In 1996, the idea of same-sex marriage was acceptable to a small 27% of Americans surveyed by Gallup. Nearly two decades later, a survey done by The Washington Post shows that the amount of U.S. citizens in favor of same-sex marriage has more than doubled to an astounding 61%. Researchers contribute this staggering difference to the rapid cultural change the nation has experienced coupled with the evident presence of homosexuality in modern culture. As the tide for marriage equality rises, many conservative advocates are biting their nails as the Supreme Court prepares to rule, as majority insists, in favor of same-sex marriage. While the controversy heats up many cannot help but wonder: Should and will gay marriage be the law of the land?
In Kevin Eckstrom’s article “Five Reasons Why Gay Marriage Is Winning,” the author presents logical points as to why conservative activists have ceased to have the upperhand in the battle for marriage equality.
Eckstrom’s leading reason he believes gay marriage is on its way to legalization across the United States of America is the rapid cultural shift the country has been experiencing for the previous several decades. He notes how religious organizations have taken a step towards legality with an election of an openly gay Episcopal bishop while Presbyterians and Lutherans voted to allow gay clergy. Furthermore, Eckstrom reminds the audience that even Pope Francis has asked, “Who am I to judge?” regarding gay relationships.
Eckstrom considers President Barack Obama being an ally for gays marriage advocates in the controversy by ending the 17-year Don’t Ask/Don’t tell ban on gays and lesbians in the military. Even more significant, Obama’s justice department dropped its guard over the ’96 Defense of Marriage Act, dubbing it unconstitutional. Eckstrom lists statistics regarding the religious side of the controversy, stating that in 2004 support for gay marriage was only in the low 30th percentile, but that a decade later it was in the 55th percentile.
James Kellard’s writing“Gay Marriage Should Be Legal,” lists many conservative reasonings as to why gay marriage should be illegal, then puts the reasons to rest using logic and his own personal reasoning on why he finds the said articles outlandish.
Many opposers of gay marriage have argued that allowing homosexual couples to wed will damage the institution of marriage itself. Kellard seemingly laughs at this idea and notes that historically, marriage was a way for men to make women their property and even royal families married their children off to powerful families to gain benefits from the marriage. Also, according to Kellard, statistically, the institution of marriage is already damaged because the divorce rate in the United States is currently over 50%.
Those arguments aside, Kellard brings up a larger reason behind the opposition: religion. He then tells how although the constitution guarantees the freedom to worship however one pleases, it does not give the right to force others to conform to their personal beliefs. The author boldly states, “None of us have a monopoly on morality.”
Kellard closes his argument with a reflection on past social issues in the U.S. and how the nation has seen previous issues as a forthcoming destruction of society but the nation has always prevailed and become a better country because of it. Unshaken that marriage equality will also prevail, he tells how it truthfully comes down to letting consenting adults do as they wish and respecting others beliefs and lifestyles.
The arguments Kellard correlate with the article “Five Reasons Why Gay Marriage Is Winning” by Eckstrom in a few aspects. Both authors suggest the influence of religion in their arguments as Eckstrom states why religion is in the movements favor and Kellard shames the use of religion as an opposition. Each articles is adamant; despite efforts, allowance of gay marriage is the morally correct action to take.
Kellard and Eckstrom are a mere couple of those who stand with their conscience in the situation. In his writing, “Marriage: Religious Rite or Civil Right?” Austin Cline argues that marriage is not a religious subject and is a social contract; therefore, the argument of gay marriage infringing upon religious freedoms is “understandable, but it’s also incorrect.” Cline fuels this argument by comparisons between marriage in the time frame of the early United States (Revolutionary Era) and marriage in a modern time period then ices the cake, saying religion is not “needed or necessarily relevant” regarding the debate of same-sex marriage.
Cline introduces the concept of a common belief of marriage being a religious rite by noting how conservative adovcates argue legalizing gay marriage is sacrilegious and intrudes on first amendment rights because marriage is a religious matter. The author then begins to contradict this belief by stating that “the nature of marriage has varied so much that it is difficult to come up with any one definition of marriage.” Following the footsteps of Kellard, Cline claims that the variety of marriage throughout time proves falsehood to the religious claim on marriage.
