Same-sex marriage has societal benefits

With just a few days left to register to vote for the upcoming November elections, and only weeks left before Referendum 74 hits state ballots, the issue of marriage equality has become a common debate. However, the arguments against R74 have proven invalid.

On the supporting side, we hear cries for social justice. On the opposing side, we hear pleas for the well-being of children and the maintenance of moral tradition.

Regarding the welfare of children in same-sex families, conservatives enjoy touting the findings of the recent “New Family Structures” survey, which claimed that children of parents who engage in same-sex relationships often suffer long-term psychological consequences.

If protecting children is not reason for restricting loving, committed couples from getting married, then what is? However, experts argue that this study and others like it are methodologically flawed.

For example, Debra Umberson, University of Texas social science professor and a colleague of the primary author of the research, went so far as to call the study an “irresponsible and reckless representation of social science research.” Anecdotal evidence from children of same-sex couples shows us that these children can be just as happy and healthy as those from traditional households.

This is where we come to moral and faith-based arguments. The American Family Association, a self-proclaimed “pro-family organization,” captures a common argument against same-sex marriage in its statement that, “The homosexual movement’s promotion of same-sex marriage undermines the God-ordained institution of marriage and family.”

But this type of religion-based argument doesn’t work in the pluralistic U.S. culture, where the law has no place in determining individual citizens’ choices to, or not to, follow ideals of any given faith.

In other words, the law should not restrict marriage based on religious definitions for the same reasons that denial of the Messiah shouldn’t be taught in public schools.

The same statement from the AFA also claims that Christians must oppose marriage equality because, “The scripture declares that homosexuality is unnatural and sinful.” Later in their argument, they state that same-sex marriage will “lead to the normalization of even more deviant behavior.”

Arguments of sin, along the same lines of the traditional marriage argument, should be excused due to their basis in religion. This is especially true when many progressive denominations condone same-sex marriage.

Even with plurality of the population’s beliefs regarding homosexuality, those who oppose equality would have us hold conservative religious beliefs above all else. But do we really want the law involved in deciding which religion’s ideals we must follow?

We must retain the sweet American freedom which allows us to practice the ideals of whatever faith one believes in, including no faith at all.

By allowing religion to govern on this issue, we open ourselves up to further  legislation based on religious definitions, whether those definitions be Protestant, Catholic, Muslim, Buddhist or otherwise.

To preserve the spirit of the Constitution, which advocates for unrestricted choice of religion, we must reject faith-based arguments when considering issues of the law.

We must separate faith from government through our vote.

Without proof showing that same-sex marriage harms children, and without faith as a foundation to stand on, there’s no reason not to approve marriage equality in Washington and throughout the United States.

Lindsie Trego

Trego is a junior majoring in journalism and mass communication and English. Comments can be sent to lwagner14@my.whitworth.edu.

Same-sex marriage not an issue of equal rights

Although abortion used to be the most prominent social issue, gay marriage has taken over, sharply dividing the nation. Some, including Julian Bond, head of the NAACP, have likened efforts to legalize gay marriage to the black civil rights movement of the 1960s. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Democratic National Committee Chair, called gay marriage “the civil rights issue of our generation.”  Closer examination, however, reveals that the real question goes far beyond civil rights. In order to be a civil rights violation, discrimination must take place.

On the surface, prohibiting gay marriage appears to be a civil rights violation. However, the first thing to note is that there is no absolute right to marriage, let alone to marry the person whom you love. In an article for the Gospel Coalition, Voddie Baucham, Pastor of Grace Family Baptist Church in Spring, Texas, points out that “people who are already married, 12-year-olds, and people who are too closely related are just a few categories of people routinely and/or categorically denied the right to marry.” None of these restrictions are viewed as civil rights violations.

Second, the ability to marry extends equally to both heterosexuals and homosexuals. A heterosexual male has the right to marry a female, not another male. A homosexual male is in the exact same position. Thus, permitting gay marriage does not equalize rights, but creates new rights specifically for homosexuals.  The real issue is not whether homosexuals are being discriminated against under current law, but whether the definition of marriage itself should be changed to extend new rights to homosexual couples. As Baucham points out, “homosexuals have never been denied the right to marry. They simply haven’t had the right to redefine marriage.” The 2009 Iowa Supreme Court Case Varnum v. Brien provides an excellent example. In this case, the Court overturned Iowa’s definition of marriage as between one man and one woman, although the Court admitted that Iowa’s “marriage statute does not expressly prohibit gay and lesbian persons from marrying; it does, however, require that if they marry, it must be to someone of the opposite sex.” This view does not rectify civil discrimination, it overturns the definition of marriage.

Admittedly, it is possible for same-sex couples to be denied certain privileges because they are not married. However, many states, including Washington, have allowed for civil unions. Supporters of same-sex marriage contend this is not enough and want Washingtonians to approve Referendum 74 this November, which would legalize gay marriage in the state.  However, approving the Referendum “would offer gay couples no additional state right or benefits beyond what they now have under the domestic-partnership law, other than the right to marry,” according to Lornet Turnbull of the Seattle Times.  James Skillen of the Center for Public Justice explains that “the question behind marriage, in other words, is a structural one that precedes lawmaking.” According to an article by Skillen, only after we determine the definition of marriage “can civil rights considerations emerge about how citizens should be treated fairly with respect to marriage.” The real question, then, is: what is marriage? This question transcends the law’s ability to solve. It is a question that pertains to the nature and purpose of humanity itself. In the end, this is a moral and religious issue, and it is to these sources that we must turn for the answer.

Story by Maxford Nelsen Columnist

Nelsen is a senior majoring in political science. Comments can be sent to mnelsen13@my.whitworth.edu.