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A Question of Equality

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Gerardo de la Cueva de la Cueva 1 Professor Gutierrez Chicano Studies 155 MWF 2:00 - 2:50 p.m. Monday, September 27, 2004 A Question of Equality With gay marriage being a central cause for debate in the upcoming presidential elections, it is essential that voters become aware of the focal points of each side of the argument. As many minority groups in the United States have fought for their civil rights in past decades, it is the gay community that now finds itself striving for equal opportunities amongst a culturally diverse nation. Although they have already come a long way in the path of acceptance, most recently the gay community has had to confront extremist conservative groups who claim that allowing same-sex couples to join in a civilly recognized union violates the act of a traditional, sacred marriage. Gay and lesbian individuals who will be directly affected by the decisions of the voting American public generally feel that, like any other group, they should not be denied rights that are typically bestowed upon heterosexual couples who are recognized by the federal government. ...read more.


Yet, their unions are considered valid and they reap the full benefits of matrimony afforded to any heterosexual pair. For the purpose of raising children, gay rights opponents argue that children do not belong in households headed by two people of the same sex. They worry that children living in such an environment will grow to be confused, and will be raised in unfavorable social conditions. Moreover, religious leaders who oppose gay rights reason that it is unjustifiable for the gay community to equate their fight for rights and recognition to that of racial equality. They argue that homosexuality is an immoral, chosen behavior that does not deserve special protection under the law, perhaps insinuating that gay individuals are only a fraction of the worth that any other human being is. In 1996 the United States Congress adopted the Federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which denies federal recognition of gay marriages and gives each state the right to decide whether to recognize gay marriage certificates issued in other states. ...read more.


Most importantly, the gay community and gay rights groups, like GLAD, assert that states cannot justify excluding gay and lesbian couples from the institution of marriage because of the many benefits and protections it provides. Many activists express that the laws restricting gay marriages are the same as the laws that prohibited inter-racial couples from marrying half a century ago; those laws were overturned in 1967 and are now seen as absurd and discriminatory. Obviously, legalizing gay marriage in the United States will simplify the lives of same-sex couples and provide them with marriage benefits ranging from countless legal protections to rights allowing them to adopt, raise and share custody of children. Yes, civil unions and domestic partnership laws are leading the gay community in a positive direction as these laws are beneficiary to gay and lesbian couples. However, these protections are simply not representative of the American ideal that all men are created de la Cueva 4 equal. DOMA restricts the recognition of gay and lesbian marriages or unions on a state-to-state level. If as citizens we truly are equal, then why aren't heterosexual marriages only recognized by the states that issue their marriage certificates? ...read more.

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