Gay marriage: A matter of human rights

November 6, 2008 — by Mira Chaykin

Have you ever seen a gay person rallying against straight marriage? Didn’t think so. What is it, then, that makes straight people think they have the right to control the lives of others merely because of their sexual orientation? It is morally repugnant that America claims to be a society where all people are created equal, then actually has the audacity to even consider banning homosexual marriage.

Despite legalizing gay marriage in California on May 15th earlier this year, gay marriage is once again up for contention in the November election in several states, including California under Proposition 8.

One of the biggest arguments for denying the rights is tradition. America has always defined marriage as between a man and a woman. This sentiment echoes the fight for slavery not long ago. People asserted that slavery was a tradition, thus not to be abolished. Yet America soon realized the practice took away the rights of human beings, and their color was irrelevant.

Opponents of gay marriage argue marriage is mostly for the procreation of the species. In that case, when do we start denying the right of marriage to infertile men and women?

It has also been said that establishing gay marriage would be immoral as many religions are against it. In truth, churches can retain the right to deny marriage on an individual basis wherever they see fit, but they have absolutely no grounds on which to restrict an entire population.

Another ridiculous arguments against gay marriage is that it is a “slippery slope to polygamy.” The point of marriage being monogamous is that it makes laws in respect to inheritance and life rights, like making decisions in euthanasia cases, less ambiguous. Essentially, people are being denied their basic rights in fear of a hypothetical future.

Others claim, in a similarly preposterous fashion, that life is all about love, not marriage, so gay people should be happy that they are still allowed to love. This is invalid as no one seems to be calling for a total abolition of marriage. What we have here is flat out discrimination and a desperate attempt at a solid argument where none exists.

Sometimes gay people are allowed “civil unions,” in which they are given some of the same rights as heterosexual couples. People argue that it’s merely a battle over semantics, and the title of “marriage” is unnecessary. In a civil union, however, homosexuals are still denied Social Security, insurance and employee benefits, in addition to the title of marriage.

On a federal level, however, in states where a civil union does not exist, homosexuals are also denied tax benefits, estate and inheritance benefits, Medicare and disability benefits and immigration rights. One of the rights denied because homosexuals are unable to marry is hospital visitation rights.

Despite being seemingly mundane and insignificant for those who easily possess it, the title of marriage is a status symbol. According to the gay community, being in a civil union does not warrant the same respect.

It is easy for people to fight homosexual marriage when they aren’t gay. They are not affected, so they simply disregard it. One student said, “I do not support gay marriage because I don’t want people to think I’m gay.” Being gay is not a sin. Ignorance is a sin. Denying rights to fellow human beings is a sin. It isn’t necessary to be gay to be an advocate of human rights.

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