Supporting Same-sex Marriage

by Greg Nicholson | 7/23/96 5:00am

The U.S. House of Representatives voted on Friday to not recognize same-sex marriages, to allow states to do the same, and to allow states not to recognize a same-sex marriage that occurred in another state. It is not surprising that they did this, given that a majority of the public supported the action and in this election year, President Clinton does not feel able to veto the measure. However, the logic with which some Congressmen supported this bill is shocking, faulty, and points to the bigotry behind the legislation.

Many legislators pointed to the sanctity of marriage in supporting this bill. Representative Steve Largent, a Republican of Oklahoma said of the same sex marriage; "It is a frontal assault on the institution of marriage and if successful will demolish the institution." His sentiment that the marriage of two people of the same sex would compromise the institute of marriage that heterosexuals participate in was echoed by many others. However, I fail to see this logic at all. How can the union of two people committed to each other in love and willing to devote their lives to one another undermine the institution of marriage, isn't this exactly what the institution of marriage is based upon? Massachusetts Representative Barney Frank put this in another, more personal way; "how does the fact that I love another man and live in a committed relationship with him threaten your marriage?"

It doesn't, of course, no loving relationship between two people threatens the institution of marriage, unless they remain unmarried. Thus, recognizing the union of two people of the same sex really strengthens the institution of marriage. It affirms the principles of marriage and lowers the number of people living outside, or in defiance, of the institution.

The only way in which the argument of Largent and others makes logical sense is if they do not consider homosexuals to be people. Then, of course, recognizing the union of two less than humans as marriage would threaten the institution. Largent doesn't specifically say this, he might even deny he believes something so extreme, but the logic is there. In fact, it is this same logic, that a particular group of people is not fully human, that has been used throughout history to deny rights to any number of minorities. Over the passage of time the majority of people have come to recognize the ludicrous nature of this argument: It is simply obvious that Jewish, Native American and African people, to name a few, are just as human as those who oppressed them. Well, it is just as obvious that homosexuals are as human as the rest of us too. A homosexual person could say, just as Shylock did in Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice," "If you prick us, do we not bleed? if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison us, do we not die?" Homosexuals are human, and thus, the assertion that same-sex marriages undermine marriage is not accurate. There is nothing behind this legislation but bigotry.

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