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Marriage Is So Gay This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

What if your significant other was terminally ill, lying sick and alone in a hospital bed, and no matter how much you loved them and fought to see them, you were pushed away by doctors and nurses, unable to visit? What if the shiny ring on the fourth finger of your left hand meant almost nothing? What if you had to explain, over and over again, what a ‘domestic partnership’ or ‘civil union’ is? What if, in wake of a terrible and unforeseeable break in a serious relationship, you had no financial security? What if the United States, a nation founded on equality, went against its own constitution and didn’t recognize your relationship? What if all of this discrimination occurred because you happened to fall in love? Unfortunately, marriage discrimination happens every day, with same-sex couples denied the right to call themselves ‘married’ in forty-one US states (Eckholm). There is every reason to legally recognize same-sex marriages throughout the United States and no justifiable reason to deprive citizens of rights granted to their heterosexual counterparts. Same-sex marriage should be federally legalized.

Marriage is more than a label of commitment for couples. It is more than a reason to throw a party, or an excuse to buy a ring. It is more than a mere social institution; it is a bond of commitment and love and a promise to rights and benefits. Marriage benefits couples legally, psychologically, physically and financially. When two people get married, they are tied together in a way that officially and legally recognizes them as family. Unmarried couples, therefore, are not recognized as relatives under the federal law. That means that couples unable to marry cannot see one another in “family only” hospital and prison visiting situations. It means that couples unable to wed cannot make medical decisions if the sick party is incapacitated or unable to convey their personal wishes for treatment. It means that two individuals in a serious relationship who cannot be married because of sexuality-based discrimination can’t apply for joint adoption, receive fair separation of property in wake of the relationship’s end, or even live in “families only” neighborhoods—suburban areas reserved for families aimed towards creating kin-friendly environments. Although those neighborhoods are not usually keen about the idea of homosexual partners and are generally not a popular choice for gay couples, not having total control over where you live is a small but jarring affect of marriage discrimination. Only married couples receive the legal benefits of Social Security, Medicare, and disability benefits for spouses. Veteran and military legal benefits, like those for medical care and education, are available only for married couples. More legal marriage benefits and protections that are stricken from most same-sex couples in the US include claiming a marital communications privilege (meaning a court cannot force to you to share details of confidential conversations with your spouse during your marriage), obtaining crime victims’ recovery benefits if your spouse falls victim to a crime, being granted immigration and residency benefits if you are married to a non-citizen of the United States and the legal ability to sue a third party for wrongful death of your spouse (Doskow, Hertz). Marriage is also psychologically and physically beneficial to couples: married women are reported to, compared to unmarried women, have less job-related, financial, child-related and relationship stress (McDonugh, Walters, Strohschein). Married and un-divorced men are reported to have less experiences of depression, while married woman are reported to have less alcohol problems than their single counterparts (Horwitz, White, Howell-White). Divorced men have twice the rate of alcohol use than married men (Steinhauer). According to Dr. Lisa Waite, a professor of sociology who primarily researches family structure, “Marriage may provide individuals with a sense of meaning in their lives and a sense of obligation to others, inhibiting risky behaviors and encouraging healthy ones.” Marriage is even associated with a lower mortality risk: those who have never been married have twice the mortality risk than those who are married (Huie, Hummer, Rogers). Marriage is also a very positive financial option for those in serious relationships. Only married couples can take family leave from work in order to care for an ill spouse and bereavement leave in the case of the spouse or one of the spouse’s close relatives death. Wed couples can receive family rates for different kinds of insurance. Men that are married generally make twenty percent more on wages than unmarried men (Antonovics, Town). Married couples can fill joint income tax returns and create a family partnership under federal tax laws (this allows business income to be divided among family members). However, even if a same-sex couple is married and living in a state where same-sex marriage is permitted, the relentlessly sharp sword that is marriage discrimination still swiftly chops down, severing marital benefits from the couples that have fought for their matrimony. Because same-sex marriage is not federally legalized, the national government does not professionally recognize gay and lesbian marriages. Therefore, none of the marriage benefits under federal law apply to even the 25.7% of same-sex partners that have been married (U.S. Census Bureau)—such as the ability to file joint federal income tax returns with one’s partner, even if a same-sex couple’s specific state of residence allows for them to file taxes jointly. Despite the multitude of martial benefits and reasons for the 593,324 same-sex couple households to be married, same-sex marriage has not yet been federalized, and the mass of legal, physical, psychological, financial, and even societal—married people are 1.3 times more likely to volunteer for social services and average 1.4 times more volunteer hours than unmarried people (Keyes)—benefits are reserved, in the vast majority, for the heterosexually married Americans as of today.
It is not only unfair for citizens in homosexual marriages not to be granted the same marital benefits as those individuals in heterosexual ones, nor is it merely unjust for people in same-sex relationships to be unable to marry: it is purely unconstitutional for same-sex marriage to not be federally legalized. The United States of America was founded on the concepts of equality and justice, and is a nation proud to say that those notions, preserved and idolized in our constitution, are the grounds of our country and what we stand for. But how is not nationally recognizing same-sex marriages while unquestionably accepting heterosexual ones practicing equality? How is allowing any man and woman to participate in marriage but prohibiting most non-heterosexual men and women from pursuing that same popular institution at all just? There is no line in the Constitution proclaiming marriage a right or a privilege or a something-in-between, but there are plenty of avowals about the unalienable right to the pursuit of happiness and the importance of equality. In the case of Loving v. Virginia, a 1958 court case where a black woman and white man were put on trial for being married against Virginia’s ban on interracial marriage, it was eventually found that the freedom to marry is a personal right essential to the pursuit of happiness. The US Supreme Court stated, “Marriage is one of the ‘basic civil rights of man,’ fundamental to our very existence and survival.” “All men are created equal,” cries our Declaration of Independence. To truly satisfy this “immortal declaration”, as it’s been called, and live by our Constitution and the words of the Supreme Court, we must eliminate marriage discrimination completely. Yes, some religions are against homosexuality and/or bisexuality and therefore against same-sex marriage. But allowing that personal level of belief to play a part in the federal government goes against the Separation of Church and State and is itself unconstitutional: the Freedom of Religion is a right protected in the first amendment. The Defense of Marriage Act, passed in 1996, which prohibits same-sex marriage to be recognized under federal law and defines marriage as an institution for one man and one woman (Schwartz), goes against our nation’s proclamations of justice and equality. It has been found unconstitutional by eight federal courts.

