There has been a lot of debate about a particularly touchy subject in modern American culture, gay marriage. It has recently seen a surge of support and seventeen states in the USA have legalized it. Some of the arguments against gay marriage are as such: It is bad for families and the children of gay parents, that gay relationships will be taught in schools and become accepted, and that gays and gay marriage are against God’s will. However, there are fiscal, social, and moral reasons in favor of gay marriage that in my opinion trump the reasons against it. By legalizing gay marriage the economy stands to gain from taxes, licenses, and additional revenue from weddings. I have also found evidence that contradicts the fears from the opposition about gay parenting. There is also the issue of bullying of gay teens and children of gay couples that, with the legalization of gay marriage, might very well disappear.
As marriage is a government sanctioned union, there are tax benefits, visitation rights, and many other benefits allotted to married couples that aren’t afforded to unmarried people. This also means that the government needs a financial reason to legalize gay marriage, and that’s where the Williams Institute, a Think Tank for UCLA Law School, comes into play. They recently did a study on the economic benefits of legalizing gay marriage, using Washington State as an example. It explains that roughly 9,500 same-sex couples will get married in the first three years of legalization alone, and that the revenue from that could be as much as eighty-eight millions dollars to the local and state economies. This economic boost could increase tax revenues by eight million dollars, a much needed increase. Those numbers could be even bigger on a national level, increasing federal tax revenue and a general boost to the economy all over. In the meantime, the seventeen states that have legalized gay marriage enjoy the benefits of marriage tourism, where people come from out-of-state to spend money to get married there. While millions and possibly billions of dollars might not save the country from the current debt, it is a much needed revenue increase that can’t be denied.
Several anti-gay groups tend to use the argument that gay marriage is bad for the children who will be born to or adopted by gay parents. This is based on the assumption that children require both a mother and father figure to succeed. They also tend to compare lesbian parenting to single mothers because there is no “father,” and some statistics show that kids of single mothers have higher delinquency rates due to not having a father. This same argument is used against gay male parents because there is no mother figure. This statement is nonsensical, a single mother is only one person, just because there isn’t a male father figure does not invalidate the fact that there are two parents, each capable of taking care of the child financially and emotionally. The argument that there would be a lack of a male role model in the case of a boy child is also illogical, as an uncle, brother, or close friend can also serve to fill these roles if need be.
I have found an article published by PubMed, the online branch of the US National Library of Medicine entitled Gay marriage, same-sex parenting, and America’s children, by William Meezan and Jonathan Rauch that indicates that gay marriage isn’t harmful to children of gay parents. According to the article, “First, marriage may increase children’s material well-being through such benefits as family leave from work and spousal health insurance eligibility. It may also help ensure financial continuity, should a spouse die or be disabled.” It goes on to say that gay marriage might increase the stability and durability of gay relationships, thus creating a stable home environment. It also says that legalizing it would also create more acceptance of gay people, thus reducing any bullying that might be endured by the children of gay parents.
One other issue that I will touch on briefly before I present further evidence is the moral issues that religious groups bring up in regards to gay marriage. Some religious groups say that being homosexual is against God, and that gay marriage just normalizes being gay. They continually cite religious reasons as to why gay marriage shouldn’t be allowed. They claim that marriage is a tradition based in religion, and though it might be based in religion, it is in fact a legal matter. Separation of church and state exists for a reason, so that in regard to legal issues the churches cannot affect the decisions. There are gay citizens whether religious people like it or not, and they are requesting the right to be legally married, which requires government consent. The benefits of marriage are strictly legal ones, and thus any argument against it based on religion is false reasoning, and subject to dismissal.
The other concern that is brought up against gay marriage is that gay relationships will be taught as normal in schools and grades as young as kindergarten. I have always found this to be an absurd assumption, as when I was in school I don’t recall ever being taught about straight relationships except in second hand form, such as the letter Abigail Adams wrote to her husband John Adams regarding female liberation after the Revolutionary War. However, even if gay relationships were talked about as being equally as valid as straight relationships, this is not a problem. It creates acceptance and tolerance where previously there was none. I think that the fear is that kids will be taught about sex in regards to gay relationships, but that aspect of relationships is not taught until sex education starts in most cases. The fear that kids will be taught about gay sex in school is, in my opinion baseless, as straight sex isn’t talked about now, as such gay relations wouldn’t be explained either. Fearing that a child will be taught about sex in school is almost laughable in an age when most kids have cell phones, computers, and internet, and are able to look these things up on their own.
The real problem with schools regarding gay people is bullying and the general lack of acceptance. If gay marriage was legalized there is a good chance that acceptance of gay people would increase. I found some statistics on bullying of gay students and found some surprising numbers. The article I found was called Bullying in School, Harassment Puts Gay Youths at Risk, and was taken from the website Mental Health America. Gay students are two to three times more likely to commit suicide than straight students, and four out of five gay students said that there are no supportive faculty members at school. Another distressing statistic was this one, “One survey revealed that 22 percent of gay respondents had skipped school in the past month because they felt unsafe there.” Schools clearly need to be safe for a student to learn well, and with gay marriage illegal, being gay becomes taboo. If gay marriage is legalized it is my firm belief that acceptance in schools will rise, and lessen the amount of bullying that gay students receive, thus ensuring future success.
The reasons against gay marriage are easily countered by facts, and the moral reasoning against gay marriage is actually immoral as it denies basic rights to loving, consenting adults.
Angeliki Kastanis, M.V. Lee Badgett, and Jody L. Herman. “The Economic Impact of Extending Marriage to Same-Sex Couples in Washington State.” Williams Institute. Williams Institute, Jan. 2012. Web. 10 Apr. 2013. <http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/research/economic-impact-reports/estimating-the-economic-boost-of-marriage-equality-in-washington-state-sales-tax-2/>.
William Meezan, and Jonathan Rauch. “Gay Marriage, Same-sex Parenting, and America’s Children.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2005. Web. 10 Apr. 2013. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16158732>.
“Bullying and Gay Youth.” Mental Health America. Mental Health America, n.d. Web. 11 Apr. 2013. <http://www.nmha.org/index.cfm?objectid=CA866DCF-1372-4D20-C8EB26EEB30B9982>.
Thank you for reading Rationality Unleashed! You can “like” us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @rationalityunle. For any questions, concerns, or comments beyond what can be placed in the comments section of the blog, email us email@example.com.