|Honorable Mention: Best Same-Sex Marriage
"The Legalization of Same-Sex Marriage"
By Rhonda Elwess - NE
2012 KarMel Scholarship Submission
Description of Submission:
"An essay that refutes three of the main reasons people give against the legalization of same-sex marriages." -
Why Karen and Melody Liked It:
We like how it simply explains why we should legalize gay marriages.
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When I was middle school age, I attended a small country school. One of the other kids that went to school
there was a boy who is gay. Almost all of the kids made fun of him for being “girly.” I am ashamed to say that I
followed the crowd and made fun of him too. Even though he was a nice guy, I thought he was weird and so, I
made fun of him.
During my high school years, this boy and I became friends. I came to realize that his being different did
not mean anything. It did not mean that one of us was better than the other, it just meant we were different. By
the time I graduated high school, I had become much more open to the idea of homosexuals.
When I started college, I became friends with this girl. She hangs out with me and my other friends. She
jokes with us. She talks with us about who she thinks is hot. She wants to get married someday. She is a
normal person. She is just like any of my other friends, except that she is a lesbian.
Both this boy and this girl are kind, loving people, however, because they are homosexual they cannot
currently make the decision to get married to someone they love and have that marriage be recognized
throughout the United States. This basic right that most people never even think about is denied to my friends
and many others because of who they love. This is why I feel that same-sex marriage should be legalized.
Unfortunately, some people come up with various reasons why same-sex marriage should not be allowed.
1. Same-sex parent families are harmful to children. One major concern with same-sex marriage is the
affect such families will have on the kids raised in them. Unfortunately, my opponents’ argument is a non
sequitur (stereotyping) logical fallacy. My opponents assume that any and all homosexual families are
invariably going to be bad for children to grow up in. The article “Homosexuals Should Not Have Greater
Parental Rights” by Human Events declares “absolutely no long-term studies […] have been conducted to
determine if children reared in homosexual homes grow up to be well adjusted” (194-5). This may well be true.
But the lack of long-term studies is due to the fact that it was not until recently that any children were raised in
homosexual households. It is impossible to have long-term studies on something that has not been an issue
long enough for long-term studies to have been conducted. Also I would like to point out that a lack of studies
does not mean that something is bad, it just means that it has not been studied. Just because we do not have
long-term studies showing that children reared in homosexual homes grow up to be well adjusted does not
mean that it cannot be true.
Long-term studies are not the only kind of studies, though. There have been several studies conducted on
the effects of same-sex parents on children. In her essay “Children of Lesbian and Gay Parents: Summary of
Research Findings,” Charlotte Patterson states “In all studies, the great majority of offspring of both gay fathers
and lesbian mothers describe themselves as heterosexual” (244). These results show that, contrary to what
some people believe, children raised by homosexuals are no more likely than children raised by heterosexuals
to be gay or lesbian or even bisexual. The sexual orientation of children is not adversely affected by the fact
that they are raised by homosexuals. There is a similar lack of adverse effects on sexual orientation caused by
the fact that they are raised by two parents of the same sex rather than parents of opposite sexes.
One of the main reasons that many people feel that same-sex parents are harmful to children is because
they believe that children need a parent of either sex in order to develop properly. In the article “Homosexual
Parents Are Not in a Child’s best Interests,” Robert H. Knight asserts “In terms of sexual development, boys
need fathers so they can develop their own sexual identity; they need mothers so they can learn how to interact
with the opposite sex. Girls have similar needs” (86). I will admit children need adult role models of both sexes
in order to develop and learn how to interact with others. But these role models do not necessarily have to be
parents. Children of single parents find the opposite sex role model in someone other than a parent, and
children of same-sex parents can do the same. Most children have many role models both parental and non-
parental. Just because they do not have a parent of one sex does not mean that children have to miss the
development that comes with interacting with an adult of that sex, it just means that they will receive that
interaction from someone other than a parent.
Even the judicial system is recognizing that same-sex couples can make good parents. In the article
“Homosexuals Should Have Greater Parental Rights,” Scott Harris states “Judges, persuaded by growing
research data that gays are as able as heterosexuals to be worthy parents, have increasingly granted gays
custody of children and approved adoptions by gays” (186). This shows three things. First, that growing data
from research shows homosexuality does not make someone less able to be a good parent, second, that,
married or not, homosexuals want to be parents and are adopting children, and third, that judges have decided
to let homosexuals adopt children. If judges are letting gays and lesbians adopt children, then some
homosexuals are going to be parents whether they are married or not. However, if they are married, then the
child can be jointly adopted by both of the people who want to be their parent, which is better for both the
parents and the child.
There is actually one respect in which gays and lesbians could prove to be better parents than heterosexuals.
