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Florida Marriage Protection Amendment, Essay Example

Pages: 6

Words: 1583

Essay

The Florida Marriage Protection Amendment also known as proposition 2 “protects marriage as the legal union of only one man and one woman as husband and wife and provides that no other legal union that is treated as marriage or the substantial equivalent thereof shall be valid or recognized”(Florida Department of State). Essentially, this amendment seeks to protect thetimeless tradition of marriage as a social union between two members of opposite sex. In their defense, the supporters of the Florida Marriage Amendment emphasize the benefits ofdual-gender childrearing and also point towards the role of dual-gender marriage in procreation. A major moral argument has been thrust upon the United States in attempting to justify such state laws as the Florida Marriage Protection Amendment.  Not surprisingly, the main backers of the amendment include state churches and pro-family organizations.

Florida Marriage Protection Amendment should be repealed because it violates the very basic principles on which this country was built such as the right to liberty and the right to pursue happiness. The law implies one can choose his or her life partner only from the opposite sex if he or she wants the union to be officially sanctioned by the state.  Same-sex couples are experiencing the unfortunate hindrance of their own natural rights as a basis for the state to place a moral compass upon its citizens.By effectively eliminating a same-sex couple’s right to marriage, this amendment to state law deprives the same-sex couples numerous financial and non-financial benefits that come with marriage such as joint tax filings, savings on various types of insurance, support payments, and numerous promotional offers offered by commercial enterprises to married couples.This has produced an environment conducive to state-sanctioned discrimination against same-sex couples by denying them the financial and legal rights available to their dual-gender counterparts. The law gives support to the notion that homosexuality is a lifestyle as argued by religious institutions and not a natural phenomenon as argued by the scientific establishment.  In other words, gay individuals are believed by the Florida state establishment to be engaging in a lifestyle by choice as opposed to by a fixed destiny based on genetics from birth.

The laws are usually intended to protect society from the harmful consequences of one person’s actions. Human beings are reasonable creatures and thus, perfectly capable of evaluating the potential consequences of their actions. Therefore, it makes sense to hold one personresponsible for the harm done to the society as a consequence of his or her own risky behavior. However, the laws attempt to drawa delicate line between individual freedom and one’s rights towards the society. This may explain why not all risky behaviors are regulated in truly democratic societies.  While the goal is typically to protect every person within a society, it must also be to provide each person with the natural inalienable rights as set forth by that society’s government and its people.  Its people must determine which rights are necessary.As an example, excessive alcoholic consumption can be fatal but there are no laws dictating how many drinks one can drink in a certain period of time but laws do discourage irresponsible behaviors such as drunk driving. Even though both are risky behaviors, in the first case, the risk is born by the same person performing the action while in the second case, the risk is involuntarily transferred to the society. The same reasoning could be applied to smoking laws, traffic laws, and numerous other health regulations.

By the same logic, same sex marriage is a private matter that does no direct harm to the safety or security of society. Thus, the society has no right to regulate a behavior that is natural and based upon the destined, genetic orientation of the person based upon the beliefs of the scientific perspective.  Furthermore, the actions and beliefs of gay couples donot affect anyone other than the participants involved, and has no external costs to the society.  Just as a straight couple’s sexual behaviors or social interactions have little impact on society as a whole, the same is true of the same-sex couples. As far as the supporters of Florida Marriage Amendment are concerned, their concerns are without merit and reflect their homophobic tendencies and coupling this with the claims that same-sex couples are endangering the moral safety of our society. The supporters of Florida Marriage Amendment argue that dual-gender rearing protects our children. For this to be true, the rate of troubled children from same sex couples should be significantly higher than the rate of troubled children from dual sex couples. No study has ever proven this but instead a Bostonresearcher reported that an analysis of multiple studies of 500 households showed no effect on the self-esteem, gender identity, or emotional health of children who have been raised in a same-sex household(Little).

