The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Gay Rights: For the Children

By Michael Sikivie

While I doubt that many
of the young students here at Macalester are thinking about marriage,
we do pride ourselves on being open-minded and non-discriminatory.
That’s why I’d like to call attention to what is no doubt the
most widespread, accepted, and concrete form of discrimination in
this country (and probably many others) today: our refusal to allow
gay marriage and adoption. Contrary to our political rhetoric and
popular prejudices, this discrimination has very real consequences
and is hurting, not protecting, family values.

The penalties of not
being able to marry are numerous: health insurance, pension benefits
and workers’ compensation can all hinge on marriage. Tax benefits
for married couples and the ability to jointly rent or own property
are all denied to same sex couples. Add to these economic
consequences the psychological consequences of not having sick leave
or hospital visitation rights or the ability to make funeral
arrangements. Social conservatives
often argue that the best environment in which to raise a child is a
stable, two-parent household, and for once I could hardly agree more.

That’s why opposing gay marriage on the basis of “family values”
is such a low form of hypocrisy. In effect, they’re facilitating
sex outside of marriage (irony of ironies!) but more importantly,
they’re harming children, particularly foster children. There’s
a shortage of parents to adopt the country’s over 568,000 children
in foster care. In one six month period, children were entering
foster care at three times the rate that they were being adopted, and
31% of adoptive parents are single mothers. One might expect than
that the government would accept anyone willing to provide a
permanent home for these children, but gay adoption of foreign
children is banned throughout the country; Fla., Utah, and Miss. ban
all gay adoption; and gay marriage is illegal in every state except

There’s certainly no
mention of gay rights anywhere in the constitution (indeed, it’s
legal for employers to discriminate against employees on the basis of
sexual orientation in 36 states and fire employees simply for being
gay), but is it not an issue of equal protection under the law?
Besides, isn’t it sex discrimination to tell someone they can’t
marry someone on the basis of their gender? Some oppose gay marriage
on religious grounds, and I respect the first amendment right of any
church to not recognize a gay marriage, but those people should
respect the separation of church and state. The first amendment
states that “Congress shall make no law respecting the
establishment of a religion or curtailing the free exercise thereof.”
Many marriages are done in a city hall, a completely secular

The above-mentioned
laws and public opinion (something like two thirds of Americans
oppose legalizing gay marriage) seem stacked against gay rights, and
the newly empowered Democrats in congress haven’t taken up the
issue. These prejudices can be politically defeated, just like
racism and sexism, but only if enlightened people (like most of us)
continue to exercise our frown power. So support the right to gay
marriage and adoption for the sake of economic and legal equality and
the good of children.

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