According to the Human Rights Campaign, the 2000 Census reported 3.1 million people in the United States of America were living in same sex relationships. These citizens reside in 99.3 percent of the counties across the nation and it is estimated that between 1 and 9 million children are being raised by gay, bisexual or lesbian parents (Human Rights Campaign). These individuals are American citizens protected by the United States Constitution. Article 14.1 of the United States Constitution entitles all citizens equal protection under the law and forbids states from enacting laws which deny citizens’ rights. Denying same-sex couples the right to marry, denies them equal protection under the law. Therefore, same-sex marriage should be legalized.
Denying people who are homosexuals, the opportunity to marry is a form of minority discrimination. Marriage, in itself, is the highest level of commitment between any couple, regardless of their sexual orientation. Marriage is a public contract between two individuals who choose to be together. It serves to protect both partners in the relationship. The issue of same-sex marriage is emotionally charged due to conflicting values with religious beliefs. However, in the history of the United States, the legality of this contract has evolved over time as groups of citizens fought for equality. For example, before the Civil War, African Americans could not marry in many states. In the southwest, polygamy was legal for Caucasians and then when Utah became a state, the law changed to a contract between one man and one woman, but still forbade African Americans to marry. Finally, marriage between bi-racial couples was illegal until 1967. In the US Supreme Court ruling of Loving v. the state of Virginia, the Court ruled that the freedom to marry is a vital and necessary personal right that is essential to the pursuit of happiness.
Heterosexual marriages that are performed in the United States are recognized by every state in the nation and other countries as well. Within the United States, the only states who currently issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples are Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, Vermont and beginning in 2010, New Hampshire. In addition, 40 states have either a constitutional amendment or state law, which prohibits same-sex marriage. The remaining states provide for domestic partnerships or civil unions. (Civil Unions are granted to same-sex couples, and have no protection that their union will be recognized in any state outside the state they live in.)
Same-sex unions are not “separate but equal” because in marriage the state grants marriage licenses, and does not require religious officials to perform a marriage. However, in civil unions the state gives the couple a civil union license that is only recognized in that particular state. Civil unions are not recognized by the federal government and religious officials are still not required to perform them.
Civil unions as they...