In elementary school, young children are taught through social studies that we are free, and that our country was founded on the basis that all men should be free. Unfortunately, this is a very illegitimate view of our nation’s history. Beginning with the invention that only white, male, property owners could vote, and leading into the heart of slavery. While these issues are still current hot topics, another kind of civil rights battle being fought: the struggle for gay rights.
The facts remain that gay marriage is not recognized by the federal government, even if a state allows gay marriage. Many states do not allow gay marriage, but have instead set up something called a Civil Union. A civil union is not recognized by the federal government (Civil Unions vs. Marriage Belge), and does not transfer from state to state. The Gay community is currently involved in turmoil: they want marriage, not civil unions. The reason that the community feels entitled to marriage and not just a civil union is because a civil union provides a “separate and unequal status” for gays (Civil Unions vs. Marriage Belge).
If gay marriage became legal, and the 1,049 benefits of heterosexual marriages were also given to gay couples (Lambda Legal Defense), there would be quite a difference in their lives. Some of these benefits include things that are fundamental to society and the well being of others, including children. A federally recognized gay marriage would result in gay couples being allowed to file for joint tax returns, sponsor their spouse’s immigration to the US, and have joint insurance plans, joint adoption, and joint adoption and child support rights (Legal Benefits of Marriage Belge).
Despite the arguments for gay marriage, there is another group that feels just as strongly about the issue: those who oppose it. This group is fundamentally made up of religious fundamentalist, conservative republicans, and other hate spreading interest groups like the KKK and other racial/social superiority groups (Homophobia Bidstrup). While there is little evidence that teaching children about gay marriage leads to them living a gay life style themselves, this is one of the fundamental arguments of the opponents of gay marriage (What is Prop 8?).
The opponents of gay marriage cite several reasons for their stance on the issue. One of these reasons is that if gay marriage becomes legal, “teachers could be required to teach young children there isno difference between gay marriage and traditional marriage” (Ballot Arguments). Opponents argue that while they are not attacking the gay lifestyle, they feel that “gays do not have the right to redefine the terms of marriage for everyone” (Ballot Arguments). A point is made about the protection of children in public schools: opponents want to ‘protect’ these children from learning that “gay marriage is the same as a traditional marriage”(Ballot Arguments).
Perhaps the largest argument being proposed by opponents is that gay marriage would somehow disrupt or destroy the ‘sanctity’ of marriage. Sanctity can be defined several ways: holiness, sacred, or something sacred (Dictionary.com). This would mean that by protecting the sanctity of marriage, you are protecting the holiness and sacredness of the institution of marriage. In order to protect the sanctity of marriage, former President Bill Clinton signed into legislature the “Defense of Marriage Act” in 1996. This act allows each state to deny rights and benefits to married couples from one state that move to a state that decides to not recognize gay marriages. The act also redefined marriage at the Federal level, stating that marriage is “a legal union of one man and one woman as husband and wife” and that a spouse was considered “”a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife” (Defense of Marriage Act).
From these stated facts it can be concluded that marriage is believed to be a holy and sacred union between two people. The traditional sacredness stems from the presence of marriage in the Christian church. The Founding Fathers of the great U.S. Constitution call for a separation of church and state which has been upheld in numerous battles within the Supreme Court. In reality marriage has crossed the religion-government line. It is no longer a holy union between two destined souls- it is the union between two people that equate to numerous benefits from the Federal, and state level governments. This is a right that should be extended to all people regardless of religious tradition. It is no longer a primarily religious event; therefore the church should have absolutely no say in who is allowed to marry.
One person who has been adamant on their stance on gay marriage is our own President Obama. While his stance is somewhat unconfident, he has been outspoken on one thing: he opposes gay marriage (Obama Flip-Flop Cloud). Obama has said that he supports civil unions between a man and another man or a woman and another union, but he too believes in ‘upholding the sanctity of marriage’. To many gay and pro gay Americans, this is simply a blast from the past. The gay rights movement echoes the civil rights movement through and through. President Obama is either blind to the realities of the topic, or is being influenced by his religious background (Obama Flip-Flop Cloud). Being the first (half) black president, Obama was expected to see through the eyes of the persecuted, not through the eyes of unfair judgment.
While religion stands on the foreground as the first defense against the homosexual attack on marriage, it is not the only thing that stands for a more traditional view of a lawfully wedded couple. In most instances, legislature is quick to deny these rights to anyone. Logically, the American people can determine that religion is the Trojan horse of hate- that while those whom oppose gay marriage are citing sanctity and religion as the reason, it is actually greed that fuels their decision. As previously mentioned, there are 1,049 documented benefits for married couples. These benefits are funded through tax dollars, or government expenditure (Lambda Legal Defense). The government is not worried about the revenue that gay marriage would create- they are worried about their expenditures. The gay community is full of wealthy people who would be happy to spend a lot of money on a wedding, and from there perhaps even adopt and raise a happy child. This is due to the fact that many gay men and woman have an expendable income, in part because they usually denied the right to adopt (Homophobia Bidstrup). The government is affected in no way by sanctity or tradition. The government’s job is to uphold the constitution, not enforce religious tradition.