Citing author Nancy F. Cott’s book “Public Vows: A History of Marriage and the Nation”, Cline states that marriage has always been treated as a private contract with public implications rather than a religious rite. This meant that a marriage could not be broken without offending the community, law, or state as much as offending the spouse. Cline says this is valid because it means the basis of marriage was not in fact religion, but rather agrees with Kellard that marriage is relevant to the desires of free and consenting adults.
Cline then cites that in the book “Gay Marriage,” author Jonathan Rauch insists that marriage is much more than simply a private contract. Cline quotes Rauch’s views on marriage saying that it is a way of couples being recognized by the community, as a bonded pair. He says it gives a special autonomy that only marriage can convey. Cline uses this research to relate to the argument that prohibiting gay marriage robs couples of certain rights that help couples care and support each other. Together, these points help express Cline’s standing that the importance of being a spouse changes your status in the community.
Cline concludes his argument by restating that marriage in the United States is in fact a contract that has more obligations than rights. He is adamant that marriage exists because it is desired and that communities ensure it because it is what helps people survive and says again that at no point is religion “needed or necessarily relevant.”
These arguments by Cline relate the writing by Kellard because Cline’s arguments support Kellard’s insistence that religion is not a valid argument against gay marriage. Cline’s debating also corresponds with Eckstrom’s reasons for legalizing same-sex marriage because the arguments Cline gives regarding the cultural shifts America has experience in a long period of time correlates with Eckstrom’s point of the cultural shift in a short span of time, stating that both shifts have changed the view on marriage. Lastly, Eckstrom and Cline are in agreeance that marriage is a contract: a marriage license is received at a “courthouse not the church,” said Eckstrom.
Following up the mention of courthouses, in Jeffrey Rosen’s article, “The Laughable Argument Against Gay Marriage,” the writer focuses his reasoning against a common argument opposing same-sex marriage used in California’s Proposition 8. Attempting to show his belief that the specific argument of the need for couples to procreate as absurd, Rosen cites court cases and notable political figures in his claims.
The article is now outdated, written in March of 2013 following the controversy of California’s Proposition 8, but the argument is still present in 2015. Rosen gives an introduction into Prop. 8 and notes Justice Elena Kagan’s shock that the main argument advocates of the proposition had was “the State’s principal interest in marriage is in regulating procreation.” Rosen quotes Kagan’s thought provoking statement, “Suppose a State said that, ‘Because we think that the focus of marriage really should be on procreation, we are not going to give marriage licenses anymore to any couple where both people are over the age of 55.’ Would that be constitutional?” The author implies that idea of marriage equality encouraging monogamy and responsible procreation is found unfathomable by himself, who insists that the real reasoning behind Proposition 8 is simply moral disapproval and the desire to maintain tradition.
According to Rosen, moral disapproval and the desire for tradition have both already been found unconstitutional by two court cases: the 1996 Virginia Military Institute Case where Justice Ginsburg held that “maintaining tradition for its own sake is not a constitutionally permissible goal” and in the Lawrence vs. Texas case, where Justice Anthony Kennedy, as Kellard and Cline both assumed, held that “moral disapproval is not a legitimate justification for a law” either. When the Supreme Court does have to confront the gay marriage ordeal, Rosen says that they’ll have to meet the argument with what legal scholar Charles Black once called “the sovereign prerogative of philosophers” which Rosen says is, in fact, laughter.
Rosen’s claims correlate with the arguments presented in all previous articles, specifically with that of Cline and Kellard’s assertions that religion (as Rosen would use “moral disapproval”) is not a valid reason for the outlawing of gay marriage; however, Rosen’s article is more heavily focused on the topic of the sincere moral beliefs he holds.
