Gay Marriage in Wisconsin Essay

Gay Marriage in Wisconsin

Homosex

Introduction

Trends in the twenty first century range from the rise of new technologies and the cyber community; to the formation and prevalence of new ideas and concepts that promote equality and democracy.

Accompanying these developments and concepts is the rise of new forms of culture, not to mention, gender sexualities. One of which are those who identify themselves as a member of their opposite gender, the homosexuals.

According to the wikipedia, the existence of homosexuals can be traced in the early historical narratives but it was only during the end of the twentieth century did they become popular and more open to the public.[1]

Over the years, the tolerance and acceptance of homosexuals has been a big question in almost every society. There are those cultures that ultimately dictate the conviction of gays and lesbians. Some however, tolerate their existence yet continue to discriminate them in various ways. On the other hand, there are a few societies that take their level of tolerance to a higher level towards that of acceptance.

As their population increase, various changes have been made in the society- primarily in terms of laws. As more and more civic action groups demand for acceptance of gays through equal treatment and set of rights, changes have been made through some legislative measures.

As of the moment, there are some countries, which grant equal rights to gays- even at the most intriguing level- such as that of marriage. Below is a table of the states in the U.S. together with the legislative standing of gay marriage:

Same-Sex Marriage in the US

November 2004
State
Legal Status of Same-Sex Marriage
Alabama
Federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) adopted as state law
Alaska
Court ruled in favor, followed by state constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage modeled on DOMA
Arkansas
Voters ratified amendment to ban gay marriage, civil unions, and partnership benefits; this was a citizen initiative
Arizona
Voters ratified amendment to ban gay marriage, civil unions, and partnership benefits; this was a citizen initiative
California
State law banning same-sex marriage on appeal to State Supreme Court
Colorado
Federal DOMA adopted as state law
Connecticut
Bill to allow same-sex couples to marry in legislature (HBO3069)
Delaware
Federal DOMA adopted as state law; state constitutional amendment blocked in legislature
Florida
Federal DOMA adopted as state law
Georgia
Voters ratified amendment to ban gay marriage, civil unions, and partnership benefits; this was a legislative initiative
Hawaii
Court ruled in favor, followed by state constitutional granting authority to legislature; legislature approved DOMA, but state also provides some benefits to same-sex partners
Idaho
Federal DOMA adopted as state law
Illinois
Federal DOMA adopted as state law
Indiana
Federal DOMA adopted as state law
Iowa
Federal DOMA adopted as state law
Kansas
Federal DOMA adopted as state law
Kentucky
Voters ratified amendment to ban gay marriage, civil unions, and partnership benefits; this was a legislative initiative
Louisiana
Federal DOMA adopted as state law and constitutional amendment
Maine
Federal DOMA adopted as state law
Maryland
In 1973, became the first state to define marriage as being between a man and a woman
Massachusetts
Same-sex marriage upheld by State Supreme Court in November 2003
Michigan
Voters ratified amendment to ban gay marriage, civil unions, and partnership benefits
Minnesota
Federal DOMA adopted as state law
Mississippi
Voters ratified amendment to ban gay marriage; this was a legislative initiative
Missouri
Federal DOMA written into constitution 3 August 2004
Montana
Voters ratified amendment to ban gay marriage
Nebraska
Federal DOMA adopted as state law
Nevada
Federal DOMA adopted as state law
New Hampshire
State law predates DOMA
New Jersey
State law provides for domestic partner registry; right o marry on appeal to state Supreme Court
New Mexico
no public policy
New York
no public policy
North Carolina
Federal DOMA adopted as state law
North Dakota
Voters ratified amendment to ban gay marriage, civil unions, and partnership benefits; this was a citizen initiative
Ohio
Voters ratified amendment to ban gay marriage, civil unions, and partnership benefits; this was a citizen initiative
In Cincinnati, voter’s repealed a 1993 ban on laws supporting gay rights; it was the only city in the nation with that type of law.
Oklahoma
Voters ratified amendment to ban gay marriage, civil unions, and partnership benefits; this was a legislative initiative
Oregon
Voters ratified amendment to ban gay marriage; this was a citizen initiative
Pennsylvania
Federal DOMA adopted as state law
Rhode Island
no public policy
South Carolina
Federal DOMA adopted as state law
South Dakota
Federal DOMA adopted as state law
Tennessee
Federal DOMA adopted as state law; state constitutional amendment on track to be ratified by voters in 2006
Texas
Federal DOMA adopted as state law
Utah
Voters ratified amendment to ban gay marriage, civil unions, and partnership benefits; this was a legislative initiative
Vermont
High court allowed the Legislature to ban same-sex marriage as long as it provided for civil unions; 2000
Virginia
Federal DOMA adopted as state law
Washington
State law prohibiting same-sex marriage under review by State Supreme Court, which has two appeals in its docket
West Virginia
Federal DOMA adopted as state law
Wisconsin
No DOMA but courts have ruled marriage can only occur between a man and a woman
Wyoming
State law prohibiting same-sex marriage pre-dates DOMA

