When it comes to gay marriage, not only does it bring to mind the need for human and civil rights to prevail but also it reminds me of the fight that Martin Luther King Jr. took when he stood up for the rights of African American people. One of his most inspiring quotes I feel still rings true in the fight for civil and human rights is "The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood" (Inspiring Quotes, 2012). The right for gay marriage should not be based on someone’s religious or political views, nor, should it be based on whether it goes with or against someone’s moral values and ethics. Gay marriage is no different from the fight that Martin Luther King Jr. fought when he fought for the rights of African Americans. His quote applies whether nonconformists or not the hope of a secure and livable world lies on the people of the nation bringing justice, peace, and brotherhood to everyone. Gay marriage has brought about a lot of controversy along with ethical questions and concerns however, it is not just with gay marriage but all of the rights being asked to be provided to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) community.
My stance on gay marriage is strongly for it and not just for gay marriage but also for all rights due to the LGBTQ community. Part of the reason my stance is so strong is because I identify myself as a gay man living in a world afraid of change, afraid of realizing how multicultural, multi-religious, and how diverse our society really is. Our world is also afraid of the unknown and yet we question everyday what we do not know. Gay marriage is morally questioned when in reality it should be the question of the social responsibility. I will examine gay marriage as a human and civil right; human and civil rights over the years, I will also be examining, why the controversy over gay marriage; the different point of views on gay marriage. I will argue why gay marriage should be allowed; the social responsibility and respecting the human and civil rights by allowing gay marriage, and the solution to gay marriage by applying the ethical theories provided in this course along with the perspectives as well and then giving the solution to the issue.
Some people do not know what civil and human rights is. There is a slight difference between the two but for the most part by essence, they are one in the same. Civil rights based on definition is an individual’s personal rights to liberty mostly applied to an individual or a minority group. However, it is also the rights to full equality legally, socially, and economically (Civil rights, n.d.). Human rights is fundamental rights believed to belong to an individual and to those who do not want government interference as their rights to speak, socialize, work, etc. (Human right, n.d.). So by definition civil and human rights are the same, the only difference is human rights is seeking freedom while civil rights already has some aspects of freedom but may not fully have complete equality under law so it gives the issues rise to be considered human rights.
Gay marriage is a human right because the community of LGBTQ is considered individuals of themselves but by civil rights, we are considered a minority. We believe and those individuals who are not of the LGBTQ community agree that we have the right to marry, work, speak, socialize, etc. without having the government interfere or even authority figures interfere with our rights. Since we are considered a minority as well, it brings gay marriage to be a civil right to seek liberty and full equality legally, socially and economically seeking the same rights as those of straight marriages.
As we look back over the years, we have seen civil and human right movements happen in the United States of America a few have been in a way a milestone for a journey to reach full equality for everyone. A few important movements happened in our past worth noting when it comes to talking about rights. Their rights that they sought are no different from the rights the LGBTQ community seek in today’s society based on a moral level though the rights may not have been the same but in essence, their rights are the same when seeking full equality under the law.
The first movement seen from our past that caused great controversy in America when it was new was centered on slavery between 1791 and 1865. The states were divided between the Northern states which were called the Free states where slaves were free while the Southern states held slaves. Two leaders lead the controversy over slaver one was the abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison who denounced slavery calling it a “pact with the devil” while the opponent for slavery was Senator John C. Calhoun of South Carolina who refused to discuss slavery on the floor of the United States Congress. Over the years during the battle to end slavery there were cases involving whether Africans at the time had any rights at all under the law. The courts decisions denied African slaves any rights to be equal to the white settlers and due to the different views on this issue lead to the Civil War between the North and the South. After the war, it lead to the civil war amendments which gave the African descendants the equality they sought which was to be treated like white Americans, and because of this equality the Africans were called African-Americans (Edmundson, 2004). African-Americans were no longer slaves in America. However, one major issue still presented itself to the African-Americans that kept them apart from being equally treated like the whites in America’s past of civil rights movement. This problem was segregation.
African-Americans may have been free from slavery but it put in place a harsh system of white supremacy that stayed until the early twentieth century. The segregation was a way for the whites to be racists against the blacks and in the Southern states and those parts that bordered along the way put a ban on the African-Americans from socializing or associating with the whites in any public place. This meant that public accommodations such as schools, hospitals, rest rooms, and many more places made signs and posted them outside of the facility stating “Negroes and Dogs Not Allowed”. This type of racism created violence and white intimidation which remained a present threat to African- Americans. Outside of the South African-Americans had legal rights but they still suffered from the widespread discrimination in schools and residential areas. Over the decades from when segregation started, there was little progress to end the racial discrimination both in public places and in schools. There were organizations created to help end segregation along with the help of several presidents over the years however, it still did not end. It was not until early 1963, when Martin Luther King Jr. became an activist for the civil rights movement to end segregation. He continued the fight along with several others tackling different civil and human rights issues such as voting rights for the African-Americans. There was great progress over the years for the African-Americans but the their fight was not over. The Civil Rights Movement took a significant blow the day Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968. Though the movement took a hit and improvement in policies and political changes occurred since the movement began there is still inconsistencies when it comes to equality for African-Americans (Patterson, n.d.). Much like the African-Americans, the LGBTQ community has to deal with discrimination when it comes to not only marriage but socially, legally, and even in work places along with many other areas.
