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"Each of us must come to care about everyone else's children. We must recognize that the well being of our own children is intimately linked to the well being of all other people's children. After all, when one of our children needs life-saving surgery, someone else's child will perform it. When one of our children is harmed by violence, someone else's child will commit it. The good life for our own children can be secured only if it is also secured for all other people's children. But to work for the well being of all children is not just a practical matter-- it is also right!" - Lilian G. Katz, Phd.

Friday, November 4, 2005

From this day forward

Speaking of gay marriage, here is the outline of the speech I did for Public Speaking.

Title: From this day forward
Topic: Same-sex marriage
General Purpose: To persuade.
Specific Purpose: To persuade my audience that same-sex marriages should be legalized in the U.S.
Thesis Statement: Same-sex marriage is an issue that affects our ability to live as free U.S. citizens and the current trends discriminate against a specific group of people.
Same-Sex Marriage: Should it be legally recognized?
What is Marriage?
(Princess Bride Scene)
  • This scene is instantly recognizable by most people.
  • Even if you have never seen the movie, you can tell it is a wedding before the first word is even spoken.
  • Weddings evoke many emotions in people.
  • They are a personal and private event for most, shared only with their family and friends.
  • And yet, the many commitments that take place during a wedding have significant societal impact.
  • Today, I am going to speak to you about not just about marriage and how the definition of marriage has evolved over the years, but about an issue that profoundly effects all of us in terms of the freedoms we enjoy as citizens of the US.
  • I am asking you to open your mind today as I discuss the controversial issue of legal same-sex marriages, counter the arguments against it and explore the ramifications of creating legal same-sex unions.
There are many definitions of marriage:
  • According to the American Heritage Dictionary, marriage is:
  • The legal union of a man and woman as husband and wife.
  • A wedding.
  • A close union
The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language
  • According to Merriam-Websters dictionary of law, marriage is the state of being united to a person of the opposite sex as husband or wife in a legal, consensual, and contractual relationship recognized and sanctioned by and dissolvable only by law
Merriam-Websters Dictionary of Law
  • Although some people contest this, the term marriage is generally only used for a state sanctioned union.
  • The phrase legally married is used to emphasize this point.
  • Andrew Sullivan puts marriage in completely different terms: The most important day of your life was when you got married. It was on that day that all of your friends and all of your family got together to celebrate the most important thing in life: your happiness—your ability to make a new home, to form a new but connected family, to find love that put everything else in perspective.
And according to Catholicism:
  • Marriage is: As a natural institution, the lasting union of a man and a woman who agree to give and receive rights over each other for the performance of the act of generation and for the fostering of their mutual love.
Pocket Catholic Dictionary - John A. Hardon, S.J.

  • As you can see from these definitions, there are several different ways to view marriage. These definitions have continually changed over the years.

In the words of E. J. Graff
Marriage [is like] …an archaeological site on which the present is constantly building over the past, letting history’s many layers twist and tilt into today’s walls and floors… many people believe theirs is the one true claim to this holy ground. But marriage has always been a battleground, owned and defined first by one group, and then by another. While marriage…may retain its ancient name, very little else in this city has remained the same, not its boundaries, boulevards, or daily habits – except the fact that it is inhabited by human beings. And yet, marriage has outlasted its many critics…and has outlasted as well, the doomsayers of so many eras who post marriage's obituary notice every time society talks about changing its marriage rules.
  • And now that we have established that marriage rules have changed, let’s talk a bit about Same-sex marriage.
What is same sex marriage?
  • Same-sex marriage is marriage between individuals who are of the same legal or biological sex.
  • The case for allowing same-sex couples to marry begins with equality, pure and simple.
  • Why should one set of loving, consenting adults be denied a right that other such adults have and which, if exercised, will do no damage to anyone else?
  • Several states in the U.S. have begun to recognize the issue.
  • This map lists the various regions that have enacted different forms of same-sex marriage laws.
  • Even so, sixteen states have constitutional amendments banning the recognition of same-sex marriage.
  • 27 states have legal statutes defining marriage as between a man and a woman.
  • Scott Bidstrup, a writer and researcher states: More than half of all people in the United States oppose gay marriage, even though three fourths are otherwise supportive of gay rights.
  • The issue is debated worldwide.
  • Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, and Spain all now allow same-sex marriage.
Now let us explore some of the arguments against same sex marriage and think about what they entail.
  • Marriage is an institution traditionally between one man and one woman.
  • This argument is even now codified in the federal law.
  • Who says what marriage is?
  • Can the straight community show a reason to deny marriage to same-sex couples?
  • There are many traditions that have been changed for the greater good.
  • Slavery was a traditional institution.
  • Bidstrup: The concept of not denying people their rights unless you show a compelling reason is the very basis of the American ideal of human rights.
  • Same-sex couples aren’t the optimum environment in which to raise children.
  • Many children are born in poor environments.
  • Psychologists state that the difference is the love and commitment of the parents.
  • Studies state that children raised by homosexual individuals and couples do not differ from children raised by heterosexuals “on measures of popularity, social adjustment, gender role behavior, gender identity, intelligence, self-concept, emotional problems, interest in marriage and parenting, locus of control, moral development, independence, ego functions, object relations, or self-esteem.”
  • Gay relationships are immoral.
  • Not all world religions have a problem with homosexuality.
  • The bible has no standing in American law, which is stated clearly in the Treaty of Tripoli in 1791 and in the First Amendment.
  • Many of the reasons offered for opposing same-sex marriage are based on assumptions made about homosexuality (although there are trans-gendered individuals who are affected as well).
  • Society has a belief that homosexuality is a behavior – something that one does.
  • Research is finding that sexual orientation is not a choice, but is what one is.