The supporters also emphasize the role of dual-sex marriage in procreation. First of all, no law forces dual-sex married couples to procreate and not all dual-sex couples marry with the primary objective of procreation. In addition, thanks to the scientific advancements, procreation is not the only source for creating children anymore. Marriage may have served a useful purpose in older times but the importance of marriage as a tool for procreation has certainly diminished in modern times with greater emphasis on smaller families and an increasing acceptance of adoption as a viable alternative.In fact, dual-sex couples are as likely or more than likely to adopt as compared to same-sex couples.

The American Society believes in minimal government intrusion in the private affairs of its citizens except for extraordinary reasons such as national security.Morality doesnot fall in the realm of constitution though right or wrong does. United States laws either address right actions or wrong actions but they do not concern themselves with moral actions. Right actions could be moral but they donot necessarily have to. Thus, it is not the job of federal and state constitution to decide the fate of same-sex couples on reasoning grounded in traditional moral values. If it is wrong to be in a same-sex relationship, the Florida constitution should ban same-sex relationships altogether like states such as Oklahoma that ban gay sex. Marriage is nothing but a relationship officially recognized by the state. Marriage changes nothing between a couple whether their love for each other or their commitment to each other. The only things that change are greater financial and legal rights that have nothing to do with the intended purpose of marriage. Our nation was founded with a commitment to equal rights and Florida Marriage Amendment certainly violates this defining trait of our great nation.

In a compelling article in Newsweek, Mr. Theodore B. Olson states, “Science has taught us, even if history has not, that gays and lesbians do not choose to be homosexual any more than the rest of us choose to be heterosexual. To a very large extent, these characteristics are immutable, like being left-handed. And, while our Constitution guarantees the freedom to exercise our individual religious convictions, it equally prohibits us from forcing our beliefs on others”(Olson , Pg. 48).  This is a very strong series of statements because it helps to justify that gay couples and individuals are not a destructive force upon the moral compass of society.Based on Olson’s statements, gay Americans cannot be held responsible for their homosexuality anymore than Americans with disabilities be heldresponsible for their disabilities.  Nevertheless, the ignorance of the Florida State government continues to attempt to place regulations upon the behaviors of those individuals that are not heterosexual.  If disabled Americans were told that they could not marry other disabled Americans, there would be an outcry of prejudice and discrimination from a large sect within this country.  Nevertheless, many people within the United States believe that they know what is morally acceptable and are fearful that gay couples will influence straight individuals in a negative way.  Morality and social acceptance are two separate issues and these cannot be linked together when dealing with the issue of banning gay marriage by law.  There is a time and a place for the government to become involved in social issues; however, banning gay marriage restricts the rights and freedoms of citizens just as much as the Jim Crow laws had at one time in our history.

Just few decades back, interracial marriage was banned by some states and as a result, interracial couples were denied not only the official acceptance of their union but also the financial and legal rights bestowed by the states on married couples. In retrospective, the struggle by same-sex couples to gain marriage rights today is not much different from the struggle by interracial couples only a few decades back. The same sentiment has been beautifully echoed by Mr. Howard L. Simon of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida in an article in Outlook Weekly, “One day, we will look back on the ideathat government could have the power to dictatewhomadults canmarry with asmuch bewildermentand embarrassment as we now,shamefully,wonder how we allowed government the power toban interracialmarriage”(Simon , Pg. 6). Indeed, it is going to happen because American history shows that the next generation has always surpassed the previous generation.

Work Cited

Florida Department of State. Florida Marriage Protection Amendment. 18 November 2010. Web.

Little, Linda. Children of Same-Sex Couples Do as Well as Other Children.Medscape. 13 October 2005. 18 November 2010. Web.

Olson, Theodore B. The Conservative Case for Gay Marriage. Newsweek 18 January 2010: 48-54. Print.

Simon, Howard L. Amendment 2: A Futile Effort to Delay the Inevitable. OutlookWeekly Nov – Dec 2008. Print.

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