In the article “Gay and Lesbian Parents Can Raise Well-Adjusted Children,” April Martin contends “The children
of lesbians and gay men are the most considered and planned-for children on earth” (69). Because of the very
nature of what it means to be homosexual, there can be no such thing as an unplanned pregnancy in gay and
lesbian families. Not only that, but gays and lesbians cannot decide one night that they want a child and
immediately start trying to conceive one. Whether they decide to adopt or go thru a sperm bank or surrogate
mother, the legal procedures required mean that homosexuals are forced to take time to think about their
decision to have a child. The existence of each child in this type of family is carefully contemplated long before
any steps are taken towards actually adding a child to the family.
Not only are they carefully planned for, but children raised in same-sex parent households are privy to some
unique opportunities. In her article, Martin proclaims the following: “the pride we feel in our families gives our
children the tools to deal with prejudice. As in any family that contains a member of an oppressed minority, our
children learn to understand the problems of ignorance and bias” (70). Because the parents of these children
know full well the effects of ignorance and bias in the world, the kids of gays and lesbians, just like the children
of other minorities, will grow up understanding about oppression, and will, hopefully, be neither ignorant of nor
biased against people who are different from them. These children will learn early on not to be prejudice
towards anyone. If we are lucky, the children of gay and lesbian couples will be able to take that understanding
and lack of prejudice and use it to help teach the rest of the world not to be prejudiced and biased against
people who are different from them. The fact of these children being brought up in same-sex parent households
could be beneficial for everyone, rather than harmful to the children.
2. Same-sex marriage will lead to the legal sanction of polygamy and incest. The legalization of same-sex
marriage will definitely lead to changes in the way we think about marriage. But that does not mean that this
legalization will soon legally sanction polygamy and incest. My opponents have committed a slippery slope
logical fallacy. Changing one small thing about marriage will not invariable lead to larger, more drastic
changes. In his essay “Three’s a Crowd,” Andrew Sullivan states:
Rationally, it’s a completely separate question whether the government should extend the definition of marriage
(same-sex or different-sex) to include more than one spouse or whether, in the existing institution between two
unrelated adults, the government should continue to discriminate between its citizens. (279)
Basically this is saying that there is a major difference in the magnitude of the change to marriage between
legalizing same-sex marriage and legalizing polygamy and that by not legalizing same-sex marriage the
government is discriminating against homosexuals.
It just does not make sense to think the legalization of same-sex marriage will automatically be followed by the
legal sanctioning of polygamy and incest. Sullivan declares the following:
If we’re worried about polygamy, why not the threat of legally sanctioned necrophilia? Or bestiality? The same
panic occurred when interracial marriage became constitutional […] and when women no longer had to be the
legal property of their husbands. The truth is, marriage has changed many, many times over the centuries. (280)
This is not the first time irrational fears have tried to influence Americans away from a needed change to the
legal definition of marriage. These fears have reared their heads before, but, when the changes were made,
they came to nothing. Just like nothing came of these fears when interracial marriage was legalized, there is no
reason to believe they will come to fruition through the legalization of same-sex marriage.
Another thing that needs to be taken into account is the differences between homosexuality and polygamy.
Sullivan establishes “We accept also that multiple partners can be desired by both gays and straights alike:
that polygamy is an activity, whereas both homosexuality and heterosexuality are states” (279). In other words,
polygamy does not logically follow same-sex marriage because polygamy is something you do, but
homosexuality is part of who you are. You can control whether or not you have sex with multiple partners. You
cannot control whether you are homosexual or heterosexual.
Sullivan, however, is not the only one who points out problems with the fear of the legal sanction of
polygamy and incest following legalization of same-sex marriage. In his essay “Marrying Somebody,” Jonathan
Rauch declares the following: “People who insist on marrying their mother or several lovers want an additional
(and weird) marital option. Homosexuals currently have no marital option at all” (286). While gays and lesbians
are fighting for the right to be able to marry at all, any polygamist or incest rights groups would be trying to be
allowed an extra option on top of the options they already have. Heterosexual polygamists and people who
commit incest currently can choose to marry one nonrelative that they love. Homosexuals cannot marry anyone
they love unless same-sex marriage is legalized.
3. Same-sex marriage is derogatory to the institution of marriage. The legalization of same-sex marriage
will definitely cause some changes to the way we think about and look at the institution. In his essay
“Americans Must Preserve Institution of Marriage,” Rick Santorum pronounces “it’s just common sense that
marriage is the union of a man and a woman” (518). But just because we traditionally think of marriage as
being between a man and a woman, that does not mean that we should prevent some people from marrying on
those grounds alone. This idea comes from traditional ideas and tradition has changed before. What we really
need to worry about is making sure that we are not being discriminatory because of tradition.