    • For example, here is the story of Penguins in Love:
    • Roy and Silo- Penguins at the Central Park Zoo- were together for six years.
    • They built a nest, defended it from others, and showed mating behavior.
    • They incubated an egg and raised the chick.
    • Scientists have found homosexual behavior throughout the animal world.
  • Marriages are for procreation and ensuring the continuation of the species.
  • Why are infertile couples allowed to marry?
  • Marriage is about love, sharing and commitment as well as procreation.
  • Would the species cease to exist if same-sex couples were allowed to marry?

  • Same-sex marriage would threaten the institution of marriage.
  • Allowing same-sex marriage would reduce the number of divorces.
  • Homosexuals would not feel pressured to marry heterosexuals by society.
  • No one would require same-sex marriage.
  • Individuals would still have freedom of choice of their own lifestyle.
  • Churches would still be able to institute their own rules on marriage and who can marry, just as they presently do.

  • Same-sex marriage is an untried social experiment.
  • Denmark has had same-sex marriage since 1989.
  • At the time, 72% of clergy were opposed to the law.
  • A survey in 1995 indicates that now 89% of Danish clergy now approve of the law.
  • Benefits are a reduction in suicide, a reduction in the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, and a reduction in promiscuity and infidelity.
  • As opposed to the concern that same-sex marriage would lead us towards legalized incest, bestial marriage, polygamy and all kinds of other horrible consequences, no such legalization has happened in the countries that have adopted same-sex marriage, and there is no public call for it.

  • Granting gays the right to marry is a “special” right.
  • “We cannot accept the view that Amendment 2’s prohibition on specific legal protections does no more than deprive homosexuals of special rights. To the contrary, the amendment imposes a special disability on those persons alone. Homosexuals are forbidden the safeguards that others enjoy or may seek without constraint.” – Justice Anthony Kennedy writing for the majority of the Supreme Court in the decision overturning Colorado’s Amendment 2 referendum.

  • Same-sex marriage would mean forcing businesses to provide benefits to same-sex couples on the same basis as opposite-sex couples.
  • Most major companies already do, because it made good business sense and did not increase cost any.
Conclusion
  • The US political system is based on Liberty and Equality.
  • Why are we denying equal opportunities to a group of citizens?
  • I am not asking you to accept homosexuality as right or wrong- that is your own personal belief system.
  • I am asking you to consider the implications of denying a group of people the same rights you now enjoy.
  • By extending them the courtesy to pursue their lives in freedom, you guarantee yourself the right to believe as you wish.
  • Andrew Sullivan puts it this way: When people talk about gay marriage, they miss the point. This isn’t about gay marriage. It’s about marriage. It’s about family. It’s about love. It isn’t about religion. It’s about civil marriage licenses.

Let me leave you with this thought from the Quaker statement of Affirmation and Reconciliation:

“Each individual’s journey through life is unique. Some will make this journey alone, others in loving relationships – maybe in marriage or other forms of commitment. We need to ponder our own choices and try to understand the choices of others. Love has many shapes and colors and is not finite. It can not be measured or defined in terms of sexual orientation.”

Bibliography
Bidstrup, Scott. “Gay Marriage: The Arguments and the Motives.” 2004. 30 September 2005. <http://www.bidstrup.com/marriage.htm>.
“Equal Marriage for Same-Sex Couples.” 30 September 2005 <http://www.equalmarriage.ca/equality/>.
Hardon, John A. “Marriage.” Pocket Catholic Dictionary. 2003. 30 September 2005 <http://www.therealpresence.org>
Human Rights Campaign. “Relationship Recognition in the U.S.” April 2005. 30 September 2005 <http://www.hrc.org/>.
Kuntzman, Gersh “An Unusual Love Story” Newsweek: Web Exclusive 2 March, 2004. 30 September 2005. <http://www.msnbc.msn.com>
“Marriage” Dictionary.com. 30 September 2005 <http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=Marriage>.
Robinson, B.A. “Same-Sex Marriages (SSM) & Civil Unions.” Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance. 25 August 2005. 30 September 2005 <http://www.religioustolerance.org >.
Sullivan, Andrew. “Why the M Word Matters to Me” Time 16 February 2004 v163 i7 p104. Opposing Viewpoints Database, Thomson Gale. 30 September, 2005.
The Economist. “The Case for Gay Marriage.” 26 February 2004. 30 September 2005. <http://www.economist.com>.
Wikipedia. “Marriage.” 30 September 2005 <http://en.wikipedia.org>.
Wikipedia. “Same-Sex Marriage.” 30 September 2005 <http://en.wikipedia.org>.