Morality is further discussed in Joel Geiderman’s article, “Gay Marriage: A Matter of Conscience,” he discusses why he, a publically identified Republican, changed his opinion on the controversy of same-sex marriage due to the immorality he finds behind the oppositions towards the idea. Geiderman states that in the human sphere of rights each person will come to time where they must stand up for what is just and fair for it is not solely the responsibility of leaders but “arguably the moral duty of every human being in any society, to take a stance on issues of conscience.” Geiderman then declares his support for gay marriage then delves into the reasons why.
Geiderman argues that Republicans are playing a losing hand due to the public attitude shifting and an astonishing 73% of voters aged 18-29 favor legalization of same-sex marriage. He notes arguments from his Republicans friends who reason many things such as “You can’t redefine a word.” and “This will undermine ‘traditional marriage’” or “I’m all for civil unions but not marriage.” All of these reasons Geiderman claims sound logical, but are not.
Rebutting arguments of same-sex marriage crippling the institution of marriage itself, stating similarly to Kellard and Cline’s writings that “traditional marriage” has not been upheld in recent times by heterosexual couples anyways saying that couples cohabitate before tying the knot, they divorce, and many remarry, some repeatedly do so.
Geiderman then brings to light that while Americans seem to be under the impression that gay marriage is an idea unique to their own country, it is legal in more than ten countries and in some areas of other nations. Plainly, Geiderman states that he does not see how gay marriage will in any way damage his own assumingly heterosexual marriage. He questions how it would do so asking “Which right will I lose? Why is something that is allowed for me denied to someone else? Where is the concept of fairness in all this?” Geiderman ends his reasoning with the hope that his fellow Republicans and party leadership will see the issue in the light that he has seen and heeds that, “Abstaining from an important moral issue is not a choice.”
Geiderman’s points focus solely on his own morals, which compliments the discussions by Rosen and Cline that “moral disapproval” is no longer a valid assertion in the controversy. Another author who has similar perspective is Kellard, who is also adamant that the institution of traditional marriage is already damage. Geiderman makes a small note to the cultural shift the United States has been experiencing, correlating his argument with that of Eckstrom and Cline who are also in agreeance that the cultural shifts occurring are in fact giving conservatives a losing hand.
Playing off of the statement that the United States would not be the first to accept gay marriage, anthropologist Robert Launay’s article “Is Same-Sex Marriage Anything New?” shows there is evidence that gay marriage was accepted in civilizations prior to the Netherlands legalization of same-sex marriage in 2001 is discussed by the author — who himself is a credible source. Launay notes what brings his inspiration for the article that is Justice Antonin Scalia’s question regarding whether or not any society prior to the Netherlands had permitted marriage between the same gender.
Launay then begins citing societies well-known to anthropology but unbeknown to society who practiced same-sex relationships. His first noted society is the Nuer of South Sudan, who Launay says permitted marriage between two women. This would occur mainly when a woman came into wealth of her own and would then marry another woman to produce heirs for her – the biological father was irrelevant in this situation. Launay then discusses the Navajos, a Native American tribe. According to the author, the Navajos society had members known as “nadleehi” that were men dressed in women’s attire and even performed women’s occupations. The author goes as far to cite the Bible making note of the levirate, which was the obligation of a man to marry the wife of his deceased brother or cousin and bear heirs in the fallen’s name if they had not produced one before their passing. Using this as a passage to his next point, Launay then questions Justice Anthony Kennedy’s assertion that marriage has been the same for “over a millenia.”
Launay claims that most Christians, Jews, or Muslims could tell you that the institution of marriage has changed drastically over the last few thousands of years. The author states clearly, “The notion that a single paradigm of marriage is a human universal, or even historically constant within our own tradition, is easily refuted.” Launay clarifies that his statement by no means denotes that anything goes, but that his claim is that the concept of marriage has always been something, “culturally and historically variable.” Launay’s final argument is that same-sex marriage is religiously objectionable by a piece of the American population, as is eating meat to some religions, but it would not be fair to impose vegetarianism on the people based on a religious ground.