Source: http://uspolitics.about.com/library/bl_gay_marriage_2004.htm

Based on the dictionary site, marriage, defined as the union of two individuals that is acknowledged by the society, was originally allowed between men and women only. However, the rise of homosexuals brought about the advent of same-sex marriage.[2]

At the last quarter of last year, Wisconsin voters had the opportunity of voting on a proposed amendment to the Wisconsin State Constitution. The said amendment was on the Constitution’s section on marriage. It dealt with the question of  “Shall section 13 of article XIII of the constitution be created to provide that only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this state and that a legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall be valid or recognized in this state?”[3]

Supporters of the amendment claim that its purpose d to maintain and protect the historical and legal definition of marriage from being modified. They claim that if the amendment is passed, nothing will change about the marriage. However, many activists and civic groups deem of the amendment as a Ban Towards Marriages not between man and woman- therefore a ban between homosexual marriages, a ban against gay marriage.

  This is what this paper aims to tackle. This research aims to examine the constitutional amendment; and propose arguments for both sides of the Gay Marriage argument that was proposed by the 2003 legislature in the 2003 assembly. Arguments regarding the proposal to ban gay marriages will be presented together with the counter-arguments.

Gay Marriage as a form of promotion towards equality

In a democratic state, the individual should be able to enjoy certain rights that should be recognized or guaranteed by the state because of the belief in the inherent dignity and worth of every person. The value accorded to human dignity is measured by the extent of respect to human rights.[4]

One of these human rights is the right to equality.

Based on the Funk and Wagnall’s, equality is defined the state of providing the same degree of treatment towards everyone regardless of the color, race, and gender. In the past, much has been done that undermines the nature of equality such as the historical slavery and discrimination by race and gender. At this point in time however, there have been various movements to counteract these mistakes in the past. One of which is the public policy of affirmative action.[5]

In line with this, gay marriage is then defended as a basic human right- a right towards the promotion of granting equality to everyone, including that of the third sex.

Apart from that, the acceptance of being gay is largely promoted nowadays as a projection of a new form of modification in the society.

In the same way as blacks were once treated as slaves, and women were once inferiors but are now treated alike their counterparts; gays should also then be granted the same rights.

And, if people were allowed to choose their own religious faith, then why not grant them the same opportunity in choosing their sexual orientation and the type of person they would want to marry.

In this manner, banning gay marriages is thus equated to unconstitutional discrimination.

Another argument that is posed is that the incidence of gay marriages is just another form of change that comes with the twenty-first century and the emergence of a new generation. Thus, modification of social norms should be taken in consideration so as to be able to adapt to cultural changes.

As claimed by proponents of gay marriages, the definition of marriage and its accordance to social norms was created by the society itself. It is in this line of reasoning that they take its concept as a subject for modification.

Gay marriage is not a civil right nor a basic human right

It is argued that though constitutional rights are based on basic human rights, there are basic restrictions in order to be allowed to enjoy some of the rights- including the right to be married.

In order to be allowed to be wedded, some countries dictate the need to reach the legal age of 18.[6] Moreover, some cultures require the exchange of a dowry first. And apart from that, the right to marriage is allowed to be done only once by most countries and the Christian faith.

In this same way, the right to marriage is granted to persons who meet certain qualifications- including qualifications regarding sexual orientation.

Also, the argument that gay marriage should be treated in a manner as that of interracial marriages is negated through the defense that homosexuality is not the same sort of human difference as that of race. This is defended through the argument that “sexual orientation is profound while racial difference has no intrinsic bearing on love and marriage,” as stated in the article of Benne and McDermott.[7]

Gay Marriage as a form of social immorality

Morality is defined as the doctrine, which dictates man’s duties and ethics. Often, it is bounded by the concept of conformity to the conventional rules. With this in mind, gay marriages- being non-conforming to the conventional- becomes socially immoral.

First off, marriage, the union of two individuals is argued to be a religious rite. For many cultures and religious faith, marriage is deemed as one of the holy sacraments that pose the stages to one’s spiritual development.

This is why one of the most powerful social institutions actively negates the acceptance of same-sex marriages. As stated in Engel’s article, the church- primarily that of the Catholic faith actively promotes the banning of gay marriages; and equates these acts of union as mortal sins that go against the natural creation of God, and thus as an attack against spiritual development. In this sense, a legislative measure allowing gay marriages is an act of social immorality.[8]

For some, however, marriage is a stage in life that dictates that a man is now a full pledged adult that can manage and start a family, whereas a lady becomes a complete woman capable of performing her “essence”- to be able to give birth.

What most conservatives argue is that gay marriages cannot comply with the qualifications and the developments of these holy sacraments. Nor do gay marriages fit the stage of transforming into a full pledged version of their own “gender”.[9]

It may be seen that the most common argument of all, and the root of all arguments against gay marriage per se is that gay couples are unnatural and that unions such as these cannot be considered as a marriage. Obviously, gay marriages go against the commonly accepted norms. In the past, being gay really goes against the normal flow of things and thus, becomes a subject of criticism and scrutiny. The act of just identifying yourself as a member of the opposite sex, and acting towards your identification is deemed uncommon, unaccepted and entirely immoral.