While the bans and lifting of bans on gay marriage is an extremely hot topic, it is nowhere near a new one. Homosexuals were one of the groups that were targeted during the Nazi Holocaust prior to World War 2, and throughout the 1940’s and the 1950’s police continuously raided gay bar after gay bar, prosecuting the sexual minorities that inhabited the bars (Stonewall Riots Wright). In 1969, in a small club called “The Stonewall Inn”, police did such a thing. They went into the club and started arresting and abusing homosexuals, lesbians, and’ trans’ people (this refers to a person being transgendered). Instead of their usual course of action, the people in the bar started to resist their arresting officers by causing mayhem. Bottles, coins, chairs, and other things were thrown at the officers. They responded by beating people with their bill clubs and destroying the clubs property. These riots began a new age of gay activism. Gay men and women from around the world began to assemble and demonstrate their need for equality. They did this with something called the Gay Liberation Front, and it is present in nearly all countries (Stonewall Riots Wright).
Gay and Equal rights rallies have been set up near June to mark the Stonewall Riots. Recently a new tradition has emerged in gay culture: The Gay Pride Parade. Despite the strides forward, equality has still not been won for the gay and lesbian subculture. One recent event changed the morale and the fight for rights: California’s Proposition 8.
Proposition 8 could be deemed the exact opposite of the Stonewall Riots. Supporters of Proposition 8 stated that the gay community “went around the backs of California citizens” and had “4 activist supreme court justices overturn the 14 words that define marriage.” These fourteen words are: “Only a marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California” (What is Prop 8?). Voters who marked ‘yes’ on the ballot for Proposition 8 were in agreement with the aforementioned clause to the California State Constitution. This would not revoke any marriages before the proposed clause became part of the legislature, but places a ban on any newly recognized marriages.
Proposition 8 was accepted by the peoples of California State as part of the legislature on November 5th, 2008. Several people have appealed the clause, but the Supreme Court of California has rejected the constitutional challenges presented (What is Prop 8?). It is a must to reiterate that the Supreme Court must not decide a matter based on whether they feel that the policy is right or if a law should be in place, rather it must interpret the state constitution “regardless of their personal views on an issue” (What is Prop 8?).
While Proposition 8 has been the most recent battle and loss for the gay community, many blame the loss on poor wording, negative campaign tactics, and the negative opinions from trusted politicians and governmental leaders, including President Obama. Supporters of Proposition 8 feel that they have won the right to protect the sanctity of marriage and their traditional lifestyle values (What is Prop 8?). They also feel as if their children are now protected from learning that same sex marriage is equal. This kind of ‘protection’ can lead to homophobia and feelings of self-hate from homosexual children who are bombarded with heterosexuality and the heterosexual agenda. While many who oppose Prop 8 feel the inverse: that the homosexual agenda is the one to be avoided (Protect Marriage).
Regardless of what clauses come into act or what amendments are made to the constitution, our country is still built on the solid base of freedom and equality for all. Echoed by the Civil Rights movement, the Gay and Equal Rights agenda may have to suffer even more loss before attaining equality. It seems certain that this debate will continue, and may become another violent and ugly mark across our Nations historical timeline. The opposite may also happen- the supposed “sanctity” of marriage could be ‘upheld’, and any further equal rights may not be given.
While civil unions have been extended to gays in most states, equality has not. The separate and unequal treatment of civil unions in comparison to marriage is evident. Despite the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender communities (sometimes referred to as the GLBT community) push toward action, it remains to be seen. The Civil Rights achievements for ‘equality for all’ have apparently only been awarded to blacks, and now the struggle carries on. What began with the Stonewall Riots and culminated in the Gay and Equal Rights Campaign continues today. Proposition 8 may have passed, but the morale of the community remains high. Supporters continue to dispel unwarranted claims of homosexual molestation of marriage as a sacred institution, and divorce remains as the biggest threat to the sanctity of marriage.
Note: The title of this essay is a reflection of many of the websites I came across calling the gay rights movement “The Faggot Agenda.” I believe this is an appropriate title because it takes the words that are used to create hate and shows that nothing can impact the rock solid successful paradigm of those who are supposed to be hurt by the word.
Works Cited Page-
Belge, Kathy. “A Look at the difference between Civil Unions and Gay Marriage”.
About.com. March 1, 2010.
Belge, Kathy. “Legal Benefits of Marriage.” About.com. March 4th, 2010.
Bidstrup, Scott. “Homophobia: The Fear Behind the Hatred.” Bidstrup.com. September 3, 2000.
March 14th, 2010.
“What is Prop 8?” whatisprop8.com March 14th, 2010
Lambda Legal Defense. Lambdalegal.org.
March 14th, 2010
Protect Marriage Action Fund. “Ballot Arguments”. Protectmarriage.com. 2008. March 16th, 2010.
Cloud, John. TIME Magazine. “Why does Obama keep flip-flopping on gay marriage?” . August
19th, 2009. March 26th, 2010.
Wright, Lionel. The Socialist Alternative. “The Stonewall Riots - 1969 — A Turning Point in the
Struggle for Gay and Lesbian Liberation.” July 1st, 1999. March 24th, 2010.