When President Obama came out in support of gay marriage, he ignited the ever-present controversy surrounding same-sex unions. He did so seemingly days before Chick-fil-A COO Dan Cathy revealed his personal opinions on gay marriage.
Amongst all the emotion and controversy, an important issue arises: How does America deal with gay marriage? Should the federal government intervene, guaranteeing marriage equality to same-sex couples across America? Or, should each state decide for itself the constitutionality of marriage?
Regarding the delicacies of gay marriage, President Obama said, “I continue to believe that this is an issue that is going to be worked out at the local level, because historically, this has not been a federal issue, what’s recognized as a marriage.”
Even former President Bill Clinton, whose administration signed the Defense of Marriage Act into law, does not believe that marriage is at all a “federal question,” according to The Nation.
Back in 2008, the majority of Californians voted to discontinue extending marriage rights to gays through Proposition 8. Was this rejection of gay marriage about benefit formalities and tax breaks? No, Californians voted to deny marriage rights to gays because Californian culture rejected same-sex normalization.
According to CNN, Proposition 8’s exit polls revealed that those who went to church weekly voted for the proposition at an astounding 83 percent, a number that suggests opposition to gay marriage in California was, in fact, based on the religious philosophies of marriage — not the formalities of marriage benefits.
Ultimately, gay marriage activists want two things: the same benefits granted to couples within the bond of marriage and a unanimous, cultural agreement that the gay lifestyle is normal — a goal that is consistent with their longing to be included between the sanctity of marriage and law. At first glance, it appears that the federal government should decide how to deal with gay marriage, since the benefits received by married couples are federal benefits.
But when gay marriage activists call for a forced normalization of their lifestyle within a culture that rejects it, they turn marriage benefits into an entirely new set of issues. It becomes the perfect instrument that plays above fiscal issues and onto cultural ground because it addresses questions of what is “right” and “normal.”
Who is the federal government to decide, with evident tyranny, what is acceptable for all, when its constituents are so uniquely diverse based on heritage and geopolitical atmosphere?
Opponents, however, argue that by letting states take control of marriage laws, America will develop into a nation of “patchwork” civil rights. But gay marriage is not a civil right simply because it never has been. Marriage has never been amended to include same-sex couples until recently. The right to live freely as a gay citizen — even live with a gay partner in a domestic partnership — is not denied to gays and lesbians.
This reoccurring idea that “rights” are denied to same-sex couples wishing to wed is simply another way to draw attention to the unequal fiscal benefits within marriage. It has nothing to do with the right to be together, or the right to live freely.
Activists also argue that the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment protects gay marriage. However, the clause says nothing of the sort. It guarantees life, liberty, and property to U.S. citizens and promises that our government will guarantee equal protection of those rights to all citizens. It explicitly remains quiet about marriage.
Most of my fellow columnist’s arguments point to the unequal federal benefits of marriages and domestic partnerships. If benefits were entirely the issue, gay marriage would not be a big deal. It’s the fact that activists want the title “marriage.” It represents their desire to change American culture by changing marriage, normalizing their alternative lifestyle in a historically Christian nation.
Gay marriage – a sensitive and personal issue to many – is most delicately and accurately handled at a level that is closest to the citizens of each individual state. Since civil rights aren’t being denied to anyone, let each state decide whether or not to radically change its society.
Reach the columnist at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow the columnist @sean_mccauley
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