Same-Sex Marriage

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Same-Sex Marriage

Civil marriage is more than merely a commitment to love one another. It enables married couples additional financial responsibility as well as benefits. It is the institution that provides automatic legal protection for spouses. Prohibiting same-sex marriages is discrimination. Denying homosexuals the opportunity for a legal marriage is morally wrong. By denying them marriage, we also are denying the benefits that go along with a marriage.

According to the Legal Information Institute, the traditional definition of marriage is: "a contract based upon a voluntary private agreement by a man and a woman to become husband and wife." (Legal Information Institute website)

Why do people want to be married? Marriage is a symbol of being an adult and shows a status of social maturity. Marriage is a basic human right that should not be denied to anyone. People grow up; fall in love, and if they are lucky, they want to marry the person they love and live with them in fidelity and commitment for the rest of our lives. But for one group of Americans, it is denied. Why would anyone want to deny this basic human right to a group of people in our society who wish no one any harm, but wish to affirm the values of commitment and fidelity?

In the United States, marriage has changed drastically throughout the years. African-Americans and interracial couples were once prohibited from marrying. Just as the Supreme Court required states to allow interracial marriage, states should be required now to recognize the fundamental right of homosexuals and allow same-sex marriage.

B.A. Robinson lists the history of marriage in, Changes In Marriage: Past, Present And Future:

"In the early part of the 19th century, marriage was a legally sanctified contract of mutual support between two consenting non-Afro-American adults of opposite gender. Afro-Americans were prohibited from marrying." (Robinson, n.d.)

Afro-Americans were permitted to marry. The definition was changed to read, "a contract between two consenting adults of the same race and of the opposite gender." (Boss, 2002: 39)

In 1967, over the objections of many conservative folks, mixed-race couples were permitted to marry. The definition was changed again to be, "a contract between any two consenting adults of opposite gender." (Boss, 2002: 42)

For a few hours in 1996-DEC, in the state of Hawaii, over the objections of still another generation of conservative folks, gays and lesbians were theoretically permitted to marry. Unfortunately for gay and lesbian couples who wished to get married, the state refused to issue marriage licenses. Once again the definition was changed to read, "a contract of mutual support between any two consenting adults." (Boss, 2002: 45)

In mid 2000, Vermont created civil unions. For heterosexual couples, this will be a marriage; for gay/lesbian couples this will be a civil union. Both give the spouses the same rights, benefits and obligations; just the legal name is different. If they separate, they may go to state courts to obtain a divorce.

On November 19, 2003, the Supreme Court of Massachusetts has legalized marriage between two adults of the same ...
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