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years and continue to be discriminated against. People are told that they should acknowledge the rights they have in the United States that other countries don't have, and they should also realize the rights that LGBT citizens do not have in the United States. The LGBT community is a minority that is being discriminated against. The United States has made progress for the rights of homosexuals but there is still much progress that needs to be made. Members of the LGBT community deserve the same civil rights as heterosexuals. President Barack Obama commented, While we have come a long way since the Stonewall riots in 1969, we still have a lot of work to do. Too often, the issue of LGBT rights is exploited by those seeking to divide us. But at its core, this issue is about who we are as Americans. It's about whether this nation is going to live up to its founding promise of equality by treating all its citizens with dignity and respect (White House 2). Until recently it was illegal for homosexuals to immigrate into the country. “Failure to convince the border patrol that one is not homosexual can mean not only denial of entry but a stamp in one's passport labeling the individuals as 'sexual deviant'...blacklisting [one] from entering the country (again)” (Larry 1). Homosexuality was declared a mental disorder by the INS in 1952 (Bush 8). Later when the medical community removed homosexuality as a mental disorder the exclusion act was taken to the Supreme Court (Bush 8). The Supreme Court ruled that Congress intended to keep
homosexuals from immigrating and allowed the discrimination to continue (Bush 9). This act was not changed until 1990(Edwards). Although homosexuals can enter the country, when homosexual couples that have been married in a foreign country enter the United States the marriage is not recognized by the United States (Edwards). On October 12, 1998 Matthew Shepard was assaulted robbed and crucified on a fence (Robinson). Matthew was found the next morning by a cyclist who mistook him for a scarecrow (Robinson). These actions were hate- based because of his sexual orientation. In most states there are laws prohibiting hate crimes (ADL Washington Office). Twenty states do not have hate crime laws for sexual orientation (ADL Washington Office). Twenty-five states do not have hate crime laws for gender (ADL Washington Office). Having no laws to protect LGBT people only allows for an increase in hate crimes and discriminatory acts. “A federally commissioned report calculated that homosexuals probably are the most frequent victims of hate-motivated violence – more than Blacks, Hispanics, South East Asians or Jews” (Deitel). The Matthew Shepard Act, which would expand current hate crime laws to include sexual orientation and gender, was introduced to the House of Representatives on March 20, 2007, and to the Senate on April 12, 2007 (Robinson). The bill was passed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate (Robinson). The President, George Bush, vetoed the bill (Robinson). There was insufficient support in Congress to overthrow the veto (Robinson). “To ignore antigay violence sends a message that the violence either doesn't exist or is somehow less reprehensible than other crimes motivated by prejudice” (“Gay Rights Exist Elsewhere”). In a nation where freedom is supposedly for everyone, someone is allowed to destroy
property, self worth, and the reputation of another because he does not agree with their lifestyle or who they are. “Homosexuals were not officially banned from the military until World War II” (Frank). Later the policy changed and now only bans homosexual conduct. “Homosexual lapses’ by ‘heterosexuals’ do not result in a ban from the military but gay conduct by openly gay soldiers does” (Frank). Don't Ask Don't Tell Don't Pursue is a policy that was created during the Clinton administration. This policy directs homosexuals to closet themselves and for no one to knock on the closet door to see who might be inside. Gays in the military are asked to hide a part of themselves. Heterosexuals in the military are not asked to do this but instead have the right to be open about their sexuality. This double standard is supposed to prevent homosexuals from discrimination and harassment from peers in the military. This policy punishes the persons with the unaccepted lifestyle and gives power to the harassers. By requiring the gays in the military to “don’t tell” it prevents expression of themselves, and therefore removes the possibility for others to be tempted to harass them. Instead others should be responsible for what they say and mature enough to accept individuals’ differences. Harassment should be a federal crime and be punished accordingly; the government and the military should be held to this standard and possibly a higher standard of no harassment because of their leadership role in the nation. Discharge numbers have increased since the policy was enacted and now between 700 and 800 soldiers a year are discharged based on this policy (Frank). “To date over twelve thousand service men have been discharged, including over 800 who were deemed mission critical by the U.S. and fifty-five of them Arabic linguists” (Frank). The discharge of those soldiers cost the United States Government millions of dollars (White
