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It'S Good To Be Gay And Marry

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The title of my essay might indicate that I am one who would personally benefit from the legalization of gay marriage, but the topic of this debate has little or no direct relevance to my sexual orientation. The pending decision does, however, affect my lifestyle, as I am friends with several gay persons, as well as their partner, should they have one. In her essay, "Gay Marriage, an Oxymoron," conservative, homophobic Lisa Schiffren claims that the basis for society to have developed and support the "institution" of marriage as we know it is for people to breed and raise children in the standardized and accepted fashion. Her claim is that gay marriages should not be legalized because it is too drastic a redefinition to society's meaning of marriage. More specifically, gay marriage negates the most essential element of legal marriage, the bearing and raising of children. She weakly attempts to elaborate her argument based on the following five grounds: religion, social reform or change, the importance of children in marriage, AIDS, and the fairness of legal benefits. I think that gay marriages should be legalized and feel that children have little to do with whether their parents are married homosexuals, are married heterosexuals, or are a married couple who simply do not have children at all.

Schiffren mentions how religion, specifically Judeo-Christian beliefs, is a key influence on society's moral norms of family life. Needless to say, the Church does not support homosexuality, and that is putting it mildly. Now, this may sound like a weak rebuttal that I am making, but times are changing and there is a notion of separating religion and state, not that this really changes how society in general thinks and judges any "odd balls." Do all the Judeo-Christians in America need some proof as an act of God to convince them why he suddenly approves of homosexual unions? That would be what we call a miracle. With a conservative President Bush in office, and a conservative Pope Benedict XVI, it may still be a long time coming before gays are allowed to be recognized as married couples. Regardless, with mayors who support gay marriage, such as Republican Rudolf Giuliani and our own Irish-Catholic Gavin Newsom, it appears that we may see the light at the end of this tunnel sooner than we thought.

According to Schiffren, what the supporters of gay marriage are asking of society is too much; the masses are resistant to become more open minded and less prejudice. Thomas Stoddard mentions in his essay, "Gay Marriages: Make Them Legal," how "the Supreme Court declared in 1967, [that marriage] is 'one of the basic civil right of man [...]. The freedom to marry [is] essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness" (551). The case he was referring to was the Supreme Court ruling ruling in favor of nationally legalizing interracial marriages, specifically between a black and white heterosexual couple. According to New York Times' Frank Rich, as he stated in his article, 'The Joy of Gay Marriage,' it is found that "though all polls show that only a minority are for gay marriage, that minority is still substantially larger than the one that approved of interracial marriage in 1968" (2). This shows that society already is more accepting of a radical change in the definition of marriage compared to society three-and-a-half decades ago. There is hope. Rich also declared that gay marriage is "going to happen, it's going to happen within a generation, and it's going to happen even though George W. Bush teed off his re-election campaign this week by calling for a constitutional amendment to outlaw it" (1).

Schiffren then goes on to say that children are an essential part of society's expectations of a marriage. According to her, raising children by society's Judeo-Christian standards is not possible between two women nor two men as gay parents. First of all, what makes this argument unappealing to Schiffren's general audience is that not everyone agrees nor assumes that children are the backbone to establishing a successful marriage. As Stoddard points out in his essay, if this were the case, "states would forbid marriage between those who, by reason of age or infertility, cannot have children, as well as those who elect not to" (552). Schiffren's feeble response to this is that society refuses to differentiate between the two "because it would require meddling into the motives and desires of everyone who applies for a license" (554). As Schiffren is a right-wing conservative, I am surprised that she does not urge the government to meddle a bit more in individuals' private lives, with all the temporary-scam marriages between foreigners without a visa and US citizens, i.e. the countless mail order brides from Russia and other Slavic nations to wed the aging American bachelors. Also, it seems that the government has already begun its meddling in the private lives of its citizens. There are numerous examples of Big Brother technological advances



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