Same sex marriage isn’t unreasonable

Victor Hugg

The fight for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality is unquestionably the imperative civil rights movement of our time.

There are several important ongoing court cases to be familiar with: The infamous “don’t ask, don’t tell policy” is being challenged in a federal lawsuit, Log Cabin Republicans v. United States; with the majority of public opinion on the side of eliminating DADT, the discriminatory policy will hopefully go down in flames. Two other cases, Gill v. Office of Personnel Management and Massachusetts v. United States Department of Health and Human Services, are disputing the Defense of Marriage Act, wherein for the purposes of the federal government, “marriage” is defined as “a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word ‘spouse’ refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.”

Finally, there is perhaps the most well-known contemporary case concerning LGBT rights: Perry v. Schwarzenegger, which pertains to the constitutionality of Proposition 8, a 2008 ballot initiative that amended the California Constitution to ban same-sex marriages. Even though these cases are making good progress, we can do more to fight inequality by educating ourselves and discussing the issue at hand.

The Supreme Court of the United States ended all race-based legal restrictions on marriage in the case of Loving v. Virginia in 1967. In its decision, the court stated: “Marriage is one of the ‘basic civil rights of man,’ fundamental to our very existence and survival.” Indeed, there are certain societal values associated with marriages, including labels like husband and wife. The ban on interracial marriage was deemed unconstitutional by the due process and equal protection clauses in the 14th Amendment.

An individual’s sexual orientation is not a choice; same-sex marriage is perfectly analogous to the issue of interracial marriage. In both cases, the factor that is being used to prohibit couples from marrying concerns an attribute which no one can change about themselves.

There are no important differences in parenting or child development between families headed by two mothers or two fathers. It is having two parents — as opposed to being raised by a single mother or father — that gives numerous benefits including an increase in the child’s cognitive and verbal skills, an increase in academic performance, a decrease in involvement with high-risk behaviors and crime, and the facilitation of superior emotional and psychological health.

Gay and lesbian parenting is widely supported by a multitude of organizations, including the Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychoanalytic Association, the National Association of Social Workers and the Child Welfare League of America.

The American Psychological Association’s policy statement on “Sexual Orientation, Parents & Children” states that, “There is no scientific evidence that parenting effectiveness is related to parental sexual orientation: lesbian and gay parents are as likely as heterosexual parents to provide supportive and healthy environments for their children,” and that, “Research has shown that the adjustment, development and psychological well-being of children is unrelated to parental sexual orientation and that the children of lesbian and gay parents are as likely as those of heterosexual parents to flourish.”

Furthermore, the APA endorses same-sex marriage, stating that an ample amount of research supports the notion that denying equal rights to same-sex couples not only is discriminatory but can adversely affect the psychological, physical, social and economic well-being of gay men and lesbians. There is no evidence to support the idea that society needs to maintain marriage as an exclusively heterosexual institution.

Some social conservatives argue that the legalization of same-sex marriage will only put society on a path to allowing an individual to have many spouses or allowing immediate relatives to marry. This is a fallacious slippery slope argument, as there is absolutely no evidence to support these claims.

If two adults love each other and want to get married, they should be able to. Temporarily suspend the fact that marriage is a civil, not religious, matter: Same-sex marriage advocates are not looking to force their convictions upon the church; we do not want to make it a requirement for them to recognize the marriages. Each church will still be able to choose whether or not to recognize a marriage. However, by the same token the church has no right to influence government policy.

A 2004 report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office identified “a total of 1,138 federal statutory provisions classified to the United States Code in which marital status is a factor in determining or receiving benefits, rights, and privileges.” Until same-sex marriage is recognized both socially and legally as an equal right, this alarming disparity will continue to plague our nation. Support equality by supporting LGBT rights and the legalization of same-sex marriage.