21 February, 2012
Legalizing Gay Marriage in America
Gay marriage should be legalized in the United States to give equal rights and freedoms
to every gay couple. In 1996 the Defense of Marriage Act also known as DOMA was passed
(Rafter), recognizing marriage as explicitly between a male and female. This sparked a national
interest in whether two people of the same gender should be legally recognized as married. Since
then the fight to equality has been recognized by society, yet few states have taken action. In
2012, only six states recognize a marriage between two people of the same gender (Conne).
Without recognizing these couples as married, the Unites States government is depriving
thousands of couples from basic rights. Not only legal rights that should be backed by the
constitution, but also emotional despair to these couples. Keeping gay marriage illegal has
created a national biased. Overall, there are many reasons why modern society needs to legalize
The battle to achieve equal rights for a marriage between same sexed couples begun in
the early 1970’s. During the 70’s many states began to first eliminate laws criminalizing same
sex behaviors. Such laws were known as “crimes against nature” and could be punishable of up
to 10 years in state prison (Rafter). Society began to see the unjust nature of forbidding anyone to
be together. In the next 30 years, many people sacrificed much of their lives fighting for equality.
Harvey Milk was the first openly gay elected official of the United States government (Conne).
He was elected in 1977 but was assassinated in 1978. In 2002, Anne Kronenburg told reporters
that Harvey Milk was "the most famous and most significantly open,lesbian, gay, bi,
transgender, official ever elected in the United States" (Conne). Unfortunately it has taken many
“Harvey Milk’s” to bring shimmers of equality for gay marriages in modern times. Because of
these civil rights leaders, the issue has become a leading trend today. The Massachusetts
Supreme Judicial Court ruled it unconstitutional to deny the right to marry tocouples of the same
sex. Although, this is a step in the right direction, many states still do not recognizes gay
marriages even though it has been ruled unconstitutional.
Currently in the United States of America, there are seven states that recognize gay
marriage (Messerli). The first state was Massachusetts. In 2004,Goodridge v. Department of
Public Health ruled it unconstitutional to only allow heterosexual couples to be married (Rafter).
Massachusetts became the 6th
place in the world to recognize gay marriages (Fredman). Many
claimed that allowing gay’s to marry would ruin the institution of marriage. In 2007 according to
the, Division of Vital Statistics at the Centers for Disease Control, Massachusetts divorce rate
had dropped nearly 23% percent since legalizing gay marriage’s in 2004.(Conne) Furthermore
the first five states that legalized gay marriage have the lowest divorce rates in the country
(Rafter). This perhaps shows that gay marriages would not ruin the institution of marriage.
Massachusetts, Washington, Connecticut, Iowa, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, and
Washington, D.C. have state legislations allowing same sex marriages (Christie). Although these
states recognize gay marriages, they arenot recognized by the federal government. Under
DOMA, no act or agency of the federal government may recognize gay marriages.
In 1976, the Supreme Court ruled interracial marriages fully legal (NRP). But before that
date, interracial couples were deprived over 1,100 rights and protections from the US
government (Rauch 142). These same rights and protections are currently not offered to same
sex marriages. Veteran’s disability is one of these rights (Sullivan 23). Even if an American
citizen serves in the US army and is wounded during his service and claims disabilities, that
citizen would be denied if he or she was in a gay marriage. Other rightsincludecustodial rights to
children, shared property, child support, and alimony after divorce (Sullivan 76). These rights to
establish a constitutional life style are simply ignored for any gay husband or wife. These lists go
on and on,joint parenting rights,domestic violence protection orders, joint tax filing, right to
inheritance of property, social security pension, and even the right to a joint adoption. Since
these rights are held from gay spouses, they have to spend an average of $467,562 more in their
lives on expenses (Smith).