The other major civil right movement that played a major part in America’s history that is worth noting when it comes to comparison to the right of the LGBTQ community is the Women’s Rights Movement that started in 1848. The Women’s right movement started with a convention that was held in New York for two days setting the agenda for the movement. The convention debated over the Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions that was signed by 68 women and 32 men. The movement for Women’s rights was not only setting the stage for women’s rights to vote but for women to be equally treated in society. Women sought the right to learn medicine, to keep their own name after marriage, to get a higher education much like men, and to seek legal equality as well. Women in the work place were discriminated when it came to pay until 1868 when the National Labor Union supported equal pay for equal work. The fight for women’s rights continued on making great progress for women to be equally treated from the political aspect to even their success in the Summer Olympics in 1996 (n.a., n.d.). The progress made with the women’s rights movement is similar of that of the civil rights movement involving the African-Americans. Both movements sought out equality which meant for them to be treated not like a minority but like the majority of society. The advocates for the LGBTQ community are no different from the advocates of the Women’s and Civil Rights movements. They are supporting the fight for gay marriage because it is a human and civil right regardless what others in society may think they are fighting the same fight that others before them have fought. Their goal in the end is equality and for the LGBTQ a step towards equality is gay marriage.
With the advocates fighting for gay marriage and the LGBTQ community pushing for gay marriage to be recognized by every state and legalized by law it has brought along with it controversy. Much like any civil and human right movement seeking change controversy seems like it cannot be avoided. There are the advocates and supporters of gay marriage who are willing to allow it but then you have the opponents of gay marriage who will fight and make it extremely difficult for gay marriage to succeed legally. Those who are against gay marriage bring up ethical and moral concerns along with standing ground with their spiritual beliefs when it comes to gay marriage.
Some of the opponents of gay marriage believe that by allowing gay marriage it will transform the very definition of marriage and have repercussions that will be far-reaching. By allowing gay marriage, they believe it would transform society’s view of marriage out of its world-view. Colson and Pearcey (1996) discuss David Coolidge’s article from Crisis magazine where he outlines two very differentiating views when it comes to marriage that is warring dominance in America. The first view talks about a universal moral order that there are two sexes which are part of this order and that the social institution by which we live our lives in family and kinship relationships are modeled virtually in this universal tradition where marriage is compatible with Christianity. Therefore, in legal terms the right to marry and the recognition of marriage should follow this prior moral order (Colson & Pearcey, 1969). The other view they talk about is a choice model which they believe by allowing gay marriage is accepting this view. They believe this choice model and those who follow it believe that the universe is malleable and individuals can create their own truths and values. When it comes to sexuality, this choice model views its purpose as merely for pleasure, intimacy, and reproduction. Family structure under this model is pliable like dough, can virtually be any form, and is acceptable. This choice model has no moral order and can lead to weakening the institution of marriages commitment between men and women (Colson & Pearcey, 1969). Though the opponents may have this view on gay marriage and what it may do if legalized but in reality, gay marriage whether moral issues or ethical issues arise for one side is not the same for the other because as America we have grown multicultural, multi-religious, and in all multi-everything.
Like myself, there are those individuals who view gay marriage as a personal right and in order for it to be recognized, it has to be legalized. Legalizing gay marriage is also about equality why should straight couples be allowed to marry and not gays. Life may not be fair but history has shown that by allowing a group of people to do one thing but the same thing for another group is forbidden then it shows a lack of equality and grounds for further discrimination against a minority. Allowing gay marriage is not about redefining what marriage is because over the course of time the definition of marriage has been redefined repeatedly. The sanctity of marriage is not going to change just because gay marriage is allowed. Marriage whether the LGBTQ community or the heterosexuals get married marriage will still be holy.