House). This policy does not make harassers responsible for their actions. In a poll conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International from December 3 to December 4, 2008, sixty-six percent of people asked believed that there should be gays and lesbians serving openly in the military (“Same Sex Marriage, Gay Rights”). Meanwhile standards are being lowered for ex convicts, high school drop-outs and felons to join the military (Frank). The government should not put the safety of the country into jeopardy because of a baseless fear. Ten states allow homosexual people to adopt either as a couple or singularly: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, and Vermont (“Gay Marriage Tips”). Until recently it was very difficult for a homosexual couple to adopt. The couple had to go through a very expensive process in which one adopted the child and the partner applied for joint custody (Harakas 2). Often homosexuals marry and do not realize or accept that they are homosexual until years into the relationship. After a divorce custody battles occur which most often are discriminatory. A lesbian who went through the process of a custody battle said, “It's quite an ordeal... It's long. It's embarrassing. It discourages a lot of [people] from even trying.” (Harakas 2). It is discouraging that this form of discrimination could happen in the country of equal opportunities. Margo Harakas also gave a list of common arguments against homosexuals adopting or having custody: “the child will grow up gay… the gay parent is immoral… the kid will suffer peer pressure because of the... lifestyle of the parent” (Harakas 2). Scott Bidstrup, a gay rights activist, says when he is confronted on the right of homosexuals to adopt or have custody most of those opposed argue that
“Same-sex couples aren't the optimum environment in which to raise children”(Bidstrup 3). The LGBT community believes that sexual orientation cannot be changed, they have no agenda to have more members and would not raise children to be LGBT. “A 1978 State University of New York showed that 36 of 37 children of homosexuals and transsexuals had conventional sex characteristics ages 3 to 20, they played with the standard sex stereotyped toys, associated with the same sex in the pre-teens and were attracted to the opposite sex in adolescence” (Bullard 3). The opinion that homosexuality is immoral is a religiously developed cultural bias. Religion is written out of the constitution, yet is has remained in the law maker's decisions and the citizen's majority opinion for years. If religion is supposed to be irrelevant in the United State's laws, then it should not be a reason for citizens to lose the right of adoption and custody. The lifestyles of homosexuals are believed to be polygamous and drug-abusing ones. Persons opposed to homosexual adoption use that belief as a reason for homosexuals to not adopt. A Kinsey report about homosexualities revealed no facts that supported the “common view that homosexuals are sexually hyperactive” (Montagu 2). The “authors believe... that the relative instability of homosexual liaisons is probably due to the strong negative social sanctions opposed to such relationships” (Montagu 3). Most homosexuals stay closeted until their late teens or early twenties. This suppression of their sexuality most likely contributes to their supposed hyperactive actions. They are experiencing their sexuality for the first time like their heterosexual counterparts did in
high school. LGBT people are forced in to cramped bars where alcohol and drugs are prevalent because their relationships are discriminated against in public places. AIDS has also decreased the amount of sexual hyperactivity in homosexuals. The idea that homosexual couples do not have appropriate lifestyle or create unacceptable home environments to raise children is a completely irrelevant argument when compared to the homes that children live in: living with parents who are alcoholics, drug addicts, sexual abusers, mental abusers, felons, et cetera. Homosexuals should not be banned from raising children unless all other persons who are deemed immoral and have less than appropriate lifestyles should not be allowed to raise children. The only difference between a heterosexual couple and a homosexual couple is the sex of the parents. There is no change in the amount of love that the children will receive. There isn't a change in the capabilities of the parents to raise the children. Dr. Robert E. Gould, associate director of the family life division of New York Medical College says, “ To deprive a child of a loving parent by virtue of the parent's sexual orientation is to violate the child's right (and the parent's) for the sake of a cultural tradition of morality which in fact is discriminatory, unjust and invalid as a concept”(Harakas 2). Dr. Wardell B. Pomeroy, the academic dean of the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality, San Francisco, says that it is both cruel and bigoted “to keep children from their parents merely because of their sexual orientation. Far more harm can come from [separating children from their parents] than from allowing the natural development of family life for children of divorced parents” (Harakas 2). Dr. Brooks Wettlin, a psycho-therapist, said:
I have counseled many gays who have children, and from my experience, they certainly could do a better job than some of the straights I know. They are sensitive they've had a lot of struggles, they are much more aware of the feelings of others, they are sensitive to nurturing. Many are just better equipped to deal with the difficulties of parenting (Bullard 2). The sexuality of a parent should not decide who gains custody of a child; a lesbian mother said “anybody who consciously and deliberately has a child through artificial insemination can’t get support but someone who sleeps with sixty three different men and sixty three children would be supported forever” (Ager 8). Some states and cities allow homosexual couples to have civil unions. These unions are only recognized by states or cities who chose to do so. Couples that are lucky enough to have a civil union do have some rights. Some