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Lesbian, gay, & bisexual topics

All about same-sex marriages (SSM),
civil unions & domestic partnerships

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The two solitudes:

same-sex marriage symbol

Marriage Project's symbol 1

Family Research Council's marriage symbol 2

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This essay gives some background material about same-sex marriage (SSM) that you
might find helpful before you proceed to our rather large section describing SSM in detail.

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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?" From an anonymous posting to an Internet mailing list.

  • Consider whether either of the following photographs upset you, and why.

Picture of love; picture of hunger

  • 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.
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Background:

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 all:

  • U.S. states either allow SSM or ban it within their borders, or do not allow it but recognize legal SSMs solemnized elsewhere. There really is no possible middle ground.

  • Until mid-2013, the federal government ignored legal same-sex marriages in accordance with its Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). During the early 2010's, numerous lawsuits were filed to have it declared unconstitutional by the courts. On 2013-JUN-26, Section 3

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: Youths and young adults are generally strongly for SSM; the elderly are either against SSM 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; the members of main line denominations are split.

  • Geography: The northeast and west coast is supportive; 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 national 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 occurred.

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 allow SSM, some people fear that their faith group's clergy be forced to marry same-sex couples. Companies in the wedding industry (wedding cake bakers, wedding photographers, etc) will be forced by human rights laws to provide wedding goods and services to 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 and unjust 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 gender.
 

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. They have no permission to make medical decisions if they are incapacitated. There are other factors that negatively affect the 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.

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Predictions of the future of same-sex marriage:

The last time that the eligibility to marry was redefined nationwide was when marriage licenses for interracial couples became available across the entire country. This was decided in 1967 by the Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court when they issued their ruling in Loving v. Virginia. This involved one couple launching one lawsuit and fighting all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The attainment of marriage equality for both opposite-sex and same-sex couples across the entire U.S. would be a much more complex task.

Some commentators predict that if and when:

  • Over 50% of states allow SSM, and

  • Over 50% of American adults live in states where SSM is legal, and

  • Public opinion polls regularly show that more than 60% of voters support SSM,

that a lawsuit to legalize same-sex marriage that had started at a federal District Court will have resulted in a decision in favor of marriage equality. The case would be appealed to that state's U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and later be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. The high court could legalize SSM across the entire country, perhaps about the year 2020.

In early 2013, the Center for American Progress posted a graphic titled: "Marriage equality is now a mainstream value." It shows that 83% of registered voters expect that marriage equality will be attained across the country during the next 5 to 10 years -- that is, by 2018 to 2013.

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About terminology:

Originally, same-sex marriage was referred to as "gay marriage." This was confusing for three reasons:

  • Some might interpret "gay marriage" as restricted to a marriage of two male gays.

  • Others might include also the marriage of two lesbians.

  • Some same-sex marriages include one or two bisexuals who are neither gay nor lesbian.

To further confuse the situation, some religous and social conservatives placed quotation marks around "marriage" in order to emphasize their belief that same-sex marriage really isn't marriage.

And so, the term "same-sex marriage," and its acronym "SSM" came into widespread use. "SSM" is much better because it includes all same-sex couples whether they involve gays, lesbians and/or bisexuals. But even SSM is not that great as an acronym. That is because much of the LGBT community is seeking "marriage" not "same-sex marriage." That is, they are not seeking some new form of recognition of their relationships. They are seeking to be part of the community of married couples. Perhaps some term like "Marriage of same-sex couple" or "MSSC" will become widely used in the future. In the meantime, we will continue using "SSM"

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Our section on same-sex marriage is MASSIVE for two reasons:

  1. It is the most actively debated religious topic in the U.S. today, having surpassed even abortion access in importance.

  2. Eligibility for marriage is a responsibility of the individual states. 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.
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Please go to the main same-sex marriage (SSM) menu. It is massive

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. National Freedom to Marry Day logos are available at: http://www.lambdalegal.org
  2. From the Family Research Council's Washington Update mailing list of 2003-OCT-8.
  3. Nima Reza, "Vermont Gay Marriage Begins Tuesday," CitizenLink daily update e-mail, 2009-AUG-31.
  4. Bob Livingston, "Gay marriage divides GOP," Personal Liberty Digest, 2009-JUN-03, at: http://www.personalliberty.com/
  5. John McCain, CNN newsroom transcript, 2007-FEB-11, at: http://transcripts.cnn.com/
  6. Philip Pullella, "Gay marriage, abortion new forms of evil: Pope," The Toronto Star, 2005-FEB-23, Page A14.
  7. "The day that had to come: New York helps lead the way toward equality with vote on gay marriage," Buffalo News, 2011-JUN-28, at: http://www.buffalonews.com/

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How you may have arrived here:

Home > here

Home > Religious info. > Basic > Marriage > here

Home > "Hot" topics > Homosexuality > Religious impact > here

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Copyright © 1997 to 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Rewritten: 2009-MAY-10
Latest update: 2014-MAY-18
Author: B.A. Robinson

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