What if you were denied to marry your loved one? What if you were denied something that is a fundamental element of your civil rights as a citizen of a state? Would you fight or would you surrender?
The Oxford dictionary defines civil marriage as “a marriage solemnized as a civil contract without a religious ceremony.” Civil marriage has been overlooked over the years because it is seen as less important in comparison to a religious marriage. However, many people are no longer accepting the unjust treatment they are receiving when declined to undergo civil marriages. Ignorant people have limited the term “marriage” to different sex couples and discriminated against the people of different religion, people of different political background and most importantly to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender couples. I believe that the era of ignorance and discrimination is on the verge of altering itself into a gay marriage movement. By finally allowing same-sex couples to marry one another in return allows them to get the same privileges as any other couples. Same-sex couples can “legally” get married and be with one another, can finally feel secure and happy in their relationship, and can finally receive the same treatment as any other couple.
President Barack Obama once said: “When I think about— members of my own staff who are incredibly committed, in monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together. When I think about— those soldiers or airmen or marines or— sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf— and yet, feel constrained, even now that ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ is gone, because— they’re not able to— commit themselves in a marriage. At a certain point, I’ve just concluded that— for me personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that— I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.” This released statement by President Barack Obama was a life-changing event because as of June 24, 2011 New York City became the largest state to legalize same-sex marriage (Copeland 1.) For years, the United States’ civil law regarding marriage and divorce was generally reﬂecting the Protestant Christian norms of religion. Which states: “marriage was limited to one man and one woman of marriageable age and without prohibited degrees of consanguinity or afﬁnity” (Nichols 2.) And as advanced as America is compared to the rest of the world, homophobia is still evident in their civilization. Gay, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender (LGBT) have been struggling for their human rights and their rights as citizens of the state. Now, most people thought that the state’s recognition of same-sex marriage would have been synonymous with the LGBT equality movement in 1993 when Hawaii argued that the state shouldn’t exclude same-sex couples from civil marriage and that it violated their constitution (Copeland 105.) But that proved to be untrue. Also, in an article by Peter Edge: “Including Religion: Reflections On Legal, Religious, And Social Implications Of The Developing Ceremonial Law Of Marriage And Civil Partnership,” he states that there was a Civil Partnership Act that was released back in 2004 in the United Kingdom. However, even after the enactment of the act in 2005, Peter concludes that three groups are still not able to take part in religious based ceremonies. These 3 groups consist of: same-sex couples, dissidents and members of smaller/lesser known religious communities. These cases are there to show that even though some states “recognize” the need for same-sex couples and other cases to get married, it does not mean that anything will be done about it. And this kind of treatment, as the state of Hawaii has pointed out, is a hypocritical move if some states choose to take part in, even more so when their constitution proves otherwise.
Following New York City’s example, 18,000 couples were married in the state of California within June 2008 and November 2008. (Dinno 1.) Same-sex couples were no longer denied the opportunity to “elevate” their relationship to the status that they deserve. (Copeland 106.) Some people may argue that such legalization takes away from the “norms” of society. Let me further the explanation by using the previous example of the United States. As I’ve said, the U.S. is considered a Christian country (the majority of the population) so many people believe that the state is the primary generator of a normative meaning. (Copeland 107.) This feared notion of the state allowing LGBT marriages means the state would be saying that this is the new “normal” of society. This “normal” contradicts many of the Christian beliefs and religious customs.
Others also argue that the “legalization of same-sex marriage is positioned as an “assault” seeking to “weaken,” “destroy,” and “undermine” opposite-sex marriage.” (Dinno 2.) Opponents also claim that ‘‘if the definition of marriage between a man and a woman is changed, it would fundamentally redefine its original and historical procreative purpose. Which [all in all] weakens society’s perception of marriage and the importance of having children.” (Dinno 3.) However, couples of different sexes (heterosexuals) and bisexuals across the country have pledged to boycott marriage until it is available to all gender preferences by joining a “National Marriage Boycott.” (Dinno 2.) So not only do some couples encourage the legalization of same-sex individuals to marry but are also putting their own marriage on hold for the sake of such issues.
Moreover, it is not surprising that marriages bring health benefits to the individuals involved. Allowing civil marriage to same-sex couples has been proven to increase their health, happiness and overall work performance. According to Erin Dean’s article “Health and Happiness,” being married has been proven to lower the chances to develop cancer, have heart attacks and experience dementia. Research done by stonewall has found higher rates of mental health problems including depression among the LGBT community (1.) This is important because lesbians were more likely to heavily drink and smoke than other women due to stress. (1.) This article proves that removing these practical difficulties of performing simple acts such as marriage eventually brings about happiness and increased security to well deserving individuals. After considering these statements, one should ask if they are able to stand in the way of someone and their chance to live a happy and healthy life?
Furthermore, to many people a marriage is less important as a civil matter and more important as a religious matter. For them, a marriage is not accepted unless it is between two similar religions and people whom have received “appropriate solemnization by qualiﬁed religious authorities.” (Nichols 2.) So while some people argue that it is against one’s religion to marry the same-sex, others argue that the problem is further expanded to different religions of the same-sex attempting to marry. And at the end of the day, opponents will argue against it in whichever way it is perceived.
In conclusion, acts that practice unjust treatment of any minority communities, whether they are smaller religious groups or gay groups, should be abolished. The discouragement and prohibition of civil marriage has gone far too long, many people are not only suffering mentally, emotionally but also physically for their right of whom to love and often forget that every person is responsible for who they are and whom they can love. Religiously, we are all taught to live with one another in harmony and be accepting of each other. Ethically, we should not judge the other person’s gender preference. The “norms” of society are changing and whether we accept this movement or not is our own opinion.
However, accepting this movement and finding peaceful methods in allowing people of same-sex and different religion to tie the “knot” would be much easier than trying to resist it. Once personal opinions limit another person’s right to happiness and health is when we should draw the line. And finally if you know anyone who is going through a tough time due to this issue or is under malicious acts of homophobia, be supportive and accepting of his or her situation. Also, try to speak out when inequality is being committed because a movement only needs one voice to ignite itself into a change.