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Recognize Same-Sex Marriages

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Recognize Same-Sex Marriages

Mr. President, Congress Persons, Distinguished Clergy, and Guests:

I come before you this great afternoon as a happily married heterosexual woman and a proponent of same-sex marriages. The institution of marriage has been in a state of unrest for many, many decades. It was only after the civil war that African-Americans were allowed to marry in all areas of the United States. It was only after a U.S. Supreme Court decision in 1967 that mixed race couples could marry anywhere in the United States. But until recently, same-sex couples could not marry anywhere in the world.

Our country provides for a variety of local, state, and federal laws prohibiting discrimination of gays and lesbians and providing equal rights in a variety of settings including employment, housing, education, and even adoption of children. The exception to this rule however, remains marriage. In refusing to allow same-sex couples the same right as heterosexuals to enter into lifelong, committed partnerships, aren't we infringing on their rights of equality in a democratic society?

Same-sex couples want the right to be allowed to participate in health-care decision making for their partners, to obtain joint health care, home, and auto insurance policies, to inherit automatically in the absence of a will, and to have joint child custody. These are the very same rights that are taken for granted by us heterosexual couples but are nonetheless the very same rights that same-sex couples are fighting for everyday. Karen and Marcye Nicholson-McFadden, raising two children together, seeking full marriage rights for same-sex couples in a lawsuit state:

We can't fully protect our family if we can't get married. It's frightening to think about such an extreme step as changing this nation's Constitution in order to discriminate against families like ours. We pay New Jersey taxes, support New Jersey's economy, and live under New Jersey's Constitution. We don't want to cross state borders to get married, which is why we're working this out here in our state.

Recently, a total of 37 states in this country have enacted "Defense of Marriage Acts" (DOMAs) that ban same-sex marriage ( Other states have similar legislation pending. In a country that has at least a 50% divorce rate, why would we want to ban anyone who was sane and willing to commit them self to one partner for a lifetime?

Without the right to marry, children of same-sex couples are more vulnerable than children of heterosexual couples. Children of same-sex couples are not eligible for coverage under a second parent's insurance plan. If the second parent dies or is disabled, the child will not be eligible to receive the parent's death or disability benefits. Both of these risks are not a concern for heterosexual married couples. The American Academy of Pediatrics' Technical Report: Coparent or Second-Parent Adoption by Same-Sex Parents states:

Stereotypes and laws that maintain discriminatory practices are based on the assumption that lesbian mothers and gay fathers are different from heterosexual parents in ways that are important to their children's well-being. Empirical evidence reveals in contrast that gay fathers have substantial evidence of nurturance and investment in their paternal role and no differences from heterosexual fathers in providing appropriate recreation, encouraging autonomy, or dealing with general problems of parenting. Compared with heterosexual fathers, gay fathers have been described to adhere to stricter disciplinary guidelines, to place greater emphasis on guidance and the development of cognitive skills, and to be more involved in their children's activities. Overall, there are more similarities than differences in the parenting styles and attitudes of gay and non gay fathers (Perrin 341).

Now many of you are probably thinking this is all well and good, but same-sex marriages violate the religious institution of marriage. Most people, including myself, equate marriage with a religious ceremony. But by law, a religious ceremony does not have to take place in order for a marriage to be recognized by the state. There are different marriage laws in all states but all states define marriage as a civil union between two people, not necessarily a religious one. Most states allow the religious ceremony to double as a state ceremony. The federal government has always separated church and state but in the matter at hand, it is being used as a tool to discriminate against same-sex couples. Just as the state should not interfere with religious rites, as our forefathers have written, religious organizations should not dictate which members of society are granted



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