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					                                          Should gay marriage be legal?
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                                 As of July 20, 2011, gay marriage is allowed in six US states (MA, CT,                           Did You Know?
                                 IA, VT, NH, and NY) and the District of Columbia. 30 states have
                                 constitutional amendments banning gay marriage.                                             Pro & Con Arguments
                                                                                                                             Top Pro & Con Quotes
                                 Proponents argue that same-sex couples should have access to the
                                 same marriage benefits and public acknowledgment enjoyed by                                        Background
                                 heterosexual couples and that prohibiting gay marriage is                                         Video Gallery
                                 unconstitutional discrimination.
                                 Opponents argue that altering the traditional definition of marriage as
                                 between a man and a woman will further weaken a threatened institution
                                 and that legalizing gay marriage is a slippery slope that may lead to
                                 polygamous and interspecies marriages.

Gay Marriage is a nonpartisan, nonprofit website that presents facts, studies, and pro and con statements on questions related to whether or not
                                                        same sex marriage should be legalized.

Did You Know?
   1. As of July 20, 2011, gay marriage remains legal in the following
      states: Massachusetts (May 17, 2004), Connecticut (Nov. 12,
      2008), Iowa (Apr. 24. 2009), Vermont (Sep. 1, 2009), New
      Hampshire (Jan. 1, 2010), New York (June 24, 2011) and the
      District of Columbia (Mar. 3, 2010). [1] 30 states have constitutional
      amendments banning gay marriage. [25]

   2. Massachusetts, which became the first state to legalize gay
      marriage on May 17, 2004, had the lowest divorce rate in the
      country in 2008. Its divorce rate declined 21% between 2003 and
      2008. [2]

   3. The Congressional Budget Office estimated on Dec. 17, 2009 that
      extending employment benefits to same-sex domestic partners
      of federal employees would cost the federal government $596
      million (29 KB) in mandatory spending and $302 million in
      discretionary spending between 2010 and 2019. [37]

   4. The Williams Institute at UCLA Law School estimated the positive
      economic impact of legalizing gay marriage in New Jersey to be
      $248 million over three years, creating 800 new jobs (414 KB)
      and bringing in an additional $19 million in government revenues.

   5. As of Sep. 15, 2010, 10 out of 194 countries allow same-sex
      couples to marry (21 KB) : the Netherlands (2000), Belgium
      (2003), Canada (2005), Spain (2005), South Africa (2006), Norway
      (2009), Sweden (2009), Argentina (2010), Iceland (2010), and
      Portugal (2010). Gay couples are allowed to wed in parts of
      Australia and Mexico. [39]
Pro & Con Arguments: "Should gay marriage be legal?"
PRO Gay Marriage                                                CON Gay Marriage

