the topic should be, "Should same-sex marriages be legally sanctioned".
this is an argumentative essya and below is the information u may need to know more about it before u can start. and also the 2 citation i need. i had to chhose and i had no option. so i already find it and i'll paste it below. since i don't have a fax machine, so i'have to paste it. sorry but anyways the information starts here:
you will be writing an argumentative essay. Keep in mind that the point of argument is to persuade readers into some kind of reasoned belief. You may not change a reader?s mind completely, but you are trying to change your readers? minds at least a little. Even if you simply convince a reader of the validity of your arguments, you have done your job. To accomplish this task, remember that you cannot base your arguments on personal belief or emotion. Keep in mind that the following always from the basis on an argument:
1. a problem exists
2. people disagree about how to solve the problem
3. a claim that revolves around potential change (change, don?t change, partially change)
For this essay, imagine that you are taking part in a conference for students and instructors at community colleges. Think in terms of your audience as those folks attending your conference?basically your peers, myself, and other instructors. Address your arguments to them; make your arguments suitable for that audience.
Remember that all arguments are really based on a problem?we are trying to find the solution to a problem, but we often disagree what the best solution should be. Arguments are a reasoned response to demonstrate why a specific solution should be permitted or used.
Remember that your thesis is the most important part of your essay: make sure you clearly understand the point you want to make before you begin the next steps.
After you develop your claim, decide on a form or strategy that best suits your claim, evidence, and reasoning.Draft your essay based on that organizational strategy.
ok, sorry but heres the copy of what u have to citate and from where, although i copyed u 4 citation, please use only two of them in the essay. i did that incase one dont have much, may be in the other u can find better resources. but please use only 2 out of these 4 since i'm not alowd to use any other than these, or any of the 'www' sites. thanx alot and appreciate your help. here we go, the citations:
citation number 1:
George, Robert P. "One Man and One Woman." Wall Street Journal (Nov. 28, 2003): A8.
Last week, in its ruling in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts by a vote of 4-3 struck down that state's marriage law as "failing to meet the rational basis test for either due process or equal protection." The court gave the Legislature 180 days to revise the law in line with the judges' redefinition of marriage as "the voluntary union of two persons as spouses, to the exclusion of all others." If the Legislature fails within that time frame to direct Massachusetts public officials to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, the court will do it for them.
The ruling has major flaws. First, the judges invented a right of "same-sex marriage" found nowhere in the text, logic or historical understanding of the state constitution. In so doing, they usurped the authority of the people's elected representatives. Second, they ignored the philosophical and social reasons that have, for millennia, provided the "rational basis" for understanding marriage as the covenantal commitment of a man and a woman. Chief among these are the nature of marriage as a "one-flesh union" of sexually complementary spouses, and its value in ensuring that most children are reared with a biological mother and father bound to each other in a covenant shaped by moral obligations of fidelity and exclusivity.
Third, having radically redefined marriage to remove the requirement of sexual complementarity that links marriage as an institution to procreation and helps to provide its intelligible moral structure, the judges failed to provide any "rational basis" for their declaration that marriage should be closed ("to the exclusion of all others"), even if spouses happen to prefer an "open" marriage; nor did they offer any reason for treating marriage as intrinsically limited to two persons. These are the Achilles' heel of the movement for "same-sex marriage." No advocate has been able to identify a principled moral basis for the requirements of fidelity and exclusivity in marriage as they wish to redefine the institution.
What next? Following the lead of Hawaii and Alaska, whose courts tried to impose "same-sex marriage" on those states a few years ago, the citizens of Massachusetts could amend their constitution to define marriage as union of man and woman. The trouble is that in a state so liberal, an amendment to overturn Goodridge may not be politically feasible. In any event, it will be a long, hard slog; and an amendment could not go into effect until 2006, by when there will be hundreds of Massachusetts "same-sex marriages." And in the meantime, the movement to redefine marriage will initiate litigation throughout the country seeking recognition of Massachusetts "same-sex marriages."