The issue of tradition is a major factor in the opposition to same-sex marriage. In their article “Society Should
Sanction Gay Partnerships,” Thomas B. Stoddard and Patricia Horn proclaim “If tradition were the only
measure, most states would still limit matrimony to partners of the same race” (162). Tradition is a constantly
changing thing. Traditionally, in order to get a divorce one of the parties had to have majorly wronged the other.
Traditionally, wives were their husbands’ property. Traditionally, only white people could get married. All of
these traditions have changed with the times. It makes sense that the tradition of only opposite-sex couples
could change too.
Not only have the traditions of marriage changed over time, but so has what it means to be married. The article
“Gays and Lesbians Have an Equal Right to Marriage” by Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc.
states “Legally and in reality, marriage is best understood as a relationship of emotional and financial
interdependence between two people who make a public commitment” (68). What this is basically saying is
that any two people, regardless of what sex each of them is, who are emotionally committed to each other and
are willing to become financially dependent upon one another and make a public commitment to each other
should be able to get married. A marriage does not depend on whether the couple is same-sex or different-
sex. It depends on the level of commitment shown by those in it.
For some people, though, this does not matter. They believe that same-sex marriage will demolish the nuclear
family. In his essay, “Whose Family Values,” Adam Tenney states the following:
We know that gay marriage is not seeking to destroy the nuclear family. Instead, it is advocating that there are
other equally healthy ways to create loving relationships and raise children outside of heterosexual marriage.
Gay marriage, along with other types of marital arrangements, redefine what makes a family. (522).
Rather than harming the nuclear family, same-sex marriage will reinforce the benefits of healthy, loving families.
It will allow for equality between heterosexuals and homosexuals.
Same-sex couples, in asking for marriage, are only asking for the same right that heterosexuals currently
have, the right to marry someone you love. In her essay “Showing Us the Power of Marriage,” Ellen Goodman
asserts “These couples want a license to join, not destroy, marriage” (525). Gay and lesbian couples are not
trying to damage or harm the institution of marriage. They only want to be able to do what every other American
can do, marry the person they love.
I will concede that the legalization of same-sex marriage will mean some changes to the way Americans
think about and look at marriage. However, I cannot see that this change would be a bad one. Only good can
come from allowing gays and lesbians to make their own decision about whether or not they want to get
married, just like every heterosexual person does. Because we do have homosexual people who live in
America, we need to legalize same-sex marriage so that they will have the same marital rights that everyone
else in the country has.
Goodman, Ellen. “Showing Us the Power of Marriage.” Conversations: Readings for Writing.
Ed. Jack Selzer and Dominic Delli Carpini. New York: Pearson Longman, 2009. 523-525. Print.
Harris, Scott. “Homosexuals Should Have Greater Parental Rights.” Homosexuality: Opposing
Viewpoints. Ed. William Dudley. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, 1993. 184-191. Print.
Human Events. “Homosexuals Should Not Have Greater Parental Rights.” Homosexuality:
Opposing Viewpoints. Ed. William Dudley. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, 1993. 192-197. Print.
Knight, Robert H. “Homosexual Parents Are Not in a Child’s Best Interests.” Gay Rights.
Ed.Tamara L. Roleff. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, 1997. 84-89. Print.
Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc. “Gays and Lesbians Have an Equal Right to
Marriage.” Gay Rights. Ed.Tamara L. Roleff. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, 1997. 66-68. Print.
Martin, April. “Gay and Lesbian Parents Can Raise Well-Adjusted Children.” Gay Rights.
Ed.Tamara L. Roleff. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, 1997. 69-71. Print.
Patterson, Charlotte. “Children of Lesbian and Gay Parents: Summary of Research Findings.”
Same-Sex Marriage: Pro and Con. Ed. Andrew Sullivan. New York: Vintage Books, 1997. 240-241. Print.
Rauch, Jonathan. “Marrying Somebody.” Same-Sex Marriage: Pro and Con. Ed. Andrew
Sullivan. New York: Vintage Books, 1997. 285-288. Print.
Santorum, Rick. “Americans Must Preserve Institution of Marriage.” Conversations: Readings
for Writing. Ed. Jack Selzer and Dominic Delli Carpini. New York: Pearson Longman, 2009. 517-519. Print.
Stoddard, Thomas B., and Patricia Horn. “Society Should Sanction Gay Partnerships.”
Homosexuality: Opposing Viewpoints. Ed. William Dudley. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, 1993. 161-
Sullivan, Andrew. “Three’s a Crowd.” Same-Sex Marriage: Pro and Con. Ed. Andrew Sullivan.
New York: Vintage Books, 1997. 278-282. Print.
Tenney, Adam. “Whose Family Values?” Conversations: Readings for Writing. Ed. Jack Selzer
and Dominic Delli Carpini. New York: Pearson Longman, 2009. 519-523. Print.