  1. It is no one else's business if two men or two women         1. The institution of marriage has traditionally been
     want to get married. Two people of the same sex who             defined as between a man and a woman. In the Oct.
     love each other should be allowed to publicly celebrate         15, 1971 decision Baker v. Nelson (186 KB) , the
     their commitment (357 KB) and receive the same                  Supreme Court of Minnesota found that "The
     benefits of marriage as opposite sex couples. [40]              institution of marriage as a union of man and woman,
                                                                     uniquely involving the procreation and rearing of
  2. There is no such thing as traditional marriage. Given           children within a family, is as old as the book of
     the prevalence of modern and ancient examples of                Genesis.” [49]
     family arrangements based on polygamy, communal
     child-rearing, the use of concubines and mistresses          2. Marriage is already threatened with high divorce rates
     and the commonality of prostitution, heterosexual               (between 40% and 50%) (851 KB) and with 40.6% of
     monogamy can be considered "unnatural” in                       babies being born to unmarried mothers (312 KB) in
     evolutionary terms. [3]                                         2008. Allowing same-sex couples to marry would
                                                                     further weaken the institution. [50] [51]
  3. Gay marriage is protected by the Constitution's
     commitments to liberty and equality. The US Supreme          3. Gay marriage could potentially lead down a "slippery
     Court declared in 1974’s Cleveland Board of                     slope” ending with giving people in polygamous,
     Education v. LaFleur that the "freedom of personal              incestuous, bestial, and other nontraditional
     choice in matters of marriage and family life is one of         relationships the right to marry. [10] Glen Lavy, JD,
     the liberties protected by the Due Process Clause.” US          senior counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund, argued
     District Judge Vaughn Walker wrote on Aug. 4, 2010              in a May 21, 2008 Los Angeles Times Op-Ed, "The
     that Prop. 8 in California banning gay marriage was             movement for polygamy and polyamory is poised to
     "unconstitutional under both the Due Process and                use the successes of same-sex couples as a
     Equal Protection Clauses (343 KB) .” [41]                       springboard for further de-institutionalizing marriage."
  4. Denying same-sex couples the right to marry
     stigmatizes gay and lesbian families (117 KB) as             4. Gay marriage is incompatible with the beliefs, sacred
     inferior and sends the message that it is acceptable to         texts, and traditions of many religious groups. The
     discriminate against them. The Massachusetts                    Catholic Church, Presbyterian Church, Islam, United
     Supreme Court wrote in an opinion to the state Senate           Methodist Church, Southern Baptist Convention,
     on Feb. 3, 2004 that offering civil unions was not an           Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, National
     acceptable alternative to gay marriage because " is        Association of Evangelicals, and American Baptist
     a considered choice of language that reflects a                 Churches USA all oppose same-sex marriage.
     demonstrable assigning of same-sex, largely                     Expanding marriage to include same-sex couples may
     homosexual, couples to second-class status." [42]               lead to churches being forced to marry couples and
                                                                     children being taught in school that same-sex marriage
  5. Gay marriages can bring financial gain to state and             is the same as opposite-sex marriage. [12]
     local governments. Revenue from gay marriage comes
     from marriage licenses, higher income taxes (the so-         5. People should not have their tax dollars used to
     called "marriage penalty"), and decreases in costs for          support something they find wrong. Gay marriage
     state benefit programs. [4] The Comptroller for New             would entitle gay couples to typical marriage benefits
     York City found that legalizing gay marriage would              including claiming a tax exemption for a spouse,
     bring $142 million to the City’s economy and $184               receiving social security payments from a deceased
     million to the State’s economy (127 KB) over three              spouse, and coverage by a spouse’s health insurance
     years. [43]                                                     policy. On Dec. 17, 2009, the Congressional Budget
                                                                     Office estimated that the cost to the federal
  6. Gay marriage will make it easier for same-sex couples           government of extending employment benefits to
     to adopt children. In the US, 100,000 children are              same-sex domestic partners of certain federal
                                                                     employees (making no mention of additional costs
     waiting to be adopted (319 KB) . A longitudinal study
    published in Pediatrics on June 7, 2010 found that             such as Social Security and inheritance taxes) would
    children of lesbian mothers were rated higher than             be $596 million in mandatory spending and $302
    children of heterosexual parents in social and                 million in discretionary spending (28 KB) between
    academic competence and had fewer social problems              2010 and 2019. [37]
    (293 KB)   . A July 2010 study found that children of
    gay fathers were "as well-adjusted as those adopted        6. Gay marriage will lead to more children being raised in
    by heterosexual parents (144 KB) .” [44] [45] [46]            same-sex households which are not an optimum
                                                                  environment for raising children because children need
7. Marriage provides both physical and psychological              both a mother and father. Girls who are raised apart
   health benefits and recent research suggests that              from their fathers are reportedly at higher risk for early
   refusing to allow same-sex couples to marry has                sexual activity (827 KB) and teenage pregnancy.
   resulted in harmful psychological effects. [5] The             Children without a mother are deprived of the
   American Psychological Association, American                   emotional security and unique advice that mothers
   Psychiatric Association, and others wrote in a Sep.            provide. An Apr. 2001 study published in American
   2007 amicus brief, "...allowing same-sex couples to            Sociological Review suggesed that children with
   marry would give them access to the social support             lesbian or gay parents are more likely to engage in
   (277 KB)   that already facilitates and strengthens            homosexual behavior (3.9 MB) . In the 1997 book
   heterosexual marriages, with all of the psychological          Growing up in a Lesbian Family: Effects on Child
   and physical health benefits associated with that              Development, Fiona Tasker, PhD, and Susan
   support.” [47]                                                 Golombok, PhD, observed that 25% of sampled young
                                                                  adults raised by lesbian mothers had engaged in a
8. Allowing same-sex couples to marry will give them              homoerotic relationship, compared to 0% of sampled
   access to basic rights such as hospital visitation during      young adults raised by heterosexual mothers. [13] [52]
   an illness, taxation and inheritance rights, access to          [53]
   family health coverage, and protection in the event of
   the relationship ending. [6] An Oct. 2, 2009 analysis by    7. Gay marriage will accelerate the "assimilation” of gays
   the New York Times estimates that a same-sex couple            into mainstream heterosexual culture. The gay
   denied marriage benefits will incur an additional              community has created its own vibrant culture. By
   $41,196 to $467,562 in expenses over their lifetime            reducing the gap of opportunities and experiences
   compared to a married heterosexual couple. [7]                 between gay and heterosexual people, this unique
                                                                  culture may cease to exist. As M.V. Lee Badgett
9. The Executive Board of the American Anthropological            summarizes, "marriage means adopting heterosexual
   Association found that more than a century of research         forms of family and giving up distinctively gay family
   has shown "no support whatsoever for the view that             forms and perhaps even gay and lesbian culture." [14]
   either civilization or viable social orders depend upon
   marriage as an exclusively heterosexual institution.        8. The institution of marriage is sexist and oppressive; it
   Rather, anthropological research supports the                  should not be expanded but weakened. Paula
   conclusion that a vast array of family types, including        Ettelbrick, JD, Professor of Law and Women's Studies,
   families built upon same-sex partnerships, can                 wrote in 1989, "Marriage runs contrary to two of the
   contribute to stable and humane societies." [8]                primary goals of the lesbian and gay movement: the
                                                                  affirmation of gay identity and culture and the
10. Marriage in the US is a secular and dynamic institution       validation of many forms of relationships." [15] The
    that has gone under several major transformations.            leaders of the Gay Liberation Front in New York said in
    Interracial marriage was illegal in many US states until      July 1969, "We expose the institution of marriage as
    a 1967 Supreme Court decision. Coverture, where a             one of the most insidious and basic sustainers of the
    woman's legal rights and economic identity were               system. The family is the microcosm of oppression.”
    subsumed by her husband upon marriage, was
    commonplace in 19th century America. No-fault
    divorce has changed the institution of marriage since      9. Same-sex marriage has lead to increased acceptance
    its introduction in California on Jan. 1, 1970. Nancy         of single parenthood and has undermined the
    Cott, PhD, testified in Perry v. Schwarzenegger that          institution of marriage in Scandinavia. Sweden began
    "[c]ivil law has always been supreme in defining and          offering same-sex couples benefits in 1987, followed
                                                                  by Denmark in 1989 and Norway in 1993. According to
    regulating marriage” (343 KB) and that religious
                                                                  a Feb. 29, 2004 report by Stanley Kurtz, PhD, 60% of
      leaders are accustomed to performing marriages only             firstborn children in Denmark and a majority of children
      because the state has given them that authority. [41]           in Sweden and Norway are born out of wedlock. [17]