The U.S. Constitution requires states to give "full faith and credit" to the "public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other state." Activists will invoke this principle to demand that West Virginia, for example, recognize Massachusetts marriages -- even those that could not lawfully have been contracted in West Virginia. In this way, they will try to use a one-vote victory in Massachusetts to redefine marriage for the entire nation. In the end, the matter will go to the Supreme Court. That's good news for the redefiners. In Lawrence v. Texas, the justices struck down a state law prohibiting homosexual
sodomy in a ruling so broad as to, in the words of dissenting Justice Antonin Scalia, "dismantle the structure of constitutional law that has permitted a distinction to be made between heterosexual and homosexual
unions, insofar as formal recognition in marriage is concerned."
Having in mind the combination of the Massachusetts court's decision in Goodridge and the Supreme Court's ruling in Lawrence, President Bush has vowed to do "whatever is legally necessary to defend the sanctity of marriage" as the union of one man and one woman. What is necessary? Anyone who is alert to the signals being sent by the Supreme Court knows that a federal legislative approach, such as a beefed up Defense of Marriage Act, is doomed. A majority of justices have made clear that they share the view, common in elite circles, that traditional standards of sexual morality are outmoded, and distinctions of any kind between heterosexual and homosexual
conduct are rooted in animus and amount to bigotry. They will strike down any legislative act by which Congress seeks to preserve the traditional understanding of marriage or uphold the authority of states to do so. That leaves but one option: amending the Constitution. The process is daunting, and it requires votes of two-thirds of both houses of Congress followed by ratification by three-quarters (i.e., 38) of the states. Is there any hope that an amendment could succeed?
Yes. The best evidence is that no serious Democratic presidential contender is willing to support "same-sex marriage." Messrs. Kerry, Lieberman, Gephardt, Clark, Edwards -- even Dean -- say they favor "civil unions," but oppose redefining marriage to include same-sex partners. They know that most Americans understand marriage as the union of a man and a woman and want this understanding preserved in their law. To do "whatever is necessary" to preserve it, President Bush will have to lead the fight for a federal marriage amendment. Supporters agree that it should define marriage as the union of a man and a woman. There are differences of opinion, however, on whether an amendment should forbid states from enacting civil unions or domestic partnerships. To forbid such arrangements, some contend, would be to trample on principles of federalism. To fail to forbid them, others reply, would be to protect marriage in name, but not in substance. An amendment that did not prohibit civil unions or domestic partnerships would be merely symbolic.
It is important to protect the substance of marriage, but a sound amendment need not, however, forbid states from enacting certain forms of domestic partnership. It need only ensure that laws do not treat nonmarital sexual relationships as if they were marital by making such relationships the basis for allocating benefits. An amendment protecting the substance of marriage would ensure that neither the federal government nor the states may predicate benefits, privileges, rights or immunities on the existence, recognition or presumption of nonmarital sexual relationships. In other words, domestic partnerships, if states elect to have them, should be nondiscriminatory and inclusive. They should be available to people based on needs, not on sex. The law certainly should not discriminate in favor of those unmarried people who are in sexual relationships over those with the same needs who, though committed to caring for each other, are not sexual partners. Widowed sisters living together and looking after each other, or an unmarried adult son taking care of his elderly father, may have the need for domestic partner benefits such as hospital visitation privileges and insurance rights.
A constitutionally sound domestic partnership law would not discriminate against such people by excluding them from eligibility simply because their relationships are not sexual -- just as a nondiscriminatory and inclusive law would not undermine marriage by treating unmarried sexual partners as if they were married.
citation number: 2
Schlesinger, Jacob. "Gay
-Marriage Issue Is Lifted to New Plane." Wall Street Journal (Nov. 19, 2003): 44.
Washington -- THE CULTURE WARS just went nuclear.
A ruling by Massachusetts' highest court that banning gay
marriage violates the state's constitution will force that state, and by extension the rest of the country, to confront one of the most incendiary social issues on the American political landscape.
Marriage is "among the most basic of every individual's liberty and due-process rights," the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts said in a 4-3 ruling, in response to a lawsuit filed by seven same-sex couples denied marriage licenses by local authorities. The court stopped short of ordering the licenses issued, but it did order the state legislature to draft a law within six months allowing gay
couples to wed in some fashion.
If Massachusetts legalizes gay
marriage, it would be the first state to do so. Following a similar state-court ruling, neighboring Vermont in 2000 enacted the country's first "civil unions" law when Howard Dean, currently the Democratic front-runner in the race for president, was governor. The Vermont law guarantees many of the legal benefits of marriage -- allowing joint insurance, for example -- but doesn't provide a marriage license, so the bond isn't recognized in other states.
