This essay gives some background material about same-sex
you might find helpful before you proceed to our rather large section describing SSM.
Two contrasting quotes to consider, two photographs to look at, and a You Tube video to watch that show the great gulf that exists over SSM:
- "It is legitimate and necessary to ask oneself if this is not perhaps
part of a new ideology of evil, perhaps more insidious and hidden, which
attempts to pit human rights against the family and against man." Pope
John Paul II, referring to same-sex marriage. 6
+ "A loving man and woman in a committed relationship can marry. Dogs,
no matter what their relationship, are not allowed to marry. How should
society treat gays and lesbians in committed relationships? As dogs or as
humans?"Anonymous posting to an Internet mailing list.
Consider whether either of the following photographs upset you, and why.
This is a ten minute video from You Tube. It was published on 2012-MAY-06, and has been viewed 2.9 million times by 2012-JUL-18! It will be made into a documentary film. It should be of interest both to those opposed to and who favor equal marriage. It has an important message to couples in same-sex relationships: that if they live in an area where they are unable to marry, they should attempt to legally protect themselves and their relationship as much as possible, even if the state considers them a "legal strangers" -- as mere roommates.
For some years, same-sex marriage (SSM) has been at the
top of any list of leading religious/secular/political controversies in North
America. It appears to have eclipsed even concerns over abortion access. Like abortion access, it is a complex topic, divisive, and not readily amenable to compromise. After
U.S. states either allow SSM, ban it, or do not allow it but recognize legal SSMs solemnized elsewhere. There really is no middle ground.
The federal government currenlty ignores legal same-sex marriages in accordance with its Defense of Marriage act (DOMA). That law is currenlty being enforced, although there are efforts to repeal the act, and numerous lawsuits to have it declared unconstitutional by the courts.
Any change, or threat of change, to the culture is distressing
to many people. A change to the structure of the fundamental building block
of society -- the family -- can be particularly upsetting. Also, any change
related to human sexuality can be profoundly disorienting.
At the present time, SSM has split the U.S. by:
Age: Youth and young adults are generally for SSM; the
elderly are against or evenly split.
Political affiliation: Most Democrats are in are favor,
Independents slightly less so, Republicans are almost all opposed.
Religion: Conservatives are very strongly opposed; religious liberal, progressives, and
secularists are in favor; main line denominations are split.
Geography: The northeast is supportive; the west coast is about
evenly split; the rest
of the country is against.
In 2009, the majority of American adults opposed SSM, except in about six states and the District of Columbia. However, the trend is
towards increasing acceptance. By 2010, the natonal level of support and opposition were equal. By mid-2011, about 53% of American adults favor SSM while about 45% are opposed for a margin of about 8 percentage points. If current trends continue, those American
adults who have an opinion on the topic will be increasingly supportive of SSM.
In early 2011, the Obama Administration recognized that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was clearly unconstitutional. Although they continued to enforce the law, they stopped defending its constitutionality in the courts. Some commentators suggested that this decision would create a "tipping point" that would speed up the trends towards marriage equality in the U.S. We have been monitoring such trends on an monthly basis. It would seem that a tipping point has actually ocurred.
LivingVote.org followed the debate over Proposition 8
in California, which -- by a very narrow margin -- terminated SSM in that state during 2008-NOV. LivingVote's visitors posted three arguments for and three against SSM which seem to
reflect Americans' main concerns nationally:
Arguments for SSM
Arguments against SSM
Dignity & respect: "The institution of marriage
conveys dignity and respect towards a couple that make a lifetime commitment
to support each other.
"Same-sex couples deserve this dignity and respect."
Religious freedom: For most Americans, marriage is a
religious sacrament or ceremony. If the definition of marriage is changed to
some religious individuals and groups feel that they will become at risk of having to violate their
beliefs by being forced to marry same-sex couples.
Equal rights: Denying marriage to same-sex couples
removes from one group a fundamental, important human right -- the right to
marry the person that one loves and to whom one has made a commitment. That is unfair
in a democracy.
Children benefit: Many religiously conservative researchers have found that children thrive best when reared in
a home with a married mother and father. Boys and girls have needs that are
uniquely met by parents of the opposite
Financial & security: Denying one group the right to
marry has many adverse emotional and financial consequences. Examples are Social
Security, Medicare, medical leave, and other benefits; property inheritance;
... and make medical decisions if
they are incapacitated; security of the couple and of their children.
Teaching about SSM: The role of marriage in society
is a major topic taught in public schools. If SSM is legalized, schools
would be required to teach that same-sex marriage is equivalent to
opposite-sex marriage, starting as early as Kindergarten. That would violate
the beliefs of many parents.
Our section on same-sex marriage is MASSIVE for two reasons:
It is the most actively debated religious topic in the U.S. today, having surpassed even abortion access in importance.
Eligibility for marriage has been defined by the individual states for centuries. Thus, the conflict for same-sex marriage is really 51 battles -- one in the District of Columbia, and one in each of the 50 states.
Most observers expect that same-sex marriage (SSM) will develop much as interracial marriage did in the 20th century: Over the next decade or so, a group of states will individually legalize same-sex marriage. Finally, a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court will declare SSM legal across the entire country, perhaps in the 2020's.