Legislating modern American society, an institutionthat prides
Legislating SexualityOn September 21, 1996, President Bill Clinton signed the Defense ofMarriage Act, a bill proposed by Republican Bob Barr of Georgia in order toprohibit the marriage of gay and lesbian couples.(CWA) Although this billcannot be called “unconstitutional”, by forbidding the marriage of same-sexcouples the government is taking a stand on an issue that does not require itslofty opinion and judgment.
Marriage has long been an institution that wasbased on the love of two individuals and their future together. Whileprocreation is also considered in the definition, there are no laws in oursociety stating that it is necessary, or even important. With this bill, theUnited States government is not defending the “tradition of family” but instead,enforcing prejudice and hatred against a group that is already struggling togain equal rights and acceptance in a society that has long closed itscollective mind to homosexuality.
Since the dawn of American history, equal rights among U.S. citizens hasbeen a hotly debated issue.
With the Civil War and Lincoln’s EmancipationProclamation, slavery was prohibited. Women gained the right to vote with theratification of the Constitution’s nineteenth amendment on August 26, 1920(Cooke,157). Although African Americans gained suffrage through the fifteenth amendmentin 1870 (Cooke, 151), it was not until the passing of the Civil Rights Act of1964 that they were actually freed from discrimination by the government(Cooke,150). Why is it then that in today’s modern American society, an institutionthat prides itself on being “the home of the free and the land of the brave”, avast number of Americans are hiding beneath a shroud of ignorance when it comesto the issue of homosexuality? It seems that the gay community is beingattacked out of fear and intolerance with this new bill, the same vices thatthreatened African Americans and women. It is disturbing that even today, aswe prepare to enter a new millennium, such primitive forces are still at work.Even the title of this bill is offensive, “The Defense of Marriage Act”.It implies that the tradition of marriage must be defended against corruption.
This notion is ridiculous considering that a marriage today should be based onlove between two individuals. There are countless heterosexual marriages thatend in divorce everyday. If people are to argue that the gay community willdestroy marriage, they are mistaken. Marriage has been long destroyed since theadvent of divorce.Another argument in favor of this bill is that marriage should be aunion between a man and a woman for the sake of procreation. This is alsounreasonable because there are many couples today who opt against havingchildren for various personal reasons and yet no one is trying to force thesecouples to have children.
Alas, there is no reason why a gay couple should notbe allowed to adopt a child. Just like marriage, raising a child requiresunconditional love, patience and responsibility, virtues that all peoples,regardless of sexual orientation are capable of fulfilling.The groupssupporting this law also argued that gay love and marriage is not an example of”family values”. The government does not have the right to decree who is livingup to this standard and who isn’t. Simply because a couple happens to be of thesame sex, does not mean that they should not be allowed to raise a family inpeace.
There are too many homes in today’s society that are in shambles for thegovernment to be denying anyone the right to marry. Why the government has allof a sudden felt a need to create yet another stigma/prejudice against gaysevades me. If the powers that be feel that they can legislate way gays afterthey have only recently been afforded the opportunity to express themselves theyare sadly mistaken.
I believe that homosexuality is innate and not a personal”choice” as so many seem to think it is. Homosexuality has prevailed throughthousands of year’s of persecution and discrimination and now that our societyfinally is beginning to accept homosexuals, they are letting their voices beheard. As to why the government or anyone for that matter feels threatened byhomosexuals is a mystery to me. They have never hurt us before, and what makespeople think that by allowing them to marry it will cause harm to our society?If two people love each other, it should be of no one’s concern.Above all, this bill is grossly unnecessary. In a poll taken this pastMay, it was found that thirty-nine percent of American people found this billsuperfluous while another thirty percent of the population were not even sure.Also, seventy-three percent thought that there were more important issues toattend to.
Only thirteen percent found that passing this law should be apriority (Mellman).Aside from The Defense of Marriage Act being unnecessary, it is unfairand prejudiced as well. Laws such as this will separate our country evenfurther and cause even more internal strife. If by enforcing this law thegovernment and conservative groups think they can end the practice ofhomosexuality, they are mistaken. People are not going to change their sexualorientation because of intolerance. It is only through the education of closed-minded groups that any change for the better can come about.
Until this occurs,America is going to sink deeper and deeper into the swelling mire of hatred, allbecause of two people in love.I look forward to the day when the government comes to it’s senses, orrather is forced to do so, and it nullifies this bill. As the homosexual stigmacontinues to wane due to the education and acceptance of the public, the voicein opposition to this bill will continue to grow. For those out there who trulyfeel threatened by homosexuals, I pity them, because now that the ball has begunto roll, it will not be stopped until it reaches it’s goal, that being whenhomosexuals receive the respect and acceptance that has been denied them forages.Works CitedCooke, Edward F. A Detailed Analysis of the Constitution. Lanham, Maryland:Rowman ; Littlefield P, 1995.
The Libertarian Party Of Alachua County, Florida. “Reject ‘ Defense of MarriageAct,’ Libertarians Urge Congress.” . June 5, 1996.The Mellman Group. “Recent Poll Data On the Defense of Marriage Act”.
. June 4, 1996.