The political ramifications of yesterday's ruling could shape the 2004 presidential campaign. Gay
marriage has become a hot-button cultural issue that some voters care about deeply, and either party could try to use it to portray the other as out of touch with the mainstream. The issue has been pushing its way to the fore ever since the U.S. Supreme Court in June overturned laws banning homosexual
sex, prompting indignation from the far right and celebrations on the far left.
Republicans see gay
marriage working to their advantage next year, with polls generally showing a majority of Americans opposed to such weddings and with Republican leaders weighing a constitutional amendment to prohibit them. "It could end up as a wedge issue for Republicans," said Scott Ketter, an analyst at the Pew Research Center, which released a survey yesterday showing that 59% of Americans oppose gay
marriage, while 32% favor it.
President Bush was quick to blast the Massachusetts ruling as violating the "important principle" that "marriage is a sacred institution between a man and a woman." He pledged to "do what is legally necessary to defend the sanctity of marriage." And while he stopped short of backing a constitutional amendment, pro-Republican religious groups said they would ramp up a grass-roots effort for that cause, with the Christian Coalition decrying the "reprehensible" decision of "left-wing judges."
While all the major Democratic presidential candidates have said they are opposed to gay
marriage, they all favor more rights for gay
partners. That is a distinction that Republicans think they will find easy to blur, especially if Democrats are forced to oppose a constitutional amendment limiting marriage to heterosexuals.
Mr. Dean has made Vermont's civil-union law a staple of his campaign and fund-raising letters. Republicans are just as energetically gearing up to make the Vermont law a centerpiece of their campaign against him should he win the nomination.
"We knew the Supreme Court would do anything to help re-elect Bush -- we just didn't know it would be the supreme court of Massachusetts," one Democratic strategist worried yesterday, explaining that the issue "unites Republicans and divides and tortures us."
Still, Republicans risk overplaying their hand and painting themselves as the extremists. "One of people's biggest concerns about the Republican Party is that they are not tolerant, they are divisive, they don't respect people for who they are," said Mark Mellman, pollster for Massachusetts Democratic Sen. John Kerry, one of the party's nine presidential candidates.
Missouri Rep. Richard Gephardt, another presidential contender, tried to paint the issue that way. He issued a statement reiterating his opposition to gay
marriage but pointedly added: "It is my hope that we don't get sidetracked by the right wing into a debate over a phony constitutional amendment." He called such a move "unnecessarily divisive at the expense of those who already suffer from discrimination."
Critics say the constitutional amendment wouldn't just ban gay
marriage but also limit civil rights more broadly for gay
partners. Mr. Gephardt has an openly gay
daughter, and she and her partner have played an increasingly visible role in his campaign, courting the gay
- rights vote.
The issue presents a particular challenge for the Bush administration. Mr. Bush ran in 2000 as a "compassionate conservative" and tried to soften his party's hard image on social issues. One of Vice President Dick Cheney's daughters is gay
, and the Human Rights Campaign, a leading gay
-rights group, widely circulates a statement he made in an October 2000 campaign debate saying, "People should be free to enter into any kind of relationship they want to enter into." Mr. Cheney added that the question of gay
marriage "is a tougher issue . . . not a slam dunk" and concluded that it should be left to individual states.
rights is part of a long list of cultural issues -- along with the death penalty, guns, abortion, affirmative action and the Confederate flag -- that have in recent years sharply divided the two political parties, blocs of voters and regions. Gay
marriage is one of the most potent, mixing religion, civil rights and sex.
The polarizing impact of the issue was evident in the Pew poll, conducted in mid-October, with nearly every demographic group divided.
Of those who considered themselves highly religious, 80% said they opposed gay
marriage, with 12% in favor. The strongest opposition came from white Protestant evangelicals. Those who called themselves "secular" favored gay
marriage by 64% to 28%.
In the East, feelings on gay
marriage were relatively even, with 42% in favor and 50% opposed, while the South opposed it by 67% to 23%. People under 30 were split -- 45% in favor, 46% opposed -- while those over 65 were against, 74% to 13%.
The peril for Democrats was evident in the results showing that Republicans were fairly united against gay
marriage, by 75% to 18%, while Democrats were split. Those calling themselves "liberal Democrats" favored gay
marriage by 59% to 31%, while those who said they were "moderate" or "conservative" were against it 60% to 33%.
