Gay Marriage: To Legalize or Not To Legalize

by Maggie Hansen

Whether or not gay marriage should be legal is currently a popular debate. Gay marriage is the union between two people of the same gender. Currently, gay marriage is legal in 33 states. However, 17 states still have gay marriage bans, whether it is through laws, constitutional amendments, or both. The debate on whether or not to recognize the marriage between two people of the same gender takes into account civil rights, political, and social issues. I chose this debate because I can relate to it because I know gay couples that are affected by these laws. I believe that gay marriage should be legal in every state. Marriage is not about gender; it is about love. Discriminating against gay couples is just as bad as discriminating against different races. Opponents of legalizing gay marriage do not have any valid arguments as to why gay marriage should not be legal. Everyone deserves the freedom to marry the person they love.

Civil rights are the rights of citizens to social and political freedom and equality. Procon.org states that the 1967 Supreme Court case Loving v. Virginia confirmed that “marriage is one of the basic civil rights of man.” This ruling was regarding interracial marriages. However, there is no reason this should not be applied to same-sex marriage. Legalizing same-sex marriage would confirm that LGBT people are valuable members of society. According to Murray Lipp, writer for the Huffington Post, millions of LGBT people contribute daily to America, and the USA would greatly suffer from the withdrawal of their many contributions. Heterosexual Americans discriminate against homosexual individuals because they do not view them as their equals. Laws prohibiting same-sex marriage imply that homosexuals are less worthy of freedom than heterosexuals. Legalizing same-sex marriage would give homosexuals equal rights. It would reduce prejudice and encourage diversity, which is what America claims to favor.

Laws must evolve with society. Today, society is much more accepting of less traditional marriages than it used to be. In the past, most marriages were between a man and a woman of the same race. Then, it became more likely for marriages to be interracial. Now, there are many same-sex couples that would be married if they had the rights they deserve. The recent rise in support for legalizing gay marriage is one of the largest changes of opinion regarding any policy. According to a recent survey done by Pew Research, 70% of “Millennials,” or people born since 1980 that are age 18-32 today, are in favor of same-sex marriage. Support for same-sex marriage has not only risen in Millennials, but also among older generations. Pew Research conducted another survey to better understand the shift in support of same-sex marriage. According to this survey, about one in five people say they changed their mind to support gay marriage because the world has changed and this kind of shift is inevitable. Many Americans are aware that they have to learn to be accepting of people and their choices. Homosexuals are not going to become heterosexuals because they are not able to get married. Why not allow them to marry the person they love?

Homosexuals feel discriminated against because they do not have the same rights as heterosexuals, which leads to insecurity. They may feel as though there is something wrong with them because of the way they are treated by other people. Insecurity is detrimental to mental health and can lead to unwanted additional stress. It has been found that banning gay marriage may directly increase psychological disorders. According to Shankar Vedantam, when states passed laws to prohibit same-sex marriage, the mental health of gay residents seemed to suffer, while stress-related disorders dropped in at least one state after gay marriage was legalized. Not only do homosexuals suffer from stress, but also they are not able to experience the mental health benefits that marriage provides. Couples are able to support each other and provide each other with mental stability. Homosexuals deserve the same benefits that married couples receive. They should not suffer because of the opinion of other people.

Opponents of gay marriage argue that children of gay parents have issues throughout their life. This would be a valid argument because children are the future. However, this is not true. A study published in Pediatrics found that children of lesbian mothers were rated higher than children of heterosexual couples in social and academic competence and had fewer social problems. A stable marriage, regardless of who the marriage is between, fosters the wellbeing of children. Gay couples are able to provide a suitable home for raising children, who would otherwise remain in foster care. The lack of support of gay marriage sends a message to children of homosexual couples that their parents are inferior to heterosexual couples. If same-sex marriage were legal, it would support the stability of same-sex couples and provide a home for many children in foster care.

Marriage equality has an economic incentive as well. According to Jillian Berman, writer for the Huffington Post, it would help curb the deficit, boost tax revenues, alleviate payroll headaches for businesses, boost struggling state economies, and cut spending on government safety net programs. Same-sex marriage would bring in 20 to 40 million more dollars per year in tax revenue. When NYC legalized gay marriage, they brought in large revenues due to license fees and wedding-related spending. Relating to headaches for businesses, the different tax laws create administrative hurdles. Studies have shown that if California legalized gay marriage, it would generate 123 million dollars in the first three years. Also, marriage makes people more financially stable. Therefore, they do not need help from the government. Legalizing same-sex marriage is an easy way to help our economy.

While some religions do not support same-sex marriage, this should not be taken into account. Americans have the freedom to decide and practice their own religion free of influence from the government. The argument that God does not believe in same-sex marriage is irrelevant. Not every American believes in God. Also, it can be argued that God accepts homosexuals because God loves everyone. Therefore, many people that do believe in God do not oppose same-sex marriage. No single religion should be taken into account when making laws because every religion is of equal importance in a society with freedom of religion. It is not fair to discriminate against same-sex marriage due to the beliefs of any religion.

America is supposed to be the land of the free. People from around the world come to America to build better lives for themselves. If discrimination continues to exist in America, it will not fulfill its full potential as a nation. Homosexuals are people just like heterosexuals, and they deserve equal rights. Evidently, many Americans realize that it is wrong to discriminate against same-sex couples, considering gay marriage is now legal in 33 states. Hopefully one day soon same-sex marriage will be legal everywhere in America.

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