Marriage used to be polygamous and polyandrous as a tool for labor control and transmission of property. Now marriage is to nurture happiness and mutual commitment between two people. Marriage once governed by kinship and customs is now governed by church and government. Gay marriage has become more urgent due to four fundamental changes in history. The first of these is the right to choose a partner regardless of how distressed the choice caused the family, community, or social structure of that person. Secondly, there is the difference in the marital roles assigned to husband and wives declined, allowing it easier to imagine marriage between two people of the same gender. Thirdly, marriages became the crucial crutch of rights and benefits both publicly and privately. Lastly, the power of any religious group to impose its rules on others while it was never strong has declined (Chauncey, 2005). Another crucial change in marriage is legalizing biracial couples to marry because at one time those who wanted to marry were considered a minority as well. So over the years changes have occurred and are still occurring when it comes to marriage and the sanctity of marriage has not changed since.
When it comes to allowing gay marriage, I do not believe it is a question of moral or ethical values but about the social responsibility the American citizens have when it comes to equality in the nation. In order to see the social responsibility America has when it comes to equality I believe looking at our past and looking at the documents our founding fathers used to build this nation. We can see our social responsibility in the Declaration of Independence our forefathers made. I believe that we have forgotten where we came from and where our founding fathers came from. I believe that we have forgotten the guidelines that were set in place for us to follow by our founding fathers of this nation. It is clearly written in the Declaration of Independence that "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness" (Ushistory, 1995). I believe when our founding fathers wrote this they kept in mind that everyone is unique, everyone is equal in the eyes of their Creator and everyone has the same right to have life, liberty, and above all to have happiness while having liberty and life in America.
The Women's Right movement their goal was to be equal and for them it was their pursuit to be happy being an equal. Segregation and Slavery not only did it make minorities to feel unhappy but also they were treated unequally and for what? To make someone else happy? Is this type of treatment that we have seen in our past the type of treatment we should be giving to every new minority that comes out of the woodworks? My soul, my heart, and my mind tells me that this is not the way our founding fathers pictured the future generations to act. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness" (Ushistory, 1995). I believe when our founding fathers wrote this they kept in mind that everyone is unique, everyone is equal in the eyes of their Creator and everyone has the same right to have life, liberty, and above all to have happiness while having liberty and life in America. The Women's Right movement their goal was to be equal and for them it was their pursuit to be happy being an equal. Segregation and Slavery not only did it make minorities to feel unhappy but also they were treated unequally and for what? Is this type of treatment that we have seen in our past the type of treatment we should be giving to every new minority that comes out of the woodworks? My soul, my heart, and my mind tells me that this is not the way our founding fathers pictured the future generations to act. We are human; we all make mistakes and our founding fathers undoubtedly made mistakes and especially they did by allowing slavery and segregation instead of biting it in the butt. But we have the chance to honor and respect those that came before us in the fight for civil and human rights and in the fight for equality. By honoring and respecting them is by providing and following the solution for gay marriage and the solution for that issue is allowing gay marriage across the nation.
The solution for gay marriage though it does conflict with certain peoples own morals and ethics is based on the utilitarianism theory which is a natural way to see if an act is right or wrong thing to do as the result from a set of choices. The choice that is chosen in hopefully the right thing to do would produce the best results for the greatest number of people affected (Mosser, 2010). By allowing gay marriage, the choice chosen is producing the result that would affect the greatest number of people and that group would be the LGBTQ community. By allowing gay marriage, it is not going to affect heterosexual marriages, families, or religious beliefs in any way. The ethical perspective applied to the solution to gay marriage is the same that anyone in America uses and that is relativism. Relativism is agreeing to disagree with someone you are friends with, family, or even coworkers (Mosser, 2010). Their choices or opinion of music is different from yours, you agree to disagree with them, and this is no different with gay marriage.
Much of our current American culture is what it is today because of our past and the advocates who supported and fought for civil and human rights. Some examples of those movements is the Civil Rights Movement which resulted in the Civil War but abolished slavery but continued the fight because of segregation being allowed in America. The Women’s Rights Movement was brought on because women much like the African-Americans sought equality and being treated fairly in politics, work, public, and so many more areas. Gay marriage is no different from those movements but is narrowing on a specific area of equality for the LGBTQ community that they seek. Opponents view that allowing gay marriage will destroy the sanctity of marriage, redefine what marriage is, and will destroy the social structure that is in place that follows the moral codes of Christianity. But in reality, marriage has already been redefined repeatedly in ways of what is involved in marriage. However, the sanctity of marriage will never change marriage whether heterosexual, biracial, or gay will still be holy. Marriage will still be a structure where a person can chose whom they marry and in that relationship be nurturing to happiness and commitment. Allowing gay marriage is applying utilitarianism an ethics theory and relativism which is already used by society which is a perspective. The result is affecting the greatest number of people and agreeing to disagree with one another on who they marry. Gay marriage is only but one of the many equality rights that the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) community are pursuing but gay marriage has brought about a lot of controversy along with ethical questions and concerns to the opposing party not only about gay marriage but also about all the many equality rights they seek to pursue. It should not be about the ethical or morals but the social responsibility the people of America have.
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