And the Pew poll showed that those who oppose gay
marriage tend to feel strongly about the issue, while those in favor don't feel as intensely about it. That means Republicans could use the issue to rally core supporters, such as evangelical Protestants, to the polls, without necessarily turning off people who disagree.
citation number: 3
Thomas, Evan. "The War Over Gay
Marriage." Newsweek (July 7, 2003): 38.
Byline: This story was reported by T. Trent Gegax, Debra Rosenberg, Pat Wingert, Mark Miller, Martha Brant, Stuart Taylor Jr., Tamara Lipper, John Barry, Rebecca Sinderbrand, Sarah Childress and Julie Scelfo. It was written by Evan Thomas.
It was a homey scene. standing in their warm kitchen on a winter's day in 2001, Julie and Hillary Goodridge, a couple for 16 years, played the old Beatles song "All You Need Is Love" for their young daughter, Annie. Hillary asked Annie if she knew any people who loved each other. The little girl rattled off the names of her mothers' married friends, heterosexuals all. "What about Mommy and Ma?" asked Hillary. "Well," the child replied, "if you loved each other you'd get married."
That did it. "My heart just dropped," said Hillary. The gay
couple headed for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to get a marriage license. Julie was optimistic, Hillary less so. "I thought we'd be led away in handcuffs," Hillary recalled. Blood tests and $30 in hand, they anxiously asked for an application. "No, you're not allowed to," responded the woman behind the counter. "I'll need two grooms first." Hillary and Julie asked to speak to the department's director. The woman politely told them, "No, you can't get married, and there's nothing you can do about it."
Actually, there was. With the help of the Gay
& Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), Hillary and Julie sued for the right to be legally wed. Any day now, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court is expected to decide their case. No court in America has ever recognized gay
marital vows. But last week Hillary and Julie--and every gay
person who wants to be married or adopt a child or hold a job or receive a government benefit or simply enjoy the right to be respected--received a tremendous boost from the highest court in the land.
The outcome of Lawrence et al. v. Texas, handed down on the final day of the Supreme Court's 2002-2003 term, was not unexpected. In a Houston apartment five years ago, Tyron Garner and John Geddes Lawrence had been arrested by police for performing a homosexual
act and fined $200. By a 6-3 vote, the high court struck down the Texas anti-sodomy law. In some ways, the Supreme Court was just catching up to public opinion. In 1986, in Bowers v. Hardwick, a decision that lived in infamy among gays
in America, the court had upheld a Georgia anti-sodomy law. At the time, 25 states had such laws. Some 17 years later, only four states banned sodomy between homosexuals (an additional nine states had laws, on the books but rarely enforced, barring sodomy between any sexual partners).
What stunned court watchers--and what promises to change forever the status of homosexuals in America--was the far reach of the court's reasoning. Gays
"are entitled to respect for their private lives," said Justice Anthony Kennedy, reading from his majority opinion from the high court's mahogany bench. His voice was quiet and he seemed a little nervous, but his words rang with lasting meaning. Under the due-process clause of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, Kennedy ruled, gays
were entitled to a right of privacy. "The state cannot demean their existence or control their destiny by making their private sexual conduct a crime," said Kennedy. In the crowded courtroom, some of the gay
activists and lawyers silently but visibly wept as they listened.
Justice Kennedy's ruling in the Lawrence case "may be one of the two most important opinions of the last 100 years," says David Garrow, legal scholar at Emory University and Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer of Martin Luther King Jr. "It's the most libertarian majority opinion ever issued by the Supreme Court. It's arguably bigger than Roe v. Wade," said Garrow, referring to the 1973 Supreme Court decision giving women a right to abortion. At least in symbolic terms, Garrow put the decision on a par with Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark 1954 ruling declaring that separate was not equal in the nation's public schools.
But it may be years before the ripple effects of Lawrence are felt. Just as schools were still segregated in parts of the South a decade after the Brown decision, it is likely that attempts to give gays
true legal equality with heterosexuals will encounter fierce resistance from people and institutions that still regard homosexuality
as morally deviant. The battle--over gay
marriage, gay adoption
in the military and gays
in the workplace--will be fought out court to court, state to state for years to come. Nonetheless, there is no question that the Lawrence case represents a sea change, not just in the Supreme Court, a normally cautious institution, but also in society as a whole.