There are millions of orphaned children in the world. At any given moment, an infant is brought onto the Earth. Unfortunately, parents are often unable to care for their birth child. At any given moment, the parent(s) of a child may face death, leaving their son or daughter to be put up for adoption. In Sub-Sahara Africa alone, there are more orphans than there are children in Ireland, Denmark, Canada, Sweden and Norway altogether. There are 68.9 million orphans living in Asia and about 5% of all the children in Latin America are orphans (SOS USA). With this many children in need of a loving home, one might think adoption would be easy, or that discrimination would be naught when it came to taking on a child. This is untrue: even with all the orphans in the world, adoption is very hard to complete—especially so for single people and same-sex couples. Federally legalized same-sex marriage would make it easier for gay and lesbian couples to adopt. There is no law against an unmarried couple in a domestic partnership adopting children, but these types of couples often have to wait longer for a child, expand their ideas about what kind of child they are willing to adopt, and can also find themselves biased against by adoption agencies (Irving). Same-sex couples are subject to yet more bias and adoption-related discrimination. Florida and Utah even specifically prohibit gay and lesbian people from adopting children. Some judges wrongfully use sexual orientation to find prospective adoptive parents unfit to raise children, usually saying that a child needs one mother and one father in order to be brought up well. In truth, same-sex couples are just as adequate as opposite-sex couples when it comes to parenting. Studies show that children of homosexual parents do just as well as children of heterosexual parents in every way and even have family structural advantages (Chang). Although most who do not grant same-sex couples the right to adopt children on the grounds of a child needing one mother and one farther do not challenge single parents, some studies show that heterosexual single parents’ children have more difficulties than those children with parents of the same sex, who reportedly do better in discipline, self-esteem, have less psychosocial difficulties at home and school, and are generally more tolerant of diversity (Perrin). And yet, marriage discrimination makes it even harder for fit prospective parents to adopt because of their forced marital status and sexual orientation.

Many people opposed to the federal legalization of same-sex marriage argue that matrimony is a sacred institution created and practiced for the sake of procreation. These people may argue that, because homosexual couples cannot reproduce without artificial insemination for obvious biological reasons, they should not be able to marry. While that argument makes sense in the fact that same-sex couples cannot have both of their own biological children, it is otherwise, to put it blatantly, outlandishly incorrect. People get married for reasons varying from that of producing offspring every day. Heterosexual couples that cannot or will not procreate are legally able to get married in all fifty states and have no stigma surrounding doing so. There is no law or even social obligation stating that married couples must have children. Childless-by-choice couples can be happily married and enjoy the extensive benefits of matrimony. George Washington himself—though being the first President of the United States of America and one of this nation’s founding fathers, fathered no biological children. Also, the world’s orphanages are nearly filled to the brim with children aching to be put in a loving home. Many married couples would be doing moral good and bravely lowering the amount of children in orphanages by adopting a child or children to fit their parental wants and needs instead of having their own. Infertile couples are able to marry, too. There are 1.5 million married women ages 15-44 that are infertile in the United States (Center For Disease Control and Prevention). Heterosexual infertile couples marry because of reasons like love, not prospective reproduction. They, unlike same-sex couples, can benefit from all the perks of marriage and have a higher chance of being able to adopt, if they decide they want children, than same-sex couples.

Gay and lesbian marriages deserve to be nationally recognized and we, as a country, should fight for our fellow citizens’ right to pursue marriage. It is not brave to stand up to this oppression. It is not noble to advocate federally legalizing same-sex marriage. It is not radically righteous to desire an end to this prejudice. It is simply morally decent to campaign for equality. It is not drastically excellent but only humanly wholesome to recognize that marriage is advantageous both personally for domestic couples and in societal ways, that marriage discrimination is wrong and unconstitutional, and that some of the millions of orphaned children can be put in loving homes once this injustice is righted. After all, love is love. As Hendrik Hertzberg said, “Marriage should be between a spouse and a spouse, not a gender and a gender.”



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This article has 3 comments. Post your own now!

CDHLegend said...
Feb. 4, 2013 at 2:58 pm
Great post!
 
Desmothenes L. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Feb. 3, 2013 at 2:41 pm
You are absolutely right and I hope that more people read this. I think that its also important to say that as a Christian, we don't hate gay people. only a select few outspoken radical churches do which gives christians a bad name. Its quite a controversy in fact in the christian community about  gay marriage. The new wave of christians are definetly more open and understanding. Sorry for bringing religion into this, but I feel like its necessary to bring up. Love is exponential and ha... (more »)
 
Teacher Lady said...
Jan. 30, 2013 at 9:21 am
I am so proud of my student, eloquently expressing her concerns on this topic. Way to go! 
 
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