This article by Launay is relatable with the arguments of several previously discussed authors. Regarding the claim that religion is an invalid argument in the controversy regarding same-sex marriages, Cline and Kellard both claim that moral disapproval is ironically not morally correct at all. All three authors feel that using religion as reasoning is unfair and unconstitutional. Launay is also in consensus with articles by Geiderman, Eckstrom, and Cline, all four authors making a clear claim regarding cultural and societal evolution.
Proving a cultural shift to be present, “How Pop Culture Changed The Face Of The Same-Sex Marriage Debate” by Angela Watercutter argues exactly what the title suggests — the apparent impact of pop culture on the widespread controversy regarding gay marriage. Watercutter uses many examples of celebrities and television shows who shamelessly put the limelight on LGBT community members. This article, written in 2013, uses credible statistics to back Watercutter’s opinion.
Watercutter begins her argument by asking the reader to consider the fact that in 2008 a survey by Harris Interactive showed that 20% of the 2,000 surveyed had changed their opinion on gay marriage to a more favorable one just in the previous five years. The author then notes that 34% were influenced by seeing a gay or lesbian character on television, — 29% said it was from a film — but she concludes that although these reasons may not have directly influenced the SCOTUS to strike down the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, it at least played a part.
The author begins to cite specific television shows who have consistent LGBT characters in their acts such as Friends, Roseanne, Grey’s Anatomy, Will & Grace, and Modern Family then makes a very special note regarding the impact of TV personality Ellen Degeneres. In 1997, Degeneres openly came out on her TV show only to see the talk show canceled shortly after, then reemerging to make her an iconic gay in pop culture.
Watercutter cites another survey conducted by Hollywood Reporter that showed 27% of respondents had shifted views in reaction of TV shows such as Glee and only 2% said these shows made them less in favor of same-sex marriage. The author asks the reader to consider the Vice President who in 2012 nonchalantly pointed towards the impact of LGBT television characters being a starting point for a significant shift in opinion and understanding towards gays and lesbians. Watercutter mentions Jay-Z and other hip-hop artists who are open supporters of the gay marriage movement regardless of the general perception of homophobia amongst the genre and notes rapper Frank Ocean who opened up about a previous love for a male to a highly positive response. Another uncommonly noted supporter of gay marriage is the comic book industry, according to Watercutter, that has began to feature homosexual characters in the plots of popular comics such as Batwoman.
In conclusion, Watercutter gives a final statistic that 4.4% of scripted characters on television in 2008 were LGBT, a 1.1% rise from the year before. She says that she understands the easy access to such television shows via Hulu and Netflix most likely did not influence the striking down of Proposition 8 in California, but Watercutter says the court can know the public will understand their ruling better than they would have two decades ago because gay marriage is everywhere in pop culture.
This article by Watercutter has a solid connection to a claim by Eckstrom that people are more accustomed to seeing LGBT characters in the media and he makes up for Watercutter’s lacking mention of the religious leaders who have openly stated their sexual preference. Watercutter’s argument correlates with Cline, Geiderman, Launay, and again with Eckstrom regarding the many cultural changes society has experienced and how these shifts have positively influenced the push for same-sex marriage legality.
This controversy of same-sex marriage sparks many questions about the United States. One could question if legalizing marriage for homosexual couples would be an infringement upon the First Amendment Rights of religions practiced in the states, or if banning same-sex marriage is discarding rights promised to gays. As far as researchers and advocates are concerned, it seems that the question of gay marriage is no longer a matter of if it will be legal, but when it will be legal. The debate brings concerns and questions. Would same-sex marriage breed corruption among the people of the United States? If gay marriage is legalized, will other marriages that are frowned upon, such as multiple spouses, be advocated?
The arguments presented conclude that the majority of citizens are in favor of marriage equality, and these arguments offer valid reasoning as to why such as a change in culture bringing about acceptance of gays with their apparent appearance in the media and the immorality of denying the privilege to a large quantity of the population for fear of corruption to the concept of marriage between a man and woman, which is an institution seemingly damaged before the controversy became a popular topic of debate. These authors press the audience to take their opinions into mind and beg the reader to ask themselves the questions: Should and will gay marriage be the law of the land?