Moreover, many claim that since gay marriages are unnatural, those kinds of marriages should not be validated as recognized by the state. Furthermore, it is said that these types of marriages will just ruin the social structure and concept of having a family and raising children. This is turn damages the social concept of family- the most basic form of social institution. And moreover, ruin the set of beliefs, traditions, and culture that has been passed on through history. Apart from that, gay marriages can signify the total acceptance of gays. Thus, it might encourage more people to become gay.

Also, since gay marriages are deemed as unnatural, many believe that tolerance and not total acceptance of this new “gender” is the highest point that can be attained in order to maintain social order. It is believed also that same-sex marriages are indeed a self-contradiction since marriages were then first created to allow opposite sexes to be together.[10]

Above all, gay marriages cannot comply with one of the most traditional causes of marriages- to produce and raise children. And, obviously, gay couples cannot produce children. Apart from that, questions of how they would be able to be good role models for adopted children, if they ever try to adopt, is highly posed by critics.

Conclusion

The twenty-first century has prompted the rise of various new concepts such as that of a new sexual orientation- that of homosexuals.

In line with this rise of homosexuals who come out in the open, the concept of allowing gay marriages is now faced.

For those who promote such an idea, gay marriage is viewed as a basic human right and an action towards the equality of everyone.

It is defended that allowing gay marriages is just the same as allowing the incident of interracial marriage or that the choice of religious faith is just the same as the choice of who to marry.

Moreover, proponents of gay marriage argue that this type of changes in legislative measures are not new and are part of the society’s mechanism to be able to adapt to cultural demands.

To counter these arguments, those opposed to gay marriages claim that sexual orientation is not the same as a race or religious faith.

Sexual orientation differs from racial identification since the latter is given, and cannot be subjected to change no matter how much human intervention is generated. Also sexual orientation is going against the “natural” and it is philosophical, and thus, has more complicated effects to society since sexual orientation affects procreation.

Also, marriages are defended as a sacred or religious sacrament and a cultural passage towards a development.

In contrast to this, gay marriages cannot confer with the requirements of the sacrament and the cultural rite. Moreover, the whole concept of marriage as a sacrament towards the development of the spiritual being and as a passage towards the formation of an adult ready to take on the responsibilities assigned by the society will ultimately be defeated.

Gay marriages are also seen as a threat towards the already established norms of authority, identity and power. The set of socials institutions- beginning with its most basic form, the family, will face modifications on the roles and behaviors assigned to each member.

Moreover, marriage serves as a representation of culture. Thus, if radical changes about it are taken, the people’s set of ideals on sex, sexuality, relationships, and behavior will ultimately face chaos. This is taken valid through the premise that a person’s construction of reality is based only on his/her interaction within the society to which he or she belongs.

In line with this, it is seen that the basic argument against gay marriages is dealt with using a democratic principle. This is so since the reason why gay marriages are not yet allowed and accepted legislatively is that it goes against the social norms of the majority. And since majority prevails and the gay population is part of the minority; their rights to marriage are uniquely dealt with not as discrimination to their type, but as a way to maintain and protect the stability of the majority of the population.

In this light, it can be taken that when gay population in Wisconsin reaches a more significant number such as that of women and as that of blacks or other races, then that is the only time when people will somehow accept them as “natural” changes in an ever-changing perceptive world.

Once this “naturality” occurs, the possibility that the Wisconsin community’s total acceptance to gays will heighten, in terms of basic human rights and privileges, instead of mere tolerance of their existence. This is so provided that the proposed acceptance will pose little threat, or rather none at all, to stability of social norms and beliefs of the citizens in the said area.

References
Benne, Robert and Gerald McDermott. “Thirteen Bad Arguments for Same-Sex Marriage” in Theocracy for the Modern times.  Published 2000, Appleton and Lange.

Engel, Deanne. “Catholicism and Homosexuals.” The Church in the 21st Century. Published 2002, the C.V. Mosby Company.

Standard Dictionary of the English Langauge. Funk ;Wagnalls. Published 1974. International Edition.

Democracy. (n.d.) Retrieved January 20, 2007 from http://en.wikipedia.org/democracy

Marriage. (n.d.) Retrieved January 20, 2007 from http://en.wikipedia.org/marriage

Marriage. (2005). Retrieved January 19, 2007 from http://www.legis.state.wius/2005/data/SJR-53.pdf

Homosexuals. (n.d.) Retrieved January 20, 2007 from http://en.wikipedia.org/homosexuals

www.about.com (on marriage, gays, and homosexuals)

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/homosexuals
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/marriage
[3] http://www.legis.state.wius/2005/data/SJR-53.pdf
[4] http://en.wikipedia.org/democracy
[5] Standard Dictionary of the English Langauge. Funk ;Wagnalls. Published 1974. International Edition.
[6] http://en.wikipedia.org/Marriage

[7] Benne, Robert and Gerald McDermott. Thirteen Bad Arguments for Same-Sex Marriage
[8] Engel, Deanne. Catholicism and Homosexuals
[9] Gay Marriages. www.about.com
[10] http://en.wikipedia.org/marriage