In the United States of America, the Declaration of Independence affords every citizen the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Amidst a vast document declaring sovereignty, these are unalienable rights with the purpose of allowing true freedom. To be more specific, The United States court has also acknowledged marriage to be a fundamental right without the distinction of gender.
There has been a back and forth discussion for decades on the topic of same sex marriage, arguably mainly due to religious reasons. In the face of religious arguments stands the fact that people living in the US are legally protected equally. It’s worth mentioning that participants of same sex marriages are people, contrary to a small but existent percentage of people. Because marriage is a common goal for young Americans as well as being the most important relationship, I’ll be outlining a debate on whether same-sex marriage should be available.
- The United States supreme court has, on multiple occasions, ruled marriage a fundamental right.
- The constitution states that citizens are protected equally under the laws of the United States.
- Same sex couples are people with the same rights as heterosexual couples.
- Legal marriage should be available for same-sex couples.
While there is much debate surrounding the language of laws, the reach of the supreme court, and the interpretation of the constitution, there is much less room to argue when the courts uphold a law time and time again. The United States supreme court has upheld the institution of marriage to be a fundamental right over 14 times (source 4). With such strong support from the judicial branch, there is little to be said in retaliation. What the constitution does not include, however, is a definition of marriage.
There is a vocal minority of people who believe that marriage is outright defined as a union between heterosexual couples, but the founding fathers and framers did not have that stipulation outlined. According to the supreme court, marriage is “essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men” (source 4). With the rulings of the supreme court and the support of the constitution, it’s difficult to disbelieve the fact that marriage is a fundamental right, and because of the language of the constitution, there are no specifications on who can marry who.
The constitution of the United States of America is often referred to as the supreme law of the land. The 14th amendment states, “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” (source 1) There was a lot of debate surrounding the legality of same-sex marriage. Some claimed that while marriage may have been a right, it was to be between a man and a woman.
There was proposed legislation dubbed the Defense of Marriage Amendment (DOMA) which was an effort to define marriage to be solely heterosexual (source 2). This was struck down and did not end up passing, and in June of 2015 (source 3), the supreme court upheld same sex marriage by the contents of the 14th amendment. Due to the supreme court upholding same sex marriage and striking DOMA down, you can argue that the law is in favor of same sex marriage. It has been deemed unconstitutional to refuse couples of the same sex the right to marriage.
A common argument against same sex marriage is often with regards to religious beliefs. Many people believe that their higher being has disdain towards same sex marriage and refer to it as sin. There has always been a constant battle between different sects of religions that want the laws of the land to bend to the will of their religion. The founding fathers knew this would be an issue, as the American colonists were originally settling to escape religious persecution. Because of this, the first amendment of the bill of rights states, ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,” (source 1)
For this reason, the argument of religion against same sex marriage does not bear weight. If the constitution mentioned the Christian god, there would be basis to strike down same sex marriage in respect to the Christian bible. However, for the same reason we do not pass laws to appease the religions of Islam, Judaism, etc, we cannot legally pass a law in favor of the Christian religion. The counterargument to religious arguments is simple. Because the constitution states that laws will not be written in favor of religion, a religious-based approach is already negated. Here is the counter argument in standard form:
- The constitution is the supreme law of the land.
- Laws are not written with favor to religion.
- Laws are written on the constitution.
- Religious arguments do not bear weight with regards to legislation.
Another argument against same sex marriage would be the contention that same sex parents are raising children that develop issues that arise from not having what is considered a biologically natural upbringing. This argument boils down to the idea that a child needs to have a female and male in the home in order to establish the proper norms, lifestyle, and development. Because it has been established that the United States will not write legislation to favor a religion, the argument here has depth. The core of this argument is that we as humans evolved in a certain way that pertains to a mother-father-child dynamic. This argument in standard form would be as follows:
- Children from same-sex marriages are worse off than children from heterosexual marriages.
- Being worse off from childhood leads to developing as an unhealthy or unsuccessful adult.
- It is generally accepted that we, as society, want to develop as healthy, successful adults.
- Same-sex marriage should not be allowed to avoid unhealthy child rearing resulting in unhealthy, unsuccessful adults.
While this is a good point at the surface, upon further review, there have been countless studies that state that children from same sex couples “fare no worse” (source 5) than children from heterosexual or single parent households. If it’s the issue of healthy child raising techniques, same sex couples have been shown time and time again to be able to rear healthy children (source 5).
In conclusion, the counterarguments for same sex marriage are subpar to put it simply. There have been countless studies with multiple controls (source 5) that counter the idea that same sex parents are worse parents. Children from same sex parents have been shown to develop just fine, at a comparable standards. On top of that, the religious aspect, as stated, holds no weight.
On more than one occasion the supreme court has struck down laws that clearly favor a religion over another. Because of the first amendment, the US lawmakers will not write legislation in favor of religion. Due to the constitution being the framework upon which we base our laws, the supreme court’s rulings and continuously upheld standards, same sex marriage should be available.
- U. S. Const.
- Jennie R. Shuki-Kunze, The ‘Defenseless’ Marriage Act: The Constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act as an Extension of Congressional Power under the Full Faith and Credit Clause, 48 Cas. W. Res. L. Rev. 351 (1998) Available at: http://scholarlycommons.law.case.edu/caselrev/vol48/iss2/6
- Court, Supreme. “OBERGEFELL ET AL. v. HODGES, DIRECTOR, OHIO DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, ET AL. .” Supreme Court, www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/14pdf/14-556_3204.pdf.
- Organization, AFER. “14 Supreme Court Cases: Marriage Is a Fundamental Right.” American Foundation for Equal Rights, 2012, afer.org/blog/14-supreme-court-cases-marriage-is-a-fundamental-right/.
- University, Cornell. “What Does the Scholarly Research Say about the Well-Being of Children with Gay or Lesbian Parents?” What We Know, 2017, whatweknow.inequality.cornell.edu/topics/lgbt-equality/what-does-the-scholarly-research-say-about-the-wellbeing-of-children-with-gay-or-lesbian-parents/.