Hunter, writing in 1991, described same-sex marriage as a possibility that "shimmers or lurks-depending on one's point-of-view -- on the horizon of the law" (p. 10).
Over the last fifteen years, homosexual's rights have emerged as one of the most contentious issues in American politics. Increasing number of friends and family members has "come out," interest groups in both sides have mobilized, and public officials have staked out positions. The current freedom-to-marry movement did not emerge until the mid-1990s, and then only in response to a conservative backlash in state legislators across the country, but individual couples have been applying for marriage licenses, been denied those licenses, and have been filing lawsuits for last 40 years. Families, communities, generations, and political parties have become divided. New issues have entered the political discourse that would have been unthinkable a generation ago, such as allowing same-sex couples equal marriage rights, the right to adopt children, or the right to serve openly in the militarily.
Consequently, one of the most notable observations about homosexual rights is the rapid pace of change that has occurred in both public opinion and public policy. Prior to 1974, the American Psychological Association has considered homosexuality a mental illness. No state protected gays and lesbians form discrimination until 1982 and no state specifically included "sexual orientation" in its hate crimes law until 1989. As of 2007, twenty states banned sexual orientation discrimination and thirty one made sexual orientation a protected category under their hate crimes statutes. Even more remarkably, same-sex marriage is now a legal in Massachusetts, and six other states provide equal marriage rights for same-sex couples.
This paper comprises two section; section 1 addresses a social welfare policy i.e. antidiscrimination laws and its impacts to the homosexuals community and section 2 of the paper discusses policy question that is whether same sex marriages be legalized?
B. Policy Analysis:
The policy I chose to examine is anti-discrimination laws. Over the past twenty-five years, a number of states have extended this protection to gays and lesbians. In most cases, the category of "sexual orientation" was simply added to existing state anti-discrimination laws covering other groups, and included protections in areas such as housing, public accommodations, credit, education, and employment. As of 2007, twenty states had extended the scope of these laws to cover "sexual orientation." In these states protection is comprehensive; however there are other states which only proscribe public sector employment discrimination.
Harm Caused by Discrimination and the Religious Correlation
There is no question that a significant portion of the gay and lesbian population has expressed having experienced some kind of discriminatory treatment in the workplace. Similarly, a significant number of CEOs have indicated in surveys that they would hesitate to give management jobs to workers who are homosexual (Kovach, 1994, p.1).
Policy Impact on Community
This policy had a very positive impact on gay and lesbian community. Over the period of time there is less discrimination towards homosexuals seen in the society.
The question this research paper addressing is; should same sex marriage be legalized?. Below is a detailed discussion on the supporter and opponents' views and arguments as well as different basic human rights and civil liberty rights.
Same Sex Marriage
The topic of same-sex marriage has created debate between its supporters and opponents as well as within the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) communities. The first, and perhaps the most popular opposition to same-sex marriage came from religious groups (Lahey & Alderson, 2004, p. 20); and not all LGBTQ individuals, especially those active during the gay liberation era, embraced the legalization of same-sex marriage.
In 1953, EB Saunders wrote an article in ONE posing the question of whether gay marriage was a good idea. He posited that the year was 2053 and that homosexuality had gained widespread acceptance, and then queried whether "deviates" would be allowed to pursue sexual pleasures with as little inhibition as they did in 1953, or if, like heterosexuals before Eisenstadt, they must be married to have sexual intercourse. Saunders worried that accepting homosexual sex without marriage "would loosen heterosexual marriage ties, too, and make even shallower the meaning of marriage as we know it. It cannot be seriously claimed that this would be a goodthing."( E.B. Saunders,1953) Saunders also worried about "what legal developments would come of the objection by the "Mr." that "Mrs." doesn't contribute equally? In heterosexual marriage, the wife has the general drop on the husband in that she bears children hence needn't punch a time clock as nature apparently decrees he must. Will there be a new law forbidding one person to be 'kept' by another then?"(Saunders, 1953) Saunders believed that "for heterosexuals, at least, there yet has been found a better arrangement on which to base the family unit. Heterosexual marriage must be protected. The acceptance of homosexuality without homosexual marriage ties would be an attack uponit."( Saunders, 1953) Saunders believed that homosexuality should remain a deviant practice, outside of both marriage and the realm of "acceptable behaviour," in order for it to remain free. For Saunders, the value of homosexuality resided in its free sexuality and household arrangements, a virtue that could not be extended to heterosexuals without disrupting society as a whole and could not be accepted by the mainstream without risking traditional marriage.
The opposition from religious groups is based on the argument that marriage is a religious domain and religious teachings condemn homosexuality. Their basic assumption is that same-sex marriage should not be allowed because churches should have as much authority as the legal system in matters of marriage. Another often cited argument against same-sex marriage by religious population is that the purpose of marriage is to create an optimal environment for child rearing. Rev. David Henry, a former host of Christian broadcast, stated that same-sex legislation will transform an institution of marriage that is meant for procreation and nurturing of children into the legal protection of the needs and the desires of adult relationships (White, 2005, p. A6).
Other critics rejected gay marriage simply on the basis of the intrinsic biological or cultural differences between men and women, and the ways in which this altered the utility of marriage. Most referred to children when they cited biological differences. Some opponents of gay marriage argued that "to adopt children, take out insurance on each other, set up bourgeois house does not represent, for them, a solution."( Herbert Gant, 1966) A marriage opponent interviewed by The Advocate echoed the idea that gay men and lesbians didn't need marriage since they did not have children: "The word marriage means bride and groom down the aisle. That act is a heterosexual thing, almost laughable in our situation. But that doesn't cover babies, cleaning the house, dirty diapers, sickness."( Charlotte Versagi, 1982) Others pointed more to the cultural difference in men and women that gay men and lesbians did not face. One journalist who opposed gay marriage indicated that "what holds many heterosexual marriages together is, I suggest, a basic male-female polarity, largely biologic in nature. Whereas in homosexual relations, although a polarity does exist, it is not ofthis obvious male-female sort, no, it remains a polarity of temperament, of interests, of character."154 This journalist eventually concluded that the inability to have children provided just one "certain way in which they are never, no matter how hard they try, going to succeed in imitating a heterosexual marriage."155 Similarly a social scientist who opposed gay marriage explained in an interview with the Advocate that gay relationships would always differ from straight for several reasons, including "sex roles. Males are socialized differently from females, and when a male comes into a relationship with a female, there are certain roles he assumes. But when two men come together, there may or may not be social roles. There will certainly not be gender-related roles: you sew, and shop and take care of the children, and I work in the garden and fix the car."156
Gay activists who opposed gay marriage rejected the idea of embracing a repressive institution for themselves that heterosexuals astutely seemed to be casting aside. In other words, they saw cohabitors as allies in overthrowing a marital regime that inhibited the free expression of love and sexuality. Journalist Hermann Stoessell wondered if marriage was the answer to homosexuals' desire for stability in their relationships, but quickly answered "the twentieth century heterosexual can reply to that question. He's abandoning marriage, at least of the 'til death do us part' variety. Should we pick up the remnants of a system he is casting off?"157 Similarly, Jim Kepner in the Advocate wrote, "I think it is neither an accident nor a sign of the failure of homosexual lifestyle that most Gays don't do that. Most of us (female or male, hetero or homo) weren't cut out for that straitjacket, and young hetero rebels…