Gay marriage is indubitably the greatest civil rights issue facing the United States today. Despite the fact that gay activists have been able to get many influential people to back gay marriage, gay couples are still being discriminated in many states in the U.S. The President and vice president have come out openly supporting gay marriage but the U.S. lacks legal framework for ensuring that gay couples enjoy the same rights as people in heterosexual unions. This paper is an investigation of the civil-rights aspects of gay marriage.
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The gay rights movement has been characterized by incidences that can be used to draw parallels with the civil rights movement for the rights of black people in America, which occurred in mid-twentieth century.
An example of such incidences include the Stonewall riots in which members of the gay community protested against police raids that had been carried out at The Stonewall Inn – a gay bar. This was the birth of gay activism in the U.S., and it occurred in the summer of the year 1969. Another incidence is the murder of Matthew Shepard in the year 1998.
Shepard was gay and his prosecutors linked his murder to the fact that he was gay. There have also been incidences of suicides and other issues that can be attributed to the reaction of gay people to the attitude of the public about homosexuality. It is however important to note that gay discrimination cannot equal the level of black discrimination that existed before the civil rights movement of the mid-twentieth century.
The gay civil rights movement has been particularly fuelled by the fact that there has been inequality between the property rights of heterosexually married couples and people in gay unions.
Inequality perse is itself an issue because the Constitution advocates for equality for all citizens. Gay activists have repeatedly argued that the laws that have been written against gay marriage are a violation of the Constitution because they deprive homosexuals of their freedom to get married to a person of their choice while allowing heterosexuals to do so.
They argue that by doing so, the people who wrote and passed those laws blatantly violated the promise of protecting the Constitution, and thus they violated civil rights. In addition to this, gay couples are not able to get spouse medical insurance like heterosexual couples in states where gay marriage is prohibited.
This implies that the right to equality, as enshrined in the Constitution, is violated. Gay couples are not recognized legally in the law of succession in states that have disallowed gay unions. It is also discriminatory for gay couples to be barred from hospital visitations and other rights like adoption of children and financial, legal and tax benefits of marriage. This is a violation of property rights, which should be enjoyed by all U.S citizens.
From the discussion above, it is apparent that the arguments presented by gay rights activists regarding the violation of their rights are valid. The Constitution advocates for equality of all but some laws have been developed favouring some religions by declaring the ban against gay marriage an act of protecting the sanctity of marriage. Denying homosexual people their social rights, property rights and other rights is a violation of the constitution.