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Domonique Tristan
Professor Collins
ENGL 1301
31 October 2016
Equal Rights
Until its legalization in 2015, same sex marriage was a cultural taboo. According to
William Eskridge, an author published by Yale, throughout Americas history the social norm for
marriage was a promise between one man and one woman. This definition of marriage was set
during a time when American life was based upon religious beliefs, so same sex marriage was
not recognized and was thought to be sinful and immoral. Although this is still the definition of
marriage for some Americans, many people have come to accept same sex marriage as an
extension to this definition (Eskridge). Same sex marriage has become relevant because it has
created controversy between those that believe that its legalization is erroneous and those that
support the idea that marriage is a personal right.
Those supporting same sex marriage rights believe that marriage is a part of everyones
basic civil rights. Advocates of same sex marriage argue that gay and lesbian couples should be
entitled to the same right as heterosexual couples because it would be extending basic civil
rights to gays and lesbian couples (Becker). The author defines marriage as a basic civil right
and by doing this, she claims that by not granting legitimacy to same sex marriages gays and
lesbians are being denied their fundamental rights as Americans. This claim brings attention to
the hypocrisy in Americans being activists of freedom and civil rights while a minority of their
people are being denied the chance to experience the values America was built on. By exposing

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this injustice, the author makes granting equal rights to same sex marriages seem like the morally
correct option.
Another argument supporters of same sex marriage bring forth is that partners of same
sex marriages are no different from partners of a heterosexual marriage, yet they do not receive
the same marital benefits. According to Robin Knowles and Stanley Veliotis, a professor of
accounting and a professor of taxation, when it comes to spouses of same sex marriages
receiving their partners retirement or Social Security benefits there are complications. Because
some insurance policies are regulated by the federal government, it is not always possible for
partners of same sex marriage. The federal government defines marriage as one man and one
woman, so under federal law spouses in a same sex marriage are considered two single people
even though they are in fact married. This prevents same sex couples from filing their federal
income tax returns as married, and it can lead to them paying more taxes (Knowles and Veliotis).
By restricting the definition of marriage, the federal government disservices same sex spouses. If
one spouse were to pass away, the other would not be entitled to their spouses belongings or
trust because they are not viewed as partners by the federal government. This can be an issue
because it leaves the remaining partner with no financial stability or say in what happens to their
partner and their partners belongings. If the government has the authority to define and set the
standard for marriage, then they have to authority to specifically tell Americans who they can
and cannot marry. Because the government does not have the right to tell Americans who to
marry, they should not have the authority to rebuke same sex marriages just because they are not
the traditional depiction of marriage. This is why supporters of personal rights support same sex

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Those in opposition to same sex marriage suggest that the ability to procreate is necessary
in a marriage. According to Michael Woodford, a professor of religion, one argument against
same sex marriage is the couples inability to reproduce which is a standard condition of
marriage. Because same sex couples cannot reproduce without extensive medical assistance, to
some people their marriage is insufficient. Without being able to procreate, there is essentially on
hope for a family for same sex couples unless they adopt. By using this indisputable scientific
evidence opposers are able to suggest that same sex marriage is unnatural and flawed.
Another argument used to oppose same sex marriage is the contradiction it presents to
religious beliefs. The Catholic Church [has] been directly involved in the legal battle in
California. The Catholic Church has been donating money to support Preposition 8, the ballot
initiative that made only heterosexual marriage legal (Woodford and Walls). Even the Churchs
open support for speakers and legislation against same sex marriage has an influence on all
people. The Church is viewed as a holy and sacred assembly, so people may follow the decisions
of the Church simply because they think it will grant them sanctity. Most Catholics have always
been against same sex marriage because their religion defines marriage as a commitment
between a man and a woman; this clearly defined meaning of marriage prevents Catholics from
recognizing a marriage between partners of the same sex. Because the religion believes this,
same sex marriage is viewed as sinful and morally wrong in the Catholic Church.
Same sex marriage has continued to be a controversial topic because some people believe
that all couples should receive equal marital rights to heterosexual couples while others believe
that it should not be legal based on their religious beliefs and definition of a family. Because of
these two very different viewpoints, the two sides will never agree on the legality of same sex

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Works Cited
Becker, Amy B. "What's Marriage (And Family) Got To Do With It? Support For Same-Sex
Marriage, Legal Unions, And Gay And Lesbian Couples Raising Children." Social
Science Quarterly (Wiley-Blackwell) 93.4 (2012): 1007-1029. Business Source Complete.
Accessed. 12 Oct. 2016.
Eskridge, William N. A History of Same Sex Marriage by William N. Eskridge Jr. Site,
Knowles, Robin L., and Stanley Veliotis. "Financial Planning Roadmap For Non-Traditional
Couples." Journal Of Financial Planning 25.7 (2012): 48-53. Business Source Complete.
Accessed. 12 Oct. 2016.
Woodford, Michael R., N. Eugene Walls, and Denise L. Levy. "Religion And Endorsement Of
Same-Sex Marriage: The Role Of Syncretism Between Denominational Teachings About
Homosexuality And Personal Religious Beliefs." Interdisciplinary Journal Of Research
On Religion 8.(2012): 1-29. Academic Search Complete. Accessed. 17 Oct. 2016.