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Debate - Same Sex Marriage - Con

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There are two complaints here. First, homosexuals don't have the same legal liberties heterosexuals have. Second, homosexual couples don't have the same legal benefits as married couples.

The first charge is simply false. Any homosexual can marry in any state of the Union and receive every one of the privileges and benefits of state sanctioned marriage. He just cannot marry someone of the same sex. These are rights and restrictions all citizens share equally. I realize that for homosexuals this is an intensely unsatisfying response but, regardless, it is a legitimate one. Allow me to illustrate my point. Bob and Steve both qualify to vote in America where they are citizens. Neither is allowed to vote in Germany. Bob, however, has no interest in U.S. politics; he's partial to European concerns. Would Bob have a case if he complained, "Steve gets to vote [in California], but I don't get to vote [in Germany]. That's unequal protection under the law. He has a right I don't have." However, the truth is that they both have the same rights and the same restrictions. There is no legal inequality, only an inequality of desire, but that is not the state's concern. The marriage licensing law applies to each citizen in the same way; everyone is treated exactly alike. Homosexuals want the right to do something no one, straight or gay, has the right to do: marry someone of the same sex. Denying them that right is not a violation of the equal protection clause. It is simply an irritation.

The second complaint is more significant. It's true that homosexual couples do not have the same legal benefits as married heterosexuals regarding taxation, family leave, health care, hospital visitation, inheritance, etc. However, no other non-marital relationships between individuals - non-gay brothers, a pair of spinsters, college roommates, best friends - who share those benefits, either. Should they be held under special consideration? However, if homosexual couples face "unequal protection" in this area, so does every other pair of unmarried citizens who have deep, loving commitments to each other. Should gays get preferential treatment just because they are sexually involved? The government gives special benefits to marriages and not to others for good reason. It's not because they involve long-term, loving, committed relationships. Many others qualify there. It's because they involve children. Inheritance rights flow naturally to children. Tax relief for families eases the financial burden children make on paychecks. Insurance policies reflect the unique relationship between a working partner and his or her dependents (if Mom/Dad stays home to care for kids, she and they are still covered). These circumstances, inherent to families, simply are not intrinsic to other relationships, as a rule, including homosexual ones. There is no obligation for government to give every human coupling the same entitlements simply to "stabilize" the relationship. The unique benefits of marriage fit its unique purpose. Marriage is not meant to be a shortcut to group insurance rates or tax relief. It's meant to build families.

Some say we shouldn't deny the freedom to love whom one wants to. In Massachusetts, an excited newly "married" lesbian celebrates, "Now we're not second-class citizens; now we can have a loving relationship like every other married couple we know." Her partner adds, "Anybody who is in love and wants to spend the rest of their life together should be able to do it." These remarks reflect a common misconception held by many people: Same-sex marriage will secure new liberties for homosexuals that have escaped them thus far. This will not happen because no personal liberty is being denied them. Gay couples can already do everything married people do - express love, set up housekeeping, share home ownership, have sex, raise children, buy property, receive inheritance, and spend the rest of their lives together. It's not against any law to do any of these things. Homosexuals can even have a real wedding. It's actually done all the time. Entire industries have sprung up from San Francisco to New York City serving the needs of same-sex lovers looking to tie the knot.

Gay marriage grants no new freedom, and denying marriage licenses to homosexuals does not restrict any liberty. Nothing stops anyone of any age, race, gender, class, or sexual preference from making lifelong loving commitments to each other, pledging to stay true until death do them part. They may lack certain entitlements, but not freedoms. Denying marriage doesn't restrict anyone. It merely withholds social approval from a lifestyle and set of behaviors that homosexuals have complete freedom to pursue without it. A marriage license doesn't give liberty; it gives respect. And respect is precisely what homosexual activists long for, as one newly licensed lesbian spouse makes clear:



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