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Running Head: GAY MARRIAGE

Gay Marriage Rights Literature Review

Omar Sobal Varro
University of Texas at El Paso


For the past few hundred years heterosexual marriage has been the only marriage that could be
done legally throughout the United States of America. However, as the homosexual lifestyle
become more and more socially acceptable, reform is being called for by millions of people
throughout the country. There is still a very strong population of Americans that believe
marriage is a sacred bond that should happen only between a man and a woman, this group of
people wants gay marriage to remain illegal. Although both sides have their arguments it is
unclear what will happen in the near future as the fight for gay marriage rights continues
throughout the country.


For a little over two centuries homosexual marriage was not even a conceivably appropriate
or legal possibility in the United States of America. Up until 2004 when Massachusetts legalized
gay marriage there was little to no progress in strives for the legalization of same sex marriage.
Even now in 2014 gay marriage is still being fought for throughout the United States. Gays
marriage rights is such a controversial issue because it is debated on the premise of peoples own
individual beliefs and because of this it is often issue of many heated debates. However, if
someone really wanted to understand the issue of gay marriage they would have to answer four
very important questions
1. In the eyes of the law, what is marriage?
2. Does not allowing gay marriage violate the law?
3. Why have certain states legalized gay marriages while others have not?
4. What action is being taken in the pursuit to legalize/maintain illegality of gay marriage in the
United States?
These questions allow an individual to gain a better understanding of the debate over gay
marriage rights status, progress, and evolution over time. Gay marriage rights are looked at from
a variety of perspectives and with many different purposes, understanding different points of
view will make the issue much clearer and provide better insight to a solution.
Because gay marriage laws are the heart of the issue, its important to know what marriage
constitutes in the eyes of the law. Now, marriage is defined simply as the state of being united
to a person of the opposite sex as husband or wife in a consensual and contractual relationship
recognized by law According to the Texas constitution Marriage in this state shall consist only

of the union of one man and one woman. Which is followed by This state or a political
subdivision of this state may not create or recognize any legal status identical or similar to
marriage. This makes marriage legal only for heterosexual couples and states that no place in
Texas can legalize any other form of marriage other than that which is previously stated.
However, this definition does not explain what it means by contractual. What needs to be
understood is what changes about the relationship between two people when they get married,
besides of course the husband and or wife title. Marriage is not just strictly limited to two people
in love or who want the best for each other, in fact any man and woman, so long as theyre not
family, can legally marry. Although a majority of people who get married in the United States do
so because they have fallen in love, but marriage is much more than that; it is a legally binding
contract between two people. When two individuals regardless of gender get married their assets
become shared, their property is shared, their debt is shared and for the entire duration they
remain married they are bound together. Like in any other contract if either party should stray
from the agreed upon terms there are consequences. Marriage can be very beneficial for two
individuals assuming that they can legally get married. From a strictly legal standpoint marriage
is a contract resulting in an exchange of assets and responsibilities between two consenting
adults. Their assets are combined, they are in charge of each other should one of them fall ill or
die, and any assets gained after marriage become shared between the two people involved. If two
people decide that they want to spend the rest of their lives with each other, the legal benefits of
marriage make combining your assets and living together much simpler. Many think that gay
Americans want to get married for purely emotional reasons but the fact of the matter is marriage
is a legal process that can make life for two people much easier, assuming them getting married

is legal. Below is a map displaying the states where gay marriage is legal either by the ballot or
by a judicial ruling

A little over a quarter of the nation has legalized gay marriage, still the vast majority of the
country does not enjoy that freedom. As displayed in the key the dark blue states indicate that
gay marriage was passed through the state legislature, the light blue indicates that a judicial
decision is what legalized gay marriage, yellow means that gay marriage was voted in to law,

and white means that gay marriage is not legal in that state. Many states have no intention of
legalizing gay marriage anytime soon, in some cases its more likely that the federal government
will legalize gay marriage before the state. The reasons behind legislators being unwilling to pass
bills that would legalize gay marriage vary from person to person; although, religion gets thrown
around an awful lot during debates over it. The people who argue that gay marriage goes against
their strong Christian values are often met by pro-gay marriage advocates stating that there has
and always should be a separation of church and state in our government. Its no surprise that an
issue that forces people to choose between their God and their constitution results in such a high
level of controversy. Despite all that, gay marriage is at a level of progress that would have been
unthinkable twenty years ago.
There are many people who would argue that gay marriage should or should not be legal for
moral, religious, or personal reasons however, none of that matters. All that really matters is if it
gets legalized or not. Some states have made gay marriage legal, although on a federal level it is
not yet legalized. The main reason this issue is so controversial is because Americans are split on
what they want, a recent study showed that Americans are almost evenly divided among the
three responses: 32% said same-sex couples should receive the same rights as married couples,
35% said they shouldn't, and 32% said it doesn't matter to them personally. It should be noted
that when it comes to the issue of gay marriage, if an individual does not care if gay people get
married or not he or she is in turn pro- gay marriage. Nonetheless opinions on whether or not gay
marriage should be legal varies across the country. This is why some, mainly liberal states have
legalized gay marriage and other havent. Seventeen states have legalized gay marriage to date
while the majority of states still have a ban on it. These laws are passed in the state legislatures
which are put into power by the people, the reason some states have legalized gay marriage