In 1986, when the court had ruled in the Bowers case, Justice Byron White curtly dismissed the argument that the Constitution protected the right of homosexuals to have sex in their own homes. Writing for the majority of justices, White had called such an assertion "facetious." But social norms have been transformed over the past two decades. How mainstream is the idea of "gay
rights"? Of the six justices who voted to strike down laws against homosexual
sodomy, four were appointed by Republican presidents. (Kennedy, David Souter and John Paul Stevens all subscribed to a right of privacy for gays
; Justice Sandra Day O'Connor stuck to the narrower ground that it was unfair to punish gays
but not heterosexuals for sodomy.) Polls showed that the justices have public opinion behind them: some six out of 10 Americans believe that homosexual
sex between consenting adults should be legal.
One veteran gay
activist could sense the change in the attitudes of the justices. Kevin Cathcart, executive director of the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, has been part of a small but determined circle of lawyers plotting gay
-rights strategy since 1984. In the past, he had to deal with what he called the "ick factor"--the revulsion some heterosexuals feel about --homosexual
acts. "The Kennedy opinion not only does not have an ick factor," says Cathcart, "but is almost an apology for the ick factor 17 years ago."
One justice was still full of disgust. In a biting, sarcastic voice, Justice Antonin Scalia read his dissent from the bench. He denounced his colleagues for "taking sides in the culture war." He accused the court's majority of having "largely signed on to the so-called homosexual
agenda." Most Americans, Scalia warned, "do not want persons who openly engage in homosexual
conduct as partners in their business, as scout-masters for their children, as teachers in their children's schools, or as boarders in their homes." Scalia predicted that the court's decision would cause "a massive disruption of the current social order" by calling into question the government's right to legislate morality. While noting the majority's statement that the case did not involve gay
marriage, Scalia scoffed, "Do not believe it."
Scalia's fulmination was impressive, but (as even he might privately concede) it was also an overstatement of the legal and political reality, at least for the immediate future. While gays
can now claim some constitutional protection--their new right to privacy under the Lawrence decision--the federal government and the states can override those rights if they have a good enough reason, a "legitimate state interest." Thus, national security could trump privacy in the military and preserve the Pentagon's "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays
. Or the state's interest in preserving "traditional institutions"--like marriage between different-sex couples--might overcome a homosexual
's right to not be "demeaned," as Justice Kennedy put it. After Lawrence, gays
can no longer be branded as criminals. But that does not mean they will enjoy all the rights of "straight" citizens. The current Supreme Court has shown, albeit erratically, a federalist streak: it will not lightly trample "states' rights"--that is, second-guess the power of states to make up their own rules, especially if popular opinion is running strong.
Inevitably, politics will play a role. Some conservative groups were apoplectic. "People of faith are not going to lie down and allow their faith to be trampled because a politically correct court has run amok," promised the Rev. Lou Sheldon, president of the Traditional Values Coalition. He offered a hint of the battles that lie ahead when a vacancy opens up on the high court. "In this court, you do not have friends of the Judeo-Christian standard. We know who our friends are. And we know who needs to be replaced," said Sheldon. Sandy Rios, president of the Concerned Women for America, predicted moral Armageddon. "We're opening up a complete Pandora's box," she said. Some conservatives, including Justice Scalia, warned that the court's decision would undermine laws barring bigamy, incest and prostitution.
Maybe. But states will still be able to ban sexual practices that are obviously hurtful or exploitative of women or minors. Nonetheless, the fear of legalized wantonness will quickly become a campaign issue. Last week the White House--which decided not to file a brief in the case--was taking cover; White House spokesman Ari Fleischer defensively mumbled that gay
rights were a matter for the states to decide. Bush's political handlers were fearful of alienating either gay
voters or the legion of Christian conservatives who provided Bush with his electoral base in 2000. "Bush officials apparently think homosexual
activists make better leaders than the conservative activists who delivered millions of votes," taunted Bob Knight, director of the conservative Culture and Family Institute.