would say that homosexuals should be happy with these civil unions and keep marriage for heterosexual couples. Little do these people know that if the couples with the civil unions move where the unions are not recognized or couples live in states that do not have civil unions they are denied some of these rights, and in some states all of these rights: “family landowner rights, adoption as spouses, victims' compensation/workers' compensation, discrimination based on marital status, make medical decisions for partners, and have visitation rights, continuing care contracts, able to sue for wrongful death or injury and loss of consortium, entitled to join title, transfer from one to the other on death, and property transfer tax benefits, use probate laws and procedures, treated as an economic unit, not compelled to testify against one another”(“Gay Rights”). “Cannot
collect [social security benefits] upon death of a spouse, and they cannot file jointly on federal taxes”(Issacson 101). These rights are basic civil rights that all couples should be able to enjoy. Excluding LGBT couples is blatant discrimination. If civil unions are to be the only form of legal companionship for LGBT couples then these unions should have the same rights as marriages. Marriage between homosexuals is not allowed in the United States. Homosexuals have struggled for years to obtain this right that many citizens use nonchalantly. Churches can officiate same sex marriages but they are not recognized and “have no legal benefits or responsibilities” (“Gay Rights”). Many rights that married couples enjoy seem so basic and universal but are denied to gay couples because they cannot marry. Wills and powers of attorney by gay men can be overturned, the partner of the man can lose custody of children, be excluded from funeral services, and be denied the right to visit the grave, or hospital bed, property jointly owned by the couple can be seized, by the deceased members family and have no legal reparations (Bidstrup 8-9). Partners can be compelled to testify against each other in courts(Bidstrup 9). If a partner is incarcerated visitation rights can be taken away by family members, and conjugal visits do not exist (Bidstrup 9). Scott Bidstrup gives a list of common arguments that those who oppose gay marriage use: Marriage is an institution between one man and one woman... same-sex couples aren't the optimum environment in which to raise children... gay relationships are immoral... marriages are for procreation... same-sex marriage would threaten the institution of marriage... marriage is traditionally a heterosexual institution...
same-sex marriage is an untried social experiment... same-sex marriage would start us down a “slippery slope”... sodomy should be illegal... gay marriage would force churches to marry gay couples when they have a moral objection to doing so (Bidstrup,2-6). The belief that marriage is an institution between one man and one woman is a tradition that has been around for so long that it has made the majority's opinion obdurate, even to a struggling minority only wanting to show the same emotions and be able to perform the same actions that the majority has, which includes basic civil rights that all citizens should have. The idea and argument that marriage is solely for procreation is hypocritical. If marriage is for procreation only then all marriages that have an infertile spouse, marriages between older couples in which there is no sex due to decreased libido, marriages in which a woman cannot procreate because of reaching menopause, or marriages where there is a separation or the spouses cannot see each other, i.e. imprisonment, illness, et cetera, should be null and void. Same-sex marriages would not endanger or threaten marriage in any way; ironically, allowing people to marry endangers marriage. Marriage is more endangered by the rising divorce rates which have depreciated the value and meaning of marriage. Marriage is traditionally a heterosexual institution, slavery was a tradition, and segregation was a tradition. Traditions that inflict upon any one person's civil or human
rights should be abolished as slavery and segregation were and biased marriage laws should be. Same-sex marriage is not an untried social experiment. Denmark was one of the first countries to allow homosexual marriage (Bidstrup 4). “Polling results [in Denmark]now show that most people there now recognize that the benefits far outweigh the trivial costs, and that far from threatening heterosexual marriage, same sex marriage has actually strengthened it” (Bidstrup 2). When people use the “slippery slope” argument they believe that if homosexual marriages are allowed to happen then bestiality [sexual relations between a person and an animal] and polygamy [practice of having more than one spouse] will soon become legal (Bidstrup 4-5). P.E.T.A. would never allow bestiality to happen. If it did the White House would be painted red along with the rest of Washington D.C. Bestiality would inflict upon the rights of animals while homosexual marriage gives rights to citizens. With the same idea, allowing convicts into the army would lead us down a slippery slope of allowing anyone into the army, like people who aren't high school graduates or have an equivalent education. The “slippery slope” argument is just an argument based on fear for change and fear of the country evolving into a place where everyone is accepted and there are no longer minorities. The belief that sodomy should be illegal is another religious based belief that should not be able to make decisions for the citizens of a religiously free country, and the ruling of the Supreme Court on sodomy laws as being unconstitutional makes this belief irrelevant in decisions about American Law.