while others havent is that a majority of people in those states dont have any problems with gay
marriage. This however is credited to the fact that public opinion on gay marriage has drastically
changed over time for example one study shows that 71 percent opposed gay marriage in 1988,
but by 2006, this figure dropped to 52 percent. One thing that is clear is that the states that have
legalized gay marriage are generally more liberal than those who have not. This could be
coincidence but it is more than likely because liberals and democrats in general are more
supportive of gay marriage than their conservative republican countrymen. The reasons for some
states legalizing gay marriage before others varies from political viewpoints to moral obligations,
but in spite of all the progress made by a few states gay marriage is still not federally legalized.
Many believe that marriage should be defined as something strictly between a man and a
woman, even though gay marriages are legal in some states and several other countries. Some
countries like Russia have gone as far as making not only gay marriage but being gay illegal. If
you are in Russia and you are found to be gay or take part in any gay activities you can be
punished by the Russian government. People all over the world are criticizing Russia for
allegedly violating human rights, this has however proven ineffective in swaying Russian
officials. This action by Russia calls into question the legality of gay marriage bans that exist
in the United States, can a country like the United States condemn Russia for their actions while
allowing similar prejudice to take place within its own borders is one of the bigger questions that
has come up. Looking at everything objectively however, marriage is a legally binding contract
available to the general public with the exception of those who wish to get married with someone
of the same sex. An argument can be made that these bans promote gender discrimination and
social inequality because of the fact that the sole reason for the bans is the gender of the people

who want to get married. Although not allowing gay marriage does not directly violate any
specific law an argument can be made that it violates basic human rights.
Gay marriage is not going to go away any time soon, and until the issue is completely settled
it will continue to be a struggle between those who oppose it and those who favor it. There are
still a number of well organized groups, many of them churches that oppose same sex marriage
in the United States such as the Alliance Defense Fund or the American Family Association
which openly oppose same sex marriage for reasons ranging from immorality to a lack of
stability for the posterity. These groups, although sometimes frowned upon are highly efficient,
well-funded, and mobile. Many of them stage anti-gay marches and donate funds to candidates
for public office who would vote against gay marriage. Also, conservatives are often times
supporters of these groups opposed to gay marriage. For example, a controversial bill was
recently passed into law that became known as the Anti-Gay Bill Several republicans
including Senator Steve Pierce who later said he regretted voting for it. This is not to suggest that
the Republican Party or its members are all opposed to gay marriage but these tendencies do
exist. The same way there is an opposition to gay marriage there is a very strong movement of
people calling for gay marriage to be legalized throughout the United States. The same way
theres a correlation between conservative values and being opposed to gay marriage there is a
correlation between liberal values and pro-gay marriage attitudes. To get a better look at how the
general public feels about gay marriage a survey was given out fifty students at the University of
Texas at El Paso on April third of this year. The results of the survey were astonishing, seventy
percent of those surveyed said that they would vote to legalize gay marriage if given the chance.
Although there was still a percentage of students that were firmly against gay marriage that were
very particular in their diction in their responses. Even if the sample size is not large enough to

be representative of the entire population, if nothing else it shows that gay marriage is a
controversial issue even in El Paso Texas. Of the 50 students interviewed only one was not from
El Paso, the results of the study are of people who were born and raised in El Paso. So
controversial in fact that some students refused to take the survey when they found out that the
topic was gay marriage. One particularly interesting response given was I dont give a damn if
they get married what difference does it make to me? This is often brought up when debating
gay marriage, if two heterosexual people get married it has no effect on you, and the same should
apply to gay marriage. However, not everyone sees things that way. There are some that suggest
that one day people will look back on the fight for gay marriage and see it as something that
never should have had to happen, similar to the attitude about the civil rights movement.
Regardless, the fight continues and as of right now pro-gay marriage groups are slowly gaining
ground throughout the nation.
There are several ways to look at the battle for gay marriage rights, understanding the
different perspectives and purposes will make understanding and resolving the issue much easier.
Marriage is in its most basic form, an exchange and combining of assets between two people that
can be very beneficial assuming the two people are legally allowed to get married. Although
some states have made more progress than others it is clear to see that for the foreseeable future,
gay marriage will remain a controversial issue throughout the country. There are a number of
groups on each side, both well financed and organized to perform whatever they deem necessary
to have their opinions heard. As of right now a majority of the United States of America has not
legalized gay marriage and havent revealed any intentions of doing so. Whether people want to
admit it or not gay marriage has been a taboo up until recently and even with a country as diverse
as the United States claims to be a change this significant will take time. Its important to

remember that even though there are a lot of emotions that get thrown around when discussing
gay marriage, it is a matter of the law and should be looked at objectively. Whatever stance an
individual takes on this issue it is important that they understand all aspects and viewpoints of it
before deciding which side of the fence they fall on. Gay marriage has become an integrated part
of American society and it needs to be recognized as such so that the American people can find a
way to resolve the issues that have come up as a result of it.


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Anonymous UTEP student Survey

1. Are you from El Paso? (If not how long have you been here?)
2. Do you believe homosexual individuals should have the same
rights/benefits as heterosexual individuals?
3. Do you believe that homosexual couples should be entitled to the
same rights as heterosexual couples?
4. Do you believe gay couples should be allowed to get married?
5. Would you vote to legalize gay marriage in Texas?
6. Do you think religion is a fair arguing point against the legalization
of gay marriage?
7. What are your thoughts/ feelings on gay marriage?