ame sex marriages' has been a ubiquitous argument for critics, activists, and political commentators for quite some time now. While some critics choose to reflect on the religious and ethical stance of gay and lesbian marriages, Andrew Sullivan chooses to explore the political reasoning behind the prohibition of same sex marriages. The excerpt chosen for critiquing belongs to Sullivan's book Virtually Normal: An Argument about Homosexuality (1995), which highlights the author's personal opinion about gay's and lesbian's right to marriage, political opinions on same sex marriages, and the differences between liberal and conservative party's modes of thoughts and actions regarding same sex marriages.
Introduction of the Author
Andrew Sullivan, himself being of homosexual orientation and married, with HIV positive status, is a devout catholic and a 'conservative' political commentator. Andrew Michael Sullivan rapidly rose to popularity in the first half of the 21st century based on few of his controversial publications. Although the excerpt does firmly establish his point-of-view and beliefs to the readers, the content is slightly obscured, and to some extent, dramatized more than necessary, possibly due to his personal association with the topic.
Critique statement [thesis statement]
The excerpt is about the social and public status of Marriage in today's society and the reason why it should not be prohibited for homosexuals. Generally a term paper like this would educate the readers about either the social, or the religious, or the emotional, or the political stance on the topic. Sullivan's excerpt introduces homosexual marriages with an emotional, rather empathetic dimension, goes on to quickly eliminate religious reasoning related to the topic, and then proceeds to discuss and analyze the liberal and conservative political agendas on the issue. Such an arrangement of arguments causes obscurity, and makes it more difficult for the reader to judge the actual nature of the term paper.
The main agenda of the term paper is to tell the readers why homosexuals should deserve the same rights as heterosexuals. The author's agenda, according to the first few paragraph's of the term paper, is to propagate the similarities between heterosexuals and homosexuals, fore mostly on the issue of marriage amongst many other issues, as the basis for demanding equal rights and laws. However, by dividing and comparing homosexuals and heterosexuals, and dividing the authorities into liberals and conservatives, and comparing and contrasting on the differences between heterosexual approach to marriage and the homosexual approach to marriage the author contradicts his own basic agenda and casts himself as a discriminator. The author can highlight and present either the similarities or the differences, arguing for both the sides' causes some confusion on whether the author is writing for the discriminated or for the discriminators (Warner, 2000).
The term paper also points out the inability of heterosexuals to accept or consent to same sex marriages, which is baseless, unproven and irrelevant without qualitative or quantitative proofs. The author can either be emotional while approaching the topic by choosing to express himself, or be rationale while approaching the topic and presenting relevant evidence to prove his point. Sullivan tries to present his emotional opinions in a rationale manner, without any proofs which makes the authenticity of the term paper very questionable. Without relevant data to support his assumptions and beliefs it is difficult to determine whether the content of the term paper is solely his point-of-view or whether it contains facts along with his opinions.
The topic of same sex marriage has been widely discussed and deliberated over by various activists and supporters of gay-lesbian rights. Sullivan is right in his belief that marriage is a social and public union of two people who are committed to each other, and observe their lives together by legalizing their commitment to each other. Therefore two people should be allowed the right to legalize their commitment, regardless of their sexual orientation. Two people of the same race, religion and age are not restricted to marriage, then why should two people of the same sex be restricted from this social declaration of their relationship. Homosexuals should not be discriminated against based on their individuality or their personal merit.
Like Sullivan, author Peter Brian Barry (2011) in the Journal of Social Theory and Practice believes that according to the classic liberal theory the permission for heterosexuals to marry but the prohibition of marriage on homosexuals, causes unequal distribution of civil rights and benefits, and protections, and responsibilities, breaching the main principle of liberalism i.e. 'equality'. (p. 333-356)
Politically, religiously and legally marriage is considered to be an institution, while the author uses marriage as a symbol of 'belonging' to the society. Politically Sullivan argues that conservatives are reluctant in their acceptance of homosexual marriages because it would somehow lead the heterosexuals into taking marriage less seriously. However, in reality conservatives only worry that if the institution of marriage is altered for every minority in existence, it will at some point, be considered unnecessary, unimportant or inessential. The comparison of gay marriages to domestic relationships for benefits and legal rights is also irrelevant because domestic relationships don't always mean two people romantically committed to each other in a non-platonic relationship. The current political stand regarding domestic relationship is based on this very point. The journal article 'Conversation on Marriage for lesbian and gay people: introduction to lesbian and gay marriage roundtable' by authors Harris and Cole (2008) states United States have banned same sex marriages making it a part of state law, and therefore irrevocable. Harris and Cole (2008) was also skeptic of Sullivan's premature optimism regarding legalization of homosexual marriages. Regardless of Sullivan's preference of gay marriages over domestic relationships, or civil unions, the debate continues on whether same sex couples should be titles as being in a union or marriage. No matter what the title of the relationship, the current stance is actually related to the legal, social and financial benefits concerned with the relationship (Fish, 2005).
Sullivan debates that it is more important for homosexuality to be on equal foot with heterosexuality through the law, rather than homosexuality to be considered normal by the people. Sullivan's views are biased when it comes to the individual's development of sexual orientation. He basis the theory that homosexuality is an orientation, more than a choice on his own self. He proposes that his life proves homosexuality to be more of a social orientation rather than a personal choice. This theory in itself shows Sullivan to be very assumptive. He suggests that since homosexuality is an orientation and not a choice, no one should be sorry for being homosexual. This suggestion hints that Sullivan, if given a choice, would not be homosexual, just because homosexuality is not a choice. Or maybe that Sullivan was involuntarily led to being homosexual rather than choosing to be homosexual.
Although Sullivan is right in perceiving that gay marriages can make it easier for young homosexuals to come to terms with their individualities, he fails to address issues such as sexual confusion, and confusion about the appropriate perception of adult sexual roles. The excerpt also fails to address the issues of emotional and sexual development in children brought up by same sex parents, of legal issues relating to children of homosexual couples, adoption, juvenile legislation, child pornography, social influence on sexuality etc. He inadequately considers the statement, '…there is no evidence that shows any deleterious impact on a child brought up by two homosexual parents…' sufficient to support his point-of-view (Sullivan, 1995).
In his argument for equal protection under the law, Sullivan parts from the long-term consequences of his proposition. Sullivan should have considered questions like, 'What would happen, if gays and lesbians were allowed to marry under the law, had access to military, and yet were considered immoral, and/or abnormal by most people?', 'What if the government gives them this right to marriage and serve their country but the public demoralization continues?' After all homosexual community can protest against the government to change the law, but they cannot influence the thought process of every individual to suit them. Will equal laws lessen emotional subjugation, physical oppression, or unfair judgments of the society? Sullivan suggests that homosexuals will be warmly accepted if the government changes their attitude towards them, he suggests leaving the private sector out of the discussion. Leaving the private sector out won't make acceptance towards homosexuals easier, it will only work to complicate the scenario. It is well-known through history that private sector is more understanding towards minorities as compared to the government sector.
The excerpt reaches a conclusion with Sullivan claiming that, 'If nothing else were done at all, and gay marriages were legalized, 90% of the political work necessary to achieve gay and lesbian equality would have been achieved. It is ultimately the only reform that truly matters.' (Sullivan, 1995) Any homosexual and heterosexual human being can point out the flaws in this claim. If today Sullivan is taking a stand for gay marriages, tomorrow he would probably be protesting against gay…