  11. Legalizing gay marriage will not harm heterosexual          10. Marriage is not a right. Society can choose to endorse
      marriages or "family values.” A study published on              certain types of sexual arrangements and give support
      Apr. 13, 2009 in Social Science Quarterly found that            in the form of benefits to these arrangements.
      "[l]aws permitting same-sex marriage or civil unions            Marriage was created to allow society to support
      have no adverse effect on marriage (109 KB) ,                   heterosexual couples in procreation and society can
      divorce, and abortion rates, [or] the percent of children       choose not to give the same benefits to same-sex
      born out of wedlock..." [48]                                    couples. [18]

  12. Massachusetts, which became the first state to              11. Marriage should not be extended to same-sex couples
      legalize gay marriage in 2004, had the lowest divorce           because homosexual relationships have nothing to do
      rate in the country in 2008. Its divorce rate declined          with procreation. Allowing gay marriage would only
      21% between 2003 and 2008. Alaska, the first state to           further shift the purpose of marriage from producing
      alter its constitution to prohibit gay marriage in 1998,        and raising children to adult gratification. [19]
      saw a 17.2% increase in its divorce rate. The seven
      states with the highest divorce rates between 2003          12. Marriage is a religious rite. According to a July 31,
      and 2008 all had constitutional prohibitions to gay             2003 statement from the Congregation for the Doctrine
      marriage. [2]                                                   of the Faith and approved by Pope John Paul II,
                                                                      marriage "was established by the Creator with its own
  13. If marriage is about reproduction, then infertile couples       nature, essential properties and purpose. No ideology
      would not be allowed to marry. Ability or desire to             can erase from the human spirit the certainty that
      create offspring has never been a qualification for             marriage exists solely between a man and a woman
      marriage. George Washington, often referred to as               (67 KB)  …” [54]
      "the Father of Our Country,” did not have children with
      his wife Martha Custis, and neither did four other          13. If a gay man or lesbian woman wants to get married,
      married US presidents. [9]                                      all they need to do is choose not to be gay and marry
                                                                      someone of the opposite sex. During the May 15, 1996
                                                                      hearings of the House Judiciary Committee on the
                                                                      Defense of Marriage Act, Representative Bob Inglis
                                                                      (R-SC) objected to gay rights activists comparing their
                                                                      fight for marriage equality with the African-American
                                                                      civil rights movement. He argued, "The fact is, that [it]
                                                                      is not a choice to be black, but it is a choice - I know
                                                                      you don't like this, but it is obviously a choice to be
                                                                      homosexual." [20]

