefits, however, are not the only thing that the gay community hopes to gain. What they truly desire is equality. While the title of marriage will never truly grant equality, given that discrimination will always exist, it is a major step toward the overall acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle in America.

One of the largest and fiercest debates over same-sex marriage comes from the religious standpoint. Opponents of same-sex marriage argue that because same-sex couples are not procreational, a moral value strongly emphasized by religious communities, they should not be recognized. They argue that same-sex couples serve no purpose, and should have no place, in furthering our growth and ensuring our continuation as a species. Homosexuality serves no biological purpose, and exists only for physical pleasures - pleasures that center on acts of sodomy, which are forbidden in Christian-based religions.

Traditionally, marriage has been a government-sanctioned union between two persons in order to promote procreation. Same-sex couples cannot procreate, so they therefore do not qualify for the right to marriage and the benefits it provides.

Much of the debate over homosexuals and the rights they should be afforded, stems from the question of "Nature vs. Nurture." Is homosexuality a choice, or is it predetermined based on our genes? Two opposing sides have attempted to answer this question, both of which can cite adequate support to make their claims plausible. On the nature side, several studies have been done which correlate biological traits with a homosexual preference. Three of the most noted studies are the Finger Length Study, the Left-Handed Study, and the Cognitive Abilities study (Crooks, 2005).

The Finger Length Study shows a high correlation of lesbian women whose ring finger is longer than their index finger. This contrasted with the large majority of heterosexual women, whose fingers are approximately the same length (Crooks, 2005). The Left-Handed Study shows a high occurrence of a dominant left-hand in homosexual men. In comparison, a higher portion of heterosexual men shows right hand dominance (Crooks, 2005).

The final study shows that homosexual men display a higher aptitude in verbal and spatial skills when compared to heterosexual men. This is notable because these skills are normally found in heterosexual women. In fact, it was found that homosexual men's scores are much more in line with heterosexual women rather than heterosexual men (Crooks, 2005). As much as these studies would seem to prove an undeniable genetic link to homosexuality, just as many studies clearly refute that very claim. Behaviorists will show, through the studies of identical twins, that homosexuality is not genetic. These studies, done on identical twins rose in identical environments, "gave a concordance rate between identical twins of less than 50%" (Whitehead, 2007). These twins are 100% identical biologically, so therefore if homosexuality were truly genetic, should the correlation not be 100% as well? In the end, there have been no conclusive studies either flawlessly linking or refuting the genetic link of homosexuality.

This issue, however, is still very relevant because there are many individuals who are either against same-sex marriage or else on the fence that would realign them if homosexuality can be proven genetic. They would argue that if homosexuality was truly a genetic trait, and not a choice, then homosexuals must be afforded all the rights of the Constitution. They must be a protected class, just as race, sex, and skin color are and should not be discriminated against.

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