The legalization of gay marriages would in no way force a church to marry anyone. Churches now have the right to marry or not marry whomever they wish. Legalization would allow churches who want to marry homosexual couples their right to officiate marriages that are bound by law. Scott also gives a list of why these people use these arguments: “(they) are not comfortable with the idea... marriage is a sacred institution (to them)... gay sex is unnatural (to them)... (they believe) [homosexuals] might recruit” (Bidstrup 6-8). People were polled by Princeton Survey Research Associates International through the Newsweek Poll the results showed that the majority of people thought that gay and lesbian partners should have basic civil rights that are included in marriage but did not think that gays and lesbians should be allowed to marry. The comfortableness of an idea should not withhold citizens from having basic civil rights; the constitutionality of an issue should be the deciding factor. Marriage is no longer a sacred institution. The sanctity of marriage has been stripped away by divorce and legal issues. Homosexual sex is not unnatural. Homosexuality occurs in nature in most species. Homosexuals don't recruit, this fear of the suburban family is simply not true. The gay parades that march down the streets in San Francisco and New York are not recruitment or publicity events but displays of the minimal evolution the country has allowed of their culture and personalities. Homosexuals, of all people, believe that sexuality cannot be changed. The research team Masters, and Johnson say “Companionship becomes vital to all individuals, particularly as they age. Mental deterioration associated with the aging
process can be as much delayed by psychosexuality stimulating companionship as advanced by arteriosclerosis” (Sanford 4). Laws banning homosexual marriages are biased and unjust. There is no justification for the LGBT being refused a civil right. These men and women are citizens of the United States of America. Citizens are entitled to civil rights. They should not be denied these rights because of a moral judgment based on another citizen's religious views in a country where church and state are separate. These men and women are a hurting minority. “(Gay) movement leaders think that the stress of keeping private lives secret, coupled with the fact that where the lifestyle is openly accepted is at gay clubs, contributes to an alcohol and drug abuse rate of thirty three-percent” (Hays 2). The night that they stood up for their rights their lives changed. Now they cannot stand up again. A gay man says, “How do you stand up for your rights when you are afraid to let people know you exist?” (Hays 2). There are havens of openness in the country, but there are also places of extreme hate where to be one's self can mean the destruction of one's life as he knew it and never to be able to rebuild it in that place. Homosexuals will not go away: “the early fifties was the last period when lobotomies were used to “cure” homosexuality, but the use of shock treatments lingered on for two more decades and often “therapeutic” techniques are still being used” (Bush 7). LGBT persons have been the at the butt end of jokes and guns yet they continue their struggle and fight for rights. LGBT people aren't unevolved humans; just as smart as heterosexuals, they wouldn't fight this long for something unless they truly believed they deserved it and wanted it. A lesbian woman says “she doesn't expect anyone to applaud her for the life she's chosen but she doesn't expect to be ostracized for it either. She expects to receive the same respect whe wouls if she were heterosexual”
(Young 2). The members of the LGBT community have suffered through abuse because of being normal and true to themselves; not changing but living freely and fully, reparate them with a few civil rights! A gay man says “I grew up in the '50s. I did not know till I was in my 20's that the words queer, homosexual or lesbian meant love between two people” (Harakas 6).
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