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article imageWho's ready for marriage equality? Special

By Jody-Lan Castle     Apr 3, 2013 in Politics
The debate over equal marriage rights in the US is reaching its peak. Canada was ready to grant marriage equality over 13 years ago, the UK hasn't got there yet, and the US is certainly amid a fiery discussion on the topic.
The Defense of Marriage Act, enacted in 1996, still allows the Central US Government to recognise only opposite-sex marriages. 8 federal courts have argued that Section 3 of DOMA, which states that marriage is only between a man and a woman, is unconstitutional.
The most recent case saw 83-year-old Edith Windsor sue the US Government for taxing her over $360,000 on her wife's estate. The Government had ignored her marriage to Thea Spyer, who died in 2009, which would have guaranteed her inheritance rights had they been of opposite sexes.
States in the US to have legalized same-sex marriage are Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont and Washington.
Same-sex marriage was legalised in Canada in 2005 under Prime Minister Paul Martin. Canadian Film Director William Stewart from Halifax, Nova Scotia, made a short film entitled 'Touch', about a middle-aged man coming to terms with his homosexuality. He says:
Canada’s social progressiveness is a unique feature that is distinctly Canadian since the late sixties – from decriminalizing homosexuality, abortion, initiating bilingualism, embracing and promoting multiculturalism, national healthcare, gun control, etc.
...Canadians were ready to embrace it then compared to twenty years ago.
 
Politically, one key feature that distinguishes the U.S. and Canada from each other is that the two countries have different political climates and Canadian politics, at least until 2006, never possessed the aggressive political rhetoric and negative partisanship found in U.S. politics.
William Stewart
William Stewart
William Stewart
William believes that there is enough support in the US for the Americans to embrace marriage equality. Indeed the number of Senators to support same-sex marriage has risen from 15 to 49 since 2011, according to research by Dylan Matthews. But William doubts whether this will benefit the LGBT community:
...the politicians will keep it politically divisive, much like their debate on healthcare, where the discussion moves away from the primary issue and becomes nothing more than ideologically driven rhetoric and reactionary political slandering. Unfortunately, this kind of partisan politics is beginning to display its ugly face in Canada and is dangerous because it obscures deliberately the real issue and removes sober discussion. 


At the same time, America needs this change and to keep moving forward. The country has already shown that they’re ready for change with the election and then re-election of their first Black President, Barack Obama, and healthcare.
 
What is unique about Americans is when they truly believe in something, they demonstrate it loudly with unflinching pride and determination.

The Religious Angle
According to a poll by the Washington Post/ABC News, 36% of Americans oppose marriage equality. The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life states that many Religion's official standpoint is to oppose gay marriage.
Motasem Dalloul, 33, who studied Journalism in the UK, is an example of one of the religious people who strongly opposes marriage between people of the same sex.
I am sure the Muslims will not agree [with legalizing gay marriage in the US]. I do not know about Christians...but those who are really committed will oppose it because, like Muslims, they mean what marriage means from a religious point of view.

He believes that legalizing same-sex marriage in the US would have an adverse affect on the country.
The distance between sexes will widen as women will be able to stay alone away from men and men will stay away from women. In the end, you will find the society is divided into two sexual groups; each with its own interests that it can fulfil without the need of the other.
Sex is what makes the rapprochement a necessity between men and women. Then, the human race, where there is gay marriage, will one day be extinct. At first, you will find societies without children. Then, they will diminish.
 

Jordan Weber, a 23-year-old Lifeguard from Florida, US, where same-sex marriage has not yet been legalized, doesn't think the consequences will be so negative:
I would hope gay marriage would help with the adoption dilemma in the US. I see no problem with gay parenting. As long as the parents love their kids and raise them to help our country in the future then I think more power to them!
Jordan Weber
Jordan Weber
Jordan Weber
I think the only affect it will have on other states will be their citizens going to another state to get married and receive their marriage license then coming back to their hometowns with a married title. I actually have a friend and her wife who got married in another state, but live in Florida. The wedding is still not classified as legal if brought up in the Florida legislative system...sadly.

Jordan says that Religion plays an important role in determining people's opinions and votes her state, Florida.
Florida is on the fence. As a whole Florida tends to vote more for the republican party on issues with religious standing, but that would be because parts of Florida are considered to be a part of the "bible belt" states.
Florida also has a much older population and those senior citizens tend to not like much change. So, I think due to those factors Florida will not pass a gay marriage law any time soon.
Tom Bayliss, a 25-year-old Engineer from Durham, UK, identifies himself as Christian. But he firmly supports marriage equality.
From a Christian point of view, there are plenty of places in the bible that denounce homosexuality, and therefore it's difficult for me to accept from that viewpoint. However, I'm not one to impose my views on others, it's down to the individual to choose whether to a) follow a religion and b) abide by it's rules. The whole point of Christianity is that everybody sins, we're all in the same boat, and we welcome everyone. The religious vocal opponents seem to have forgotten that.
Tom Bayliss
Tom Bayliss
Tom Bayliss
Reverend Sharon Ferguson, Chief Executive of the UK's Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, and a Senior Pastor, is also an adamant supporter of marriage equality.
There is no such thing as 'gay marriage', there is simply marriage which should be available to all people regardless of the gender of the person they love and wish to marry.
Sharon and her partner wish to get married too.
I believe that God is love and as such all love comes from God. God brought my partner and I together and has been central to our relationship. Therefore it is important that when we publicly make a commitment to each other that we do so in a ceremony that also has God central to it.
She cites various instances in the Bible where homosexual relations are mentioned.
The Bible clearly talks about the relationship between David and Jonathan in terms of marriage with Jonathan giving all he had (his dowry) to David and Saul (Jonathan's father) telling David that he is to leave his fathers house and come to live with them - which was the practice at that time. You also have the word 'cleave' used between Ruth and Naomi and the only other time this is used is between Adam and Eve.
Separation of State and Religion
William upholds that neither Religion nor the Law should have any say in whether same-sex marriage is right or wrong.
I’m always reminded of Pierre Trudeau’s remark to reporters in 1968 after decriminalizing homosexuality. He said, “The state has no business in the bedrooms of the nation.” 
 
Religion has no place in politics. 
 

Love that is shared between two people, whether they’re Christian, Hindu, Gay, Straight, Black, Jewish, etc., and their desire to share that love together for the rest of their lives outweighs any doctrine.
As individuals, that is our right and no matter what an individual’s sexual orientation is or race, they have the right to marry whomever they wish and receive all the legal benefits granted from their government. And it is the government’s responsibility to protect those rights. 

Tom reiterates: Religion and Government should be separate. Always. If the marriage we're talking about is the kind that determines custody of children or benefits, then religion shouldn't come into play. If it's a religious ceremony i.e. wedding, it should be the decision of the couple and the minister.
Sharon agrees that the Law is responsible for preserving everyone's right to make decisions over marriage themselves.
The law needs to protect people and make sure that all people are treated equally therefore the law needs to make sure that any wording does not exclude people from marriage.
The place of religion is to recognise and bless the marriages for those who believe that their love has come from God and that God is integral to their relationship. This is a matter of doctrine and theology and therefore should be left to each person to decide for themselves.
According to USA Today, the US Supreme Court is likely to rule in June.
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