The debate over same-sex marriage - Columns - Explorer

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The debate over same-sex marriage


The steps of the U.S. Supreme Court were packed last week with Americans who were either speaking out in favor of same-sex marriage, or those speaking out against the idea of allowing it.

This week, the steps are cleared, but the task at hand for our U.S. Justices is a difficult one as they take on a longstanding debate on whether or not same-sex couples can be legally married in the eyes of federal and state laws.

The issue made it to the nation’s highest court after a law banning same-sex marriage was passed in California. 

In looking at California’s ban on same-sex marriage, the Supreme Court is also looking at the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, also known as DOMA. The law, signed by former President Bill Clinton, bars federal recognition and benefits for same-sex couples married in any of the states (even though there are nine state that allow the civil unions).

When it comes to DOMA, it is clear proof that times are changing. Clinton signed it into law, yet today says it was wrong to do and should be reversed.

A strong supporter of DOMA for years, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, changed his position recently when his own son came out.

“I’m announcing today a change of heart on an issue that a lot of people feel strongly about that has to do with gay couples’ opportunity to marry,” Portman told CNN on March 15. “I’ve come to the conclusion that for me, personally, I think this is something that we should allow people to do, to get married, and to have the joy and stability of marriage that I’ve had for over 26 years. That I want all of my children to have, including our son, who is gay.”

This is another issue where one might have to accept that times are changing. It wasn’t so long ago that there was a big fight over whether or not interracial marriages should be legal. That was just in the 1970s. 

For many of these same-sex couples wanting to be legally married, they have been together for many years, outlasting many regular marriages between a man and a woman. Why shouldn’t they be allowed to have the same rights as I have? Why shouldn’t they be allowed to capitalize on their partners’ benefits just as I can do with my husband? Who does it really hurt?

I grew up being taught that same-sex marriage was wrong. Raised with very conservative values, it’s just how I believed. However, like Sen. Portman, personal experiences have made me change my views over time. Becoming friends with a gay couple who has been together for many years, who are quite happy and who don’t bother anyone, made me see that in the end if they were to be married I would be nothing more than happy for them.

If the Supreme Court chooses to allow same-sex marriages and allow benefits, those who disagree with it probably aren’t going to change their position.

If you disagree with it, don’t do it. Teach your children what you believe is right, which is what we as parents try to do.

However, in teaching my children values and morals, I also teach them that at the end of the day taking rights away from someone we may disagree with is also wrong.

Same-sex marriage should be legalized, federal benefits should be granted and we should move on.