Background: "Should gay marriage be legal?"
                  (click to enlarge image)
 Same-sex marriage supporters protest the passage of
 Proposition 8 in front of San Francisco City Hall.
 Source: Darryl Bush,, Nov. 15, 2008

As of July 20, 2011, gay marriage is allowed in six US states (MA, CT, IA, VT, NH, and NY) and the District of Columbia. 30
states have constitutional amendments banning gay marriage.

Proponents argue that same-sex couples should have access to the same marriage benefits and public acknowledgment
enjoyed by heterosexual couples and that prohibiting gay marriage is unconstitutional discrimination.

Opponents argue that altering the traditional definition of marriage as between a man and a woman will further weaken a
threatened institution and that legalizing gay marriage is a slippery slope that may lead to polygamous and interspecies

The gay rights movement in the US can be traced back to the Stonewall Riots that occurred following a police raid on the
Stonewall Inn in New York City at 3 a.m. on June 28, 1969. Police raids on gay bars were commonplace, but on this occasion
the gay and lesbian patrons fought back and sparked days of protests. The Stonewall Riots marked the beginning of a political
movement for gay rights during a time when it was illegal to have homosexual sex in all states except for Illinois. [21] Between
1969 and 1974, the number of gay organizations in the country swelled from fewer than 50 to nearly a thousand. [22]

Gay-rights activism in the 1970s focused more on personal liberation and visibility than on gaining access to institutions such
as marriage. While some gay activists sought the right to marry in the early 1970s, others rejected marriage as "heterosexist”
and saw it as an outdated institution. [23] The gay liberation movement achieved a victory in Dec. 1973 when the American
Psychiatric Association declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder and the American Psychological Association did the
same in 1975. [24]
                      (Click to enlarge image)
   States with constitutional amendments banning gay marriage
   Source: Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, "State Policies
   on Same-Sex Marriage,”, July 8, 2009

The increased visibility of the gay community prompted a well publicized backlash by opponents of gay-rights. One high-
profile opponent of gay rights was singer and former Miss Oklahoma Anita Bryant who founded the group Save Our Children
and campaigned to repeal local ordinances that prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation. During the 1980s, news
of the AIDS epidemic increased homophobia and discrimination but also encouraged the gay community to further organize.
Following the news that actor Rock Hudson was dying of AIDS, attitudes towards both AIDS and the gay community started to
shift. In 1983, Congressman Gerry Studds (D-MA) became the first openly gay Congressman, followed by Congressman
Barney Frank (D-MA) in 1987. [23]

The current national debate on gay marriage was sparked by the Supreme Court of Hawaii’s 3-1 ruling on May 5, 1993 (152
KB)   that the state could not ban same-sex marriages without "a compelling reason” to do so. [55] The case was sent back to
a lower court but voters approved a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage before the courts settled the issue.
Although a gay marriage was never performed in Hawaii, the issue gained national attention and prompted over 40 states
over the next decade to pass Defense of Marriage Acts (DOMAs) that defined marriage as a legal union between one man
and one woman. [25] On Sep. 21, 1996, President Bill Clinton signed the federal Defense of Marriage Act into law which
defined marriage at the federal level as between a man and a woman. The federal DOMA statute ensured that no state would
be forced to recognize gay marriages performed in other states and prevented same-sex couples from receiving federal
protections and benefits given to married heterosexual couples.
                  (Click to enlarge image)
 US gay marriage laws, state by state
 Source: Freedom to Marry, "States,”, Apr. 16, 2010

On Dec. 20, 1999, the Vermont Supreme Court ruled unanimously in Baker v. Vermont (202 KB) that same-sex couples were
entitled to the same rights, protections, and benefits as heterosexual couples. [56] On July 1, 2000, Vermont became the first
state in the US to institute civil unions, giving same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual married couples without
calling it marriage.

On June 26, 2003, the US Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in Lawrence v. Texas that sodomy laws were unconstitutional. In
overruling the court’s June 30, 1986 decision in Bowers v. Hardwick, the court established a right to sexual privacy and
Justice Antonin Scalia predicted in his dissent that the majority decision "leaves on pretty shaky grounds state laws limiting
marriage to opposite-sex couples.”

