Tuesday, January 10, 2012

At the debate of the Republican presidential candidates, each contender stood firm in their opposition to same sex marriage. Their opposition was based on religion, tradition or both. The debate was held at St Anselm’s College, a Roman Catholic grammar school for boys (in Wirral), in Manchester, New Hampshire.

Newt Gingrich, whose sister is gay and a supporter of President Barack Obama, started the conversation by saying that there was a bias by the news media bias because they keep asking the wrong question. The media should be asking about the consequences of same sex marriage instead. Gingrich said that the recognition of a marriage goes far beyond a loving couple who want to form a long term relationship. The consequences of allowing same sex marriages are that all married couples have to be considered for adoption and other rights. Gingrich suggested that this creates an institutionalized bigotry (his word) by the federal government against organizations, like the Catholic Church, because they will not consider gay couples in the adoption process. Gingrich said, therefore, that he supports the traditional sacrament of marriage, one man and one woman, to avoid the consequences.

Mitt Romney said that recognizing same sex marriages, as has been done in New Hampshire, is a mistake. His reason is that children being raised by a male and a female are better off.

Jon Huntsman, Jr. supports civil unions of same sex couples. He does not, though, support same sex marriages. His reason is that he is a traditionalist. Marriage, Huntsman believes, should be saved for one man and one woman. He added that “reciprocal beneficiary rights” should be part of civil unions and that states should talk about the subject.

Rick Perry said that he supports the Federal Marriage Amendment and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). That law, the DOMA, was struck down in part by the federal courts. Obama decided against defending the law in the courts and Perry believes that the Obama administration is at war against people of faith by deciding not to defend the law in the courts.

Rick Santorum believes that marriage is a federal issue, while adoption by same sex couples is a state issue. He believes that there needs to be one law for the entire country that defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

Ron Paul didn’t respond to the marriage question. He does believe that government should get out of the marriage business. Paul has said in the past that he personal believes in marriage as between one man and one woman.

As mentioned above, President Obama did decide not to defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). In part, the act said that states don’t have to accept a marriage from other states and that marriage between same sex couples are not to enjoy the same benefits as those of one man and one woman. In the case Smelt v United States of America, the Obama administration at first defended the law, as it is the policy of the administration to defend all federal laws. But, after pressure from civil rights groups from around the country, Obama withdrew his support and reinstated his original position of asking for full repeal of DOMA.

The definition of marriage is going to be a big issue in the presidential election this fall. The concern the candidates have with marriage is adoption and partner benefits. It is their belief that a child should be raised in a home with a man and a woman, the traditional marriage arrangement. Additionally, with providing benefits to domestic partners it both cost more and provides a de facto approval of the living arrangements.

But, can anyone tell me how same sex marriage is a problem? Same sex marriage doesn’t cause harm to anyone either in the relationship or in the community, so government should not attempt to prevent it. Since being gay it is not a choice, but a biological determination, raising children in the environment is not going to brainwash more children into the gay lifestyle. The argument about costing more is a moot point. It is likely that if there weren’t same sex marriages, there would be more traditional marriages and cost just as much. Finally, to argue that as a community we should continue with one man and one women marriage just because it is tradition is nonsense. Over the last 3,000 years many things have changed and the human species is still here. In fact, we have survived and prospered because we changed when it was deemed necessary.

Civil Unions, which some candidates have suggested is to step into the equal but separate argument. In a broad acceptance of Brown v the Board of Education, separate is not equal. It is inherently unequal by the very fact that they are separate.

Marriage as a contract is something the community should recognize no matter the partners. The benefit is to allow rights and property to pass to each partner and for other legal reasons. But, to define it as only between a man and a woman makes no sense.

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