This research examines the subject of gay and lesbian marriages. The research will set forth a working definition of the subject and then make a balanced presentation of the issue fronts involved in advocacy and opposition to it, with a view, however, toward demonstrating the basis for support for such marriages as a matter of sanctioned public policy.
Background for discourse of same-sex marriage can be dated from 1969, the year of the now-famous Stonewall riot in New York City, which fostered a generation of social activism and group advocacy on the part of homosexuals. Massachusetts US Representative Barney Frank, a self-identified homosexual, has been quoted on the issue in this way: "I don't understand how it hurts anybody else if two people want to be legally . . . responsible for each other" (Pearcey & Colson, 1996, p. 104). Pearcey and Colson, who oppose homosexual marriage chiefly on religious grounds, note that private acceptance of homosexuals "is not the same thing as normalizing homosexuality by granting homosexuals a legal right to the public institution of marriage" (p. 104). Arguments for and against same-sex marriage made on religious grounds alone appear to be irreconcilable. Accordingly, the focus herein is on civil marriage.
Arguments against homosexual marriage cite cross-cultural historical universality of marriage as an organizing principle of social and personal companionship, procreation, sexual activity, care, education, and inheritance rights of children (Marriage, 1994-2000). Former first lady and now Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton is quoted thus:
Marriage . . . has got historic, religious, and moral content that goes back to the beginning of time, and I think a marriage is as a marriage has always been: between a man and a woman (Sullivan, 2001, 18).
The federal Defense of Marriage Act of 1996, passed by a Republican Congress and signed by a Democratic president, restricts legal marriage to het...