NOTE: This is an amended version of a speech I will be giving in my Oral Communication class at school. Our assignment was to select a political topic and give a persuasive speech for or against said topic. The views presented are not necessarily those of my fellow classmates, the teachers and staff of The King’s University at Gateway, or Gateway Church.
One-thousand, one hundred thirty-eight. That certainly is a large number. It would take roughly five minutes to count to 1,138. If you think that you can do better, be my guest and please try! While I do not plan to take five minutes to count that high, I do intend on taking roughly five minutes to explain why over 1,000,000 individuals are unjustly, yet currently legally barred from accessing 1,138 federal benefits already entitled to heterosexual couples in America, based solely upon their gender. Same-sex marriage rights (or in short, marriage equality) are a critical step forward for our country’s pursuit of “a more perfect union.” Same-sex couples in America deserve equal protection and access to all benefits already granted to opposite-sex couples under the law, as this issue is not a matter of morality but rather justice and civil liberty. Understanding the full context of marriage equality by briefly investigating the purpose of marriage, the benefits of marriage for children, and the role of the federal government will, in turn, illuminate the importance of this issue for all Americans.
Some assume that passing marriage equality legislation would dismantle the institution of marriage.
We must define what the ultimate purpose of marriage is. If the assumption is that marriage is between one man and one woman for procreation, then what do we say to those couples who choose not to have children? Is their relationship any less valid? What about couples that are unable to have children, and thus cannot procreate? Is their union any less valid? Procreation is simply a natural result of sexual intercourse. Same-sex marriage does not negate or inhibit procreation from occurring, as ultimately same-sex unions have nothing to do with this process, nor do said couples expect to be able to procreate. As such, marriage is simply a ceremonial and cultural broadcast of mutual love and dedication between two individuals. Same-sex marriages expand and reinforce this bond in society, not dismantle it.
Marriage is the union of two consenting individuals who share mutual love for each other. Just as heterosexual couples find fulfillment in their union, the same can be said for homosexual couples. If same-sex marriages are legalized, it is safe to assume that a good amount of said couples would want to raise a family. What can be said regarding the children involved in these relationships?
Some assume that children raised in same-sex couple households would be more prone to mental and emotional difficulties.
No credible study has shown that children living in same-sex couple households are more likely to deal with adverse mental or emotional issues. Studies show that children who live in single parent households “have negative life outcomes at two to three times the rate of children in married, two-parent families.” Additionally, a 2004 study of a randomly selected, nationally representative sample of 12,105 US adolescents in grades 7 through 12 showed that “12- to 18-year-olds living with 2 women in a “marriage-like” family arrangement were similar to peers whose parents were heterosexual in measures of self-esteem, depression, anxiety, school “connectedness,” and school success.” Children’s self-esteem has also been shown to be higher among adolescents whose mothers (of any sexual orientation) were in a new partnered relationship after divorce, compared with those whose mothers remained single, and among those who found out at a younger age that their parent was homosexual, compared with those who found out when they were older.
The increase in cohabitation before marriage, divorce, and out-of-wedlock births are the root causes of fragile family situations in America — same-sex marriages already have little to do with this trend, and fundamentally, modern studies reflect that generally two parent households (of any variation) are more likely to produce a positive environment for children to grow up in. Children intrinsically need two parental figures for the best chances of a positive upbringing. Marriage equality has little to do with addressing the root causes of the broken family system in America. However, what about the ultimate legality of marriage equality in the United States? This discussion is moot if there is not already precedent for legal action to arise which would allow for same-sex marriage rights.
Some argue that the federal government should not be involved in defining marriage, but rather this should be left to the states.
The Defense of Marriage Act already defined marriage at the federal level as being between one man and one woman. Previous to this, the federal government recognized any marriage granted by one, or more of the states. In essence, the federal government was blind to any variation of the term “marriage,” so long as the state where the couple resided honored their union. Under the guise of pushing the argument back to the state level, the federal government redefined marriage on its own! Inherently, the DOMA is a self-contradictory piece of legislation — “Marriage is between one man and one woman. We give the states complete freedom to honor same-sex marriages, however we do not honor their hypothetical honoring of same-sex marriages.”
There are now 1,138 federal statutory benefits granted to married couples that would have been given to same-sex couples had DOMA not been enacted, according the U.S. General Accountability Office. The federal government should remain blind as it was before by supporting the individual legislation of each state, not by arbitrarily removing federal rights under the guise of “leaving it to the states.”
No one is in the position to emphatically state that two people are incapable of fully loving, committing, and working together as a couple for mutual benefit. Marriage is simply the union of two individuals bonded by love – the gender of each individual has nothing to do with the legality of the union. All Americans should support the federal government recognizing same-sex marriage laws passed by states, as all legally married couples deserve equal access to the numerous benefits entitled to them by law.
John and Gary live in Massachusetts. Under state law, they are legally recognized as a married couple. When they became married, John moved in with Gary, who is the sole owner of the home. Unfortunately, Gary passed away from cancer last year. The house now passes to John, who takes legal possession of the estate, worth some $500,000. Because the federal government no longer recognizes same-sex marriages, John is now barred from taking advantage of federal tax-exemption on property transfers between spouses. A heterosexual couple in the same situation would be able to use this tax-exemption. Now, John must pay at least $2200 in taxes for simply taking possession of his spouse’s estate, which the state legally recognizes, but the federal government willingly chooses not to.
This story, while fictional, is only one possible scenario out of 1,138. Do we as Americans, who pride ourselves on belief in individual liberty and the pursuit of “a more perfect union,” really believe that this is just?
For a list of my sources, please message me privately on Facebook or via e-mail (email@example.com).