Should gays be allowed to marry?
Step 2 of 5
- Yes? But have you considered...
- No? But have you considered...
… that many people believe that denying marriage licenses to homosexuals is not discriminatory?
The question of whether homosexuality is a choice or a naturally occurring phenomenon has been hotly debated. And although several studies have pointed to an innate “gay gene” among homosexuals, many regard the findings as inconclusive, arguing instead that stressors such as childhood sexual abuse often trigger homosexuality.
The notion that homosexuality is a “condition” has given rise to various “ex-gay” or “reparative” efforts that seek to transform homosexuals into heterosexuals through psychological or spiritual counseling. For years, researchers have viewed these efforts skeptically. More recently, though, high-profile researchers such as Columbia University’s Robert Spitzer have acknowledged their efficacy.
In a well-publicized study, Dr. Spitzer, a professor of psychiatry and the university’s chief of biometric research, investigated whether people who identified as gay could, through reparative therapy, become predominantly heterosexual. Although only a few of the study’s subjects reported a complete transformation, the majority of participants in the five-year study reported that they were now predominantly attracted to members of the opposite sex.
“Like most psychiatrists, I thought that homosexual behavior could be resisted, but sexual orientation could not be changed,” Dr. Spitzer told a meeting of the American Psychiatric Association. “I now believe that’s untrue—some people can and do change.”
These sorts of findings have prompted many critics to argue that unlike, say, minority racial status (but perhaps similar to a religious belief), homosexuality is a behavioral, not an essential, quality. Homosexuals are not, therefore, being discriminated against when the state refuses to grant them marriage licenses. Rather, lesbians and gays opt out of their opportunity to marry.
Gays can still get married; they just can’t marry anyone of the same sex.
… that many people believe that prohibiting gays from marrying is a form of discrimination?
Many supporters of gay marriage argue that just as some people are black and some people are white, some people are straight and others are gay. To bar homosexuals from marriage, therefore, is a form of discrimination on the order of prohibiting interracial marriage and prohibiting people with a genetic abnormality from marrying because they might pass it on to offspring.
By prohibiting gays to wed, the government is not merely discriminating against them on a cultural level. Rather, they argue, the United States has no less than 1,100 federal laws in which marital status is a factor. By denying gays the ability to legally marry, they argue, the government denies them many of the rights and benefits associated with marriage, in effect, violating their 14th Amendment rights, which ensures equal protection under the law.
In the California Supreme Court’s May 2008 decision legalizing gay marriage in the state, Chief Justice Ronald George seemed to agree with this view when he wrote: “[A]n individual’s sexual orientation—like a person’s race or gender—does not constitute a legitimate basis upon which to deny or withhold legal rights. We therefore conclude that in view of the substance and significance of the fundamental constitutional right to form a family relationship, the California Constitution properly must be interpreted to guarantee this basic civil right to all Californians, whether gay or heterosexual, and to same-sex couples as well as to opposite-sex couples.”
Moreover, in our society, marriage is widely recognized as a fundamental right—indeed, for many people it’s a key ingredient to a “full” life. Many gay marriage proponents argue that to deny anyone the opportunity to enjoy and benefit from marriage is wrong—legally and morally.
Step 2 of 5