Shannon D

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Same-Sex Marriage in VA

Love is a feeling of intense desire and attraction toward a person with whom one is disposed to make a pair; the emotion of sex and romance.

-Webster’s Dictionary

Our society puts a lot of pressure on love at a very early age. When we see love depicted on film and in fairy tales love radiates feelings of both perfection and longevity. Not too many people go into a marriage, for example, looking for it to end. Therefore, love begins to represent a bond of eternity between two people. But which two genders can experience love? This problem affects the entire world, but more specifically the state of Virginia. Our nation recognizes Virginia as a conservative southern state. Since it is a southern state that means a lot of traditions still stand strong. One of the most controversial traditions happens to be marriage; whether marriage should happen between just a man and a woman, or two members of the same gender. Over the years homosexual relationships have become more apparent in the media. Each state reacts differently to this idea of same-sex marriage. The easiest way to deal with an issue and try to find a solution is to list all the problems and concerns that lie within the controversy. By looking at the church, elderly, and young adults across Virginia, two sides will emerge on same sex marriage.
As of August 2004, only one state allowed same-sex marriage which belongs to the state of Maine (Robinson). Virginia though opposes this idea that same-sex marriages should be recognized by law. Virginia is trying to pass an amendment to the marriage law that states:
“That only a union between a man and one woman may be a marriage valid in or recognized by this Commonwealth and its political subdivisions. This Commonwealth and its political subdivisions shall not create or recognize a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance, or effects of marriage. Nor shall this Commonwealth or its political subdivisions create or recognize another union, partnership, or other legal status to which is assigned the rights, benefits, obligations, qualities, or effects of marriage. Any other right, benefit, obligation, or legal status pertaining to persons not married is otherwise not altered or abridged in this section.”(Human Rights Campaign)

“This measure passed the legislature in 2005 and, as required, was passed again by the legislature in 2006. It will go to voters for ratifications on November 7, 2006.” (Human Rights Campaign) By looking at this amendment it does not give the implications that Virginia has any intentions of recognizing same-sex marriages. So what is next for Virginia? Equality Virginia is the states largest gay rights group who are working to keep the issue of same-sex marriage alive. “On January 25, 2006 nearly 500 gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and allied Virginians participated in the Equality Lobby Day” (Equality Virginia). This is just another step that concerned members of this state are doing for equal rights for same-sex marriages.
The Church has very strong opinions on same-sex marriage, and there are Biblical admonitions against homosexuality (McLenaghen). Mr. McLenaghen happens to be a member of the Catholic church, and also an advocate to stop same-sex marriages. He states in his homily that homosexuals are already protected by the law from discrimination, so why do they need to take the next step to get married (McLenaghen). McLenaghen, like some Virginian’s, feel that homosexuals already get enough recognition by the law and media, which causes their resentment towards same sex marriage. Mr. McLenaghen states, “There isn’t a single monotheistic religion that approves of homosexual acts” (McLenaghen). This statement is a bit misleading because there are some members of the church that do allow same-sex couples to even attend their congregation. The main idea here is to show that the Roman Catholic Church does not recognize same-sex marriages because they are deemed immoral and corrupt.
What is it that is so scary about allowing same-sex couples to marry? After researching the topic, some common themes arose to answer the question. Many people confuse same-sex marriage with illegal issues, such as incest or even the twisted love for one’s pet. Two men who are in love have absolutely nothing in common with two people committing incest. Of course there are people who believe that they are in love with a family member, or their goat, but just because these types of people exist does not mean same-sex marriages should be categorized with these outlandish people. Same-sex marriage and incest are so different that they should not ever be compared to one another. This statement is easier said than done. People fear the unknown and change, it has always been this way. To help those in Virginia see same-sex marriage in a different light, groups actively protesting their rights for marriage. The more people see gays and lesbians and become more acclimated with their presence, the easier it will be to see articles pushing for same-sex marriage.
If same-sex marriage never is recognized by Virginia, then what problems can come from this? One issue to be tackled would be spousal benefits. In the case of insurance, buying a house, or even the death of a spouse, the law doesn’t recognize that these unions even exist, therefore no benefits will be paid. Also in the instance of adoption, the child can all belong to one spouse, and take that spouses name. What happens if the spouse who legally adopted the child dies? Can the living spouse attempt to adopt the child, or does the child then belong to the state of Virginia? Obviously many questions surround same-sex marriage and the pros and cons that accompany it. In a society where marriage and love are so highly looked upon, the next question to ask would be, is love enough? The church states that same-sex marriage goes against the bible, elderly that are not used to same-sex couples oppose their union, and young adults stand spilt between the two sides. Is it merely enough to offer same-sex couples protection from discrimination, or should they be allowed the same rights as heterosexual couples receive?

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