On top of these expenses, the average gay family goes through many struggles while
trying to lead a normal life. If a gay married couple wants to file for adoption, under DOMA they
will be denied even in a state that legalized gay marriage,because DOMA is a federal act. It is
also a large fallacy that gay parents are unfit to raise children. In America, there are about 1
million lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender parents raising about 2 million kids. Good parents
are good parents, no matter their sexual orientation. When a Gay couple decides to become a
parent they put time and effort into preparing a perfect atmosphere for their newly coming child,
as compared to nearly 50% accidental rate of pregnancy in heterosexual couples (Rafter). The
children that grow up with two parents of the same sex end up normal. “approximately 67 studies
-- looking at children of gay parents and compiled by the American Psychological Association.
In study after study, children in same-sex parent families turned out the same, for better or for
worse, as children in heterosexual families.”(NRP) As it turns out a parent is a root of support,
and gay or straight a parent is a parent.
Society as a whole is concerned as to what would happen if gay marriage was completely
legal in America. For starts over $248 million will be added to New Jersey’s economy over the
next three years, creating 800 new jobs and adding $19 milliondollars in government revenues
(NRP).This is just in New Jersey; the financial impact on all of America would be huge. There is
also a huge need for adoptions in America. Today there are over 100,000 children in orphanages
(Messerli). Currently the gay population is the largest group adopting children over the age of
six. Normally heterosexual couples do not adopt children over the age of five (Messerli). The
abundance of orphans in America would greatly decrease seeing how legalizing gay marriage
would make it easier for gay couples to adopt. Allowing same-sex couples to marry “would give
them access to the social support that already facilitates and strengthens heterosexual marriages,
with all of the psychological and physical health benefits associated with that support.”(Conne)
Allowing gay’s to marry would ultimately help the economy, reduce orphanage rates in children,
help gay couple’s physiologically and mentally, and ultimately spread equal rights and freedoms
to every citizen in America.
In America today around 41 percent of the population strongly agrees with same sex
marriages (Rafter). After countless “Harvey Milk’s” standing up for gay rights, this battle to
equality isn’t yet won. The DOMA act is still in place, but states are beginning to change
towards equality, and this is the right first step for the United States of America. The road to end
discrimination took centuries for black Americans but in the end justice will prevail, and gay
Americans will be treated as equals. This national biased that has been created separating hetro-
from homo-, has taken time to build up. In years to come this biased will be broken and marriage
will be a commitment of love and passion between two people.
Carpenter, Mackenzie. "Post-Gazette.com." Post-Gazette.com. Gazette, 10 June 2007. Web. 20
Feb. 2012. <http://www.post-gazette.com>.
Christie, Chris. "Freedom To Marry." Freedom to Marry. 13 Mar. 2011. Web. 20 Feb. 2012.
Conne, Bill. "Gay Marriage Facts & Statistics."Gay Marriage.Web. 31 Jan. 2012.
Fredman, Joan. "Mormons in America: Certain in Their Beliefs, Uncertain of Their Place in
Society."Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. 13 Mar. 2008. Web. 20 Feb. 2012.
Messerli, Joe. "BalancedPolitics.org Pros and Cons." BalancedPolitics.org. 11 Sept. 2011. Web.
20 Feb. 2012. <http://www.balancedpolitics.org>.
NRP. "Same-Sex Marriage May Hinge On Supreme Court : NPR." NPR : National Public
Radio : News & Analysis, World, US, Music & Arts : NPR. Web. 31 Jan. 2012.
Rafter, Dan. "Civil Rights Respond." Human Rights Campaign.Web. 31 Jan. 2012.
Rauch, Jonathan. Gay Marriage: Why It Is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for
America. New York: Times /Henry Holt and, 2004. Print.
Smith, Kyle Z. "Washington Post." Washington Post. The Washington Post, 09 Feb. 2012. Web.
20 Feb. 2012. <http://www.washingtonpost.com>.
Sullivan, Andrew. Same-sex Marriage, Pro and Con: A Reader. New York: Vintage, 1997. Print.