Monday, November 28, 2005

Gay rights = Special Rights?

Are Gay Rights, Special Rights? Why should homosexuals be allowed to marry? Why should they be given any special treatment against discrimination (employment, housing, education etc., etc.,?) What is does the "gay rights" movement stand for? The right to wear pink, purple of fushia? Aren't there more important things to worry about, other than whether "gays" have any special rights? What does being "gay" really mean? Is it a choice, biologically determined, or just an "in" thing to be? Are gays different from other human beings? Should they be treated with the same respect if they go against the covenants of the Bible, the Koran, or any other religious text?
Below, our guest blogger, Rachel H., offers some perspectives.

The Supreme Court believes that there is a constitutional right to marry. Yet homosexuals are not included in this group who have a constitutional right to marry. A majority of US citizens believe that gay people have different rights from heterosexuals; hence the re-election of Bush in 2004. Obviously that’s not the only reason he was re-elected, but same sex marriages was a hot topic for that election; Bush’s campaign appeared to be about the moral values of citizens. During that same election, eleven states amended same sex marriages through the ballot. People seem to fear homosexuals or else they would not be treating them like unwanted outcasts. It is much like when African Americans were struggling for essential rights; then it was white v. black, now it is gay v. straight. There seems to be a constant struggle for equal rights for all.
Diane Miller argues that there is no “other group of American citizens who are currently less protected under the U.S. Constitution than are gays and lesbians.” There are general amendments that obviously apply to everyone such as freedom of speech, but there is no specific amendment those focuses on giving homosexuals more rights as a group. I would like to think that in the next 20 an amendment will exist in the constitution specifically for same sex marriages. Unfortunately, it may take that for homosexuals to gain equal rights. Right now gay couples in Michigan “who work for the state are losing their benefits because of the vote to ban same sex marriages and similar unions.” All over the country bills are being passed to inhibit the rights of homosexuals.
In 2003 Lawrence v. Texas, two men were arrested for sodomy in their own home. The Supreme Court ruled that Texas could not make sodomy illegal between consenting adults. It’s a step in the right direction, but legally a same sex couple have no rights. If they decide to adopt a child, only one is the legal guardian and the other has no rights, if something happens to the other partner or to the child. That is what homosexuals are fighting for. They are not fighting for special rights; they are fighting for rights that are inherent in any heterosexual marriage. Although, many would disagree with my argument because they believe that homosexuals are something to be feared. It’s as though being gay or lesbian is contagious, and if you give them too many rights it will spread to everyone in the country. It’s ridiculous and without support or evidence.
Another important issue surrounding gay rights is the military. Originally, the military would not allow gay people in the army. Then Clinton developed the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. It allows homosexuals to be in the army as long as they “convince their superiors that they were celibate.” It is absurd that homosexuals would be allowed to participate as long as no one knows their sexual orientation. Why is sexuality something to hide and be ashamed of? It is not something that a person can choose or change. It is an inherent quality a person is born with. Gay people do not want special rights, but citizens against gay marriages and such seem to understand gay people as special; therefore, they believe that gay people should have special rights. Evan Gerstmann’s book revolves around her argument that “the Constitution has, does, and should protect everyone’s fundamental right to marry the person of his or her choice…. This does not require gays and lesbians to ask for special rights or protections.” The constitution should protect homosexuals so they would not have to fight for equal rights. By Rachel H.

Works Cited

Gerstmann, Evan. Same Sex Marriage and the Constitution. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.
Goodman, Ellen. “Must Gay Rights Wait for Our Comfort?” The Boston Globe. December 16, 2004.
Miller, Diane Helene. Freedom to Differ. New York: New York University Press, 1998.
Toobin, Jeffrey. “Sex and the Supremes”. The New Yorker. August 1, 2005.


Belma said...

I find it pretty sickening that two people could be arrested for engaging in a sexual act, solely on the basis of the fact that they are both members of the same gender. I do not believe that the government has any right to intrude on people's privacy, nor does it have the right to tell people who they can, and cannot marry. The sickening aspect of the current administration is that they are completely mixing the right wing religious strand of America with the way in which our country is being run. Our country was founded on a separation of church and state, and no matter how much someone may disagree with gay people's right to marriage, one cannot utilize religious propaganda to counter such action. I personally believe that nobody has any right to tell anyone who they should and should not marry, or become romantically involved with; however, the most upsetting aspect of the current administration is that it wishes to make this decision for all people, without giving Americans freedom of choice. What kind of a democracy do we live in, if our government has the power to override our own decisions for us, before we have even had a chance to analyze and consider them? The issue of gay rights can be compared to abortion as well, because the context is very similar. If a person disagrees with abortion, that person should not have the power to take away someone else's access to a legal and safe abortion. In that same respect, if a person disagrees with same sex marriage, they can state so (because this is a democracy, and as citizens of that democracy, we are supposed to have freedom of speech). However, the current administration is attempting to create laws in such a way that a person's disagreement completely crosses the line between peaceful protest and blatantly infringes on the basic rights of another human being to display his or her romantic affection toward another person.

laura said...

I agree with Belma that it is ridiculous that Bush actually supports a constitutional amendment on gay marriage. Luckily, however, most polls that I have read on this issue show that Americans are conflicted on the subject: they don't support marriage, but are not neccessarily opposed to civil unions or equal rights. ( Also, polls of just the younger generation show far greater support of civil unions or marriage. So, like women's rights or African-American rights, I think gays will eventually achieve full protection.

Noor M said...

I always find it fascinating to see the abortion or gay rights debate because the sterotype of America internationally is a sort of MTV land where everyone is super-liberal and has a loose value system. The current administration's policies and statements certainly do not reflect that. I think Belma answers an important question I asked at a recent Women's Center discussion about the diversity on the Supreme Court. There are other countries in the world where the government does not intefere in its citizens lives beyond a certain point. Personal issues are left up to the choice of individuals. It makes me wonder how Americans feel about the government being so invasive in your personal life. If your government were to be able to decide who you love and whether or not you have a child, then I would say you are living under an authoritarian regime. If someone is of the opinion that abortion or gay marriage is wrong, then so be it. Forcing your opinion on other people is not democracy. The President's speeches and references to God make it seem like the United States is taking a step back with respect to democracy instead of taking a step forward.

Anonymous said...

It is not my intentions to turn this discussion into a religious debate. However, it seems that the question of gay marraige seems to inevitably rise to the top in a debate surrounding gay rights. While I am for civil unions, I find it difficult to understand how a word like marraige, ordained under Christianity to mean the marraige between a man and a woman, could ever be the subject of debate...

Stonewall said...

I agree with Anonymous. I’m a gay person myself and although I want to have the same rights and privileges that a straight person is entitled to, such as a civil union, I want nothing to do with the Christian version of what a “marriage” should be. It seems to me that heterosexuals are all to often hypocrites. They take the vowels for better or worse and enjoy all the benefits that our government can bestow on them just to turn around trash it a few years later in divorce. Yep, anonymous yer right that should be a privilege only bestowed to a man and a woman of Christian values.