The fight over gay
rights could easily become a "wedge issue" in the 2004 presidential campaign, though Democrats, too, will be wary of getting ahead of public opinion. For the most part, gay
rights will be fought out at the local and state level. The struggle will be protracted and there may be a real backlash. An overview of the main battlegrounds:
Marriage. Although gay
couples routinely have commitment ceremonies and The New York Times wedding pages now run photos of gay
and lesbian pairings, no state in the country recognizes or grants gay
marriages. (Churches are badly split, with some denominations honoring same-sex un-ions and others vehemently opposing them.) Vermont comes the closest of any state with "civil unions" that bestow many of the same rights and responsibilities as marriage, but give it a different name--for purely political reasons. A few other states, most notably Massachusetts and California, seem to be edging toward the recognition of gay
either by legislation or judicial fiat. But the stronger movement, at least for now, appears to be in the other direction. Some 37 states--and the federal government--have adopted "Defense of Marriage Acts," which define marriage as applying only to a man and a woman, and--significantly--bar recognition of same-sex marriage from other states.
These laws will inevitably be challenged in the courts under the Lawrence decision. On June 11, a court in Ontario, Canada, ruled that same-sex marriages are legal (they are also legal in the Netherlands and Belgium). Last weekend in Toronto, during the city's Gay
Pride celebration, the city's marriage office stayed open for extended hours. A dozen of the first 200 customers were Americans who had driven across the border. Legal experts are divided over whether a gay
couple with a Canadian marriage license will be recognized back in the States, but they are sure that sooner or later the issue of gay
marriage will wind up in the Supreme Court, though probably not for several years.
By then the court may be, as the saying goes, following the election returns. Gary Bauer, the president of American Values and a former presidential candidate, warned that if the Republicans do not take a stand against gay
marriage in the 2004 election, then GOP "family values" activists might just sit home rather than work for the party. On the other hand, Bush may pick up votes from libertarians and Republican moderates (the "soccer moms") if he is seen as being compassionate or tolerant of different sexual orientations.
and Custody. Most states now permit single gays
to adopt children. Resistance to gay adoption
has waned as studies show that children raised by gays
look a lot like those raised by straights--and are no more or less likely to be gay
. Still, only 11 states permit same-sex couples to adopt children. The rest of the states are a patchwork of conflicting rules. Florida, swayed by Anita Bryant's 1977 "Save the Children" campaign, is the most restrictive, banning adoption
by any gay
or lesbian individuals. That law, based largely on moral disapproval, seems vulnerable after Lawrence.
The most immediate impact of Lawrence will be on custody battles. One Virginia judge, for instance, asked a lesbian to detail her homosexual
acts in court testimony and then told her she would lose her child because her behavior was immoral. That sort of reasoning will likely no longer pass constitutional muster.
in the Workplace, Schools and the Military. Big employers have already gotten the message. In 1992 only one of the Fortune 500 companies offered benefits to gay
partners. Today the number is 197, including 27 of the top 50. Unfounded worries about getting tagged with massive AIDS bills have been replaced by top companies' desire to compete for gay
Schools and the military will be slower going. Teachers fear harassment or retribution if they support student efforts to form "gay
-straight alliances" (even so, there are some 1,700 pro-tolerance clubs in 50 states). The Pentagon will argue that "unit cohesion" will suffer if gays
are openly tolerated in the military. Part of the underlying legal basis for the armed services' restrictive "don't ask, don't tell" policy, a federal anti-sodomy law, is likely to be struck down. Still, the courts are very reluctant to interfere with the military.
Despite the challenges ahead, the alliance of gay
lawyers who have been working for two decades to overturn discriminatory laws can feel the ground shifting beneath their feet. Last week Susan Sommer, the supervising attorney at the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, went to an early court hearing in a case aimed at overturning New Jersey's ban on gay
marriages. The U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Lawrence "didn't come up," she noted. "But now I feel like when I walk in the courtroom I've got a powerful symbol on our side, the ringing words of Justice Kennedy that Bowers v. Hardwick had demeaned gay
Lambda is trying to soften up public opinion with town-hall meetings designed to show that gay
families are good for the community. "The town halls we're doing tell people, 'Hey, we're just like anyone else--a middle-class, hometown suburban couple that's been called boring'," says Cindy Meneghin, 45, who with her partner, Maureen Kilian, also 45, and their two children, Joshua, 10, and Sarah, 8, are suing to be recognized as a legal family in New Jersey. "You can't look at our beautiful, charming kids and not notice that we're a family, and the myths start tumbling down. What we've found is that people get to know us as people with families and kids, that I coach soccer and take pictures, and Maureen is the best dessert maker in town, and, oh yes, Maureen and Cindy are a gay
At their home in the liberal Boston enclave of Jamaica Plain, Julie and Hillary Goodridge (who adopted the common last name from Hillary's grandmother because it sounded "positive") have found acceptance--except for the time a bunch of high-school kids urinated on their car and yelled "Dyke!" Last week Julie sat down with their daughter, Annie, to explain the Lawrence decision. "I had to do it without talking about sodomy," said Julie. "I mean, she's only 7 and three quarters!" "The Supreme Court made an important decision yesterday," Julie told Annie. "They said it was OK for lesbians and gays
to love each other." "That's good," said Annie. But she still wants her parents to be married.