On Nov. 18, 2003, Massachusetts highest court ruled that the state must allow same-sex couples to marry. Unlike the 1999
Vermont Supreme Court ruling, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court did not provide the legislature the opportunity to
offer an alternative to marriage such as civil unions. On May 17, 2004, the first legal gay marriage in the US was performed in
Cambridge, MA between Tanya McCloskey, a massage therapist, and Marcia Kadishm, an employment manager at an
engineering firm. [26]

Before 2004, four states had banned gay marriages. In 2004, 13 states saw their constitutions amended by referenda to ban
gay marriage. Between 2005 and Sep. 15, 2010, 14 more states followed suit, bringing the total number of states with
constitutional bans on gay marriage to 30. [25]

On July 14, 2004, an effort in the US Senate to pass a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriagereceived only 48 votes
of the necessary 60 votes for the proposal to proceed. On Sep. 30, 2004, the US House of Representatives also rejected a
constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage by a vote of 227 to 186, 49 votes shy of the necessary two-thirds majority. [27]
                              (Click to enlarge image)
   Out-of-wedlock births in the Netherlands, 1970-2003
   Source: Stanley Kurtz, PhD, "Going Dutch?”, May 31,

California, with the nation’s largest and most racially diverse gay and lesbian population, has played a prominent role in the
modern gay marriage debate. On Feb. 15, 2004, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom ordered the city to begin issuing
marriage licenses to same sex-couples. On Mar. 11, 2004 the California Supreme Court ordered a halt to same-sex weddings
and voided the marriages on Aug. 12, 2004. In a 4-3 ruling on May 15, 2008, the California Supreme Court overturned state
laws banning gay marriage. [28] Between May 2008 and Nov. 4, 2008, an estimated 18,000 same-sex couples married in CA.
[29] On Nov. 4, 2008, 52.3% of California voters approved ballot measure Proposition 8 which made same-sex marriage illegal
in the state. On May 26, 2009, the California Supreme Court upheld Proposition 8’s gay marriage ban, but on Aug. 4, 2010,
US District Judge Vaughn R. Walker struck down Proposition 8 (343 KB) . [41]. An Aug. 16, 2010 ruling by a three-judge panel
of the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has put gay marriage in California on hold and plans to hear arguments the week of
Dec. 6, 2010. [30] Following Judge Walker's ruling, many organizations used the opportunity to express their views on gay

 (Click to enlarge image)
 US gay marriage polls, 1988-2010
 Source: Nate Silver, "Opinion on Same-Sex Marriage Appears to Shift at
 Accelerated Pace,”, Aug. 12, 2010

On Aug. 4, 2010, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints released a statement saying, "Marriage between a man and
a woman is the bedrock of society." [33] On Aug. 10, 2010, the American Bar Association's House of Delegates voted to
support gay marriage. [31] The following day, the American Psychological Association reiterated its support for same-sex
marriage. [32] In a Sep. 13, 2010 speech, Pope Benedict XVI expressed his opposition to gay marriage, saying the Roman
Catholic Church "cannot approve of legal initiatives that imply a re-evaluation of the life of the couple and the family." [34]

From 1988 to 2010, public support for gay marriage has increased at a rate of 1 to 1.5 points per year, with evidence to
suggest an acceleration of support since 2009. [35] On Aug. 11, 2010, CNN released the results of the first national poll to
show a majority support for gay marriage, with 52% agreeing that "gays and lesbians should have a constitutional right to get
married and have their marriage recognized by law as valid.” [36]

On July 19, 2011, the Obama administration announced that it will support a bill by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) to repeal
the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). This follows President Obama's decision on Feb. 23, 2011 to instruct the Justice
Department to stop defending DOMA, the federal law that defines marriage as a legal union between a man and woman, over
concerns that it violates the equal protection component of the Fifth Amendment. [57] [58]

The following states allow gay marriage as of July 20, 2011: Massachusetts (May 17, 2004), Connecticut (Nov. 12, 2008),
Iowa (Apr. 24, 2009), Vermont (Sep. 1, 2009), New Hampshire (Jan. 1, 2010), New York (June 24, 2011), and the District of
Columbia (Mar. 3, 2010). [1]

As of Sep. 15, 2010, the following 10 countries allow same-sex couples to marry (21 KB) : the Netherlands (2000), Belgium
(2003), Canada (2005), Spain (2005), South Africa (2006), Norway (2009), Sweden (2009), Argentina (2010), Iceland (2010),
and Portugal (2010). [39] Gay couples are allowed to wed in parts of Australia and Mexico.

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