citation number: 4
"Mass Appeal." New Republic (Dec. 1 & 8, 2003): 9.
On tuesday, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court finally ruled in the case of Goodridge, et al. v. Department of Public Health. In a four-three decision, the court found that denying gay
citizens the right to marry was a violation of the state's constitution. The media and political coverage that followed focused almost exclusively on the potential political ramifications: How would the Democrats and President
Bush respond, what would happen in the Massachusetts state legislature, and so on. There will be time for that discussion. But the ruling presents a more immediate question: Do its arguments stand up under scrutiny? Are equal rights in civil marriage something we should support or oppose?
Reading the decision, the conclusion is obvious. Even the dissenters essentially conceded the majority's superior reasoning on the case's substance, differing instead on the proper role of the courts in this arena. That is not a matter to be dismissed lightly, but those concerned about justices imposing their views on a reticent populace should take note of several polls suggesting that at least half of Massachusetts residents support gay
marriage. And the key question is not about judicial overreach but whether there is any justification for refusing homosexuals the right to marry.
Social conservatives have argued that denying homosexuals license to marry does not violate their civil rights because they could choose to avoid discrimination: That is, they could choose to be gay
, or they could choose to get married. But the court acknowledged, as the U.S. Supreme Court did earlier this year in Lawrence v. Texas, that homosexual
citizens are not merely heterosexuals in disguise. The court upheld that sexual orientation is hardwired, not a matter of choice.
What remaining basis is there for denying homosexuals the right to civil marriage? The primary reason the state of Massachusetts gave is that marriage is linked to procreation, and, since gay
couples cannot procreate by themselves, they are ineligible for marriage. But there are millions of married couples in this country who have no children and desire no children--and yet we do not deny them the legal protections of civil marriage. As a matter of law, Massachusetts has no legal requirement that a couple commit to procreation in order to get a marriage license. The state's main case collapses upon the most casual inspection.
Moreover, the court also acknowledged, in the words of Justice Earl Warren, that "the freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men." It is guaranteed under the Constitution to aliens and deadbeat dads, to people of every religion and none. Even when citizens can be denied the right to vote--as convicted felons in many states are--they are still guaranteed the right to marry. Excluding gay
citizens is therefore an astonishing denial of a basic civil right.
We do not know where this debate is going. But we do know, as the Goodridge case shows beyond doubt, that the arguments against equal marriage rights are so weak that they should not carry the day. We see no way in which allowing gay
citizens to marry could have a negative social effect. On the contrary. By bringing a marginalized group of people within the unifying fold of family and common citizenship, we both strengthen marriage and strengthen society.
We are not dealing with religious issues here. This is about civil--not religious--marriage, and the principle of our civil order should be equality. The president is out of bounds in declaring any secular institution "sacred." Moreover, the religious right's attempts to respond to Goodridge by getting the federal government to quash decisions of individual states, through constitutional amendment or congressional legislation, violate a basic principle of marriage law in this country: that it is a matter for states and states alone. We have long suspected that the religious right's alleged support for federalism was always a disguise for its sectarian agenda and would collapse the minute a state wanted to do something its members disliked. Now we know.
Tuesday was a landmark day, an advance in the great, unfinished journey of equal dignity and equal rights for all citizens. We urge everyone to see beneath the political posturing to this simple and powerful truth. Citizenship is indivisible. Equality is non-negotiable. We urge the Democratic Party and the Democratic presidential candidates to affirm this truth, not as some sop to a special interest but as a statement of fundamental principle. And we urge all people of goodwill to make this battle their own.
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