Gay marriage is hot topic

Staff Editorial

2004 is already off to a controversial start, with the issue of same-sex marriage leading the pack of volatile topics.

In only two months, two states have enacted far-reaching measures in favor of same-sex marriage, and the president has taken a bold stand against the issue.

On Feb. 4 the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled that it is unconstitutional for the state to forbid same-sex marriages, and it gave the state legislature six months to rewrite its marriage laws to include gay and lesbian couples.

The mayor of San Francisco ordered city officials on Feb. 12 to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, citing a clause of California’s constitutional which guarantees equal protection under the law to all citizens. Over 1,700 couples obtained marriage licenses in the first three days.

The president, never afraid to take an immediate stand on anything, has condemned same-sex marriage and recent actions in support of the issue.

In his Jan. 20 State of the Union address, Bush called for America to “defend the sanctity of marriage,” and condemned “activist judges [who] have begun redefining marriage by court order, without regard for the will of the people and their elected representatives.”

He said America should “take a principled stand for one of the most fundamental, enduring institutions of our civilization,” and hinted that the federal government may interfere in state actions “if judges insist on forcing their arbitrary will upon the people.”

Same-sex relationships are certainly not new to our society, nor is legislation recognizing same-sex couples.

Same-sex civil unions, which give same-sex couples similar rights to heterosexual couples, have been legal in Vermont since 2000.

Yet 35 states have laws that ban same-sex marriages, and the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act prevents the federal government from legally recognizing same-sex unions.

Recent measures in Massachusetts, Vermont and California are an anomaly among the 50 states.

The question is, what’s the big deal about allowing gays and lesbians to marry?

Critics say it is an issue of religion, and that legalizing same-sex marriages would undermine traditional religious beliefs by radically transforming the country’s concept of family and marriage.

Why are some people so adamant that permitting same-sex marriages would corrupt the moral fabric of the nation?

With the divorce rate at 49 percent, it appears that our country’s concept of family and marriage has nowhere to go but up.

As for traditional religious beliefs, most major religions forbid divorce.

Would same-sex marriage undermine only the beliefs of the conservative Christian 51 percent of the population that is not divorced?

The moral fabric of this country has been unraveling for decades.

Children bring assault rifles into schools and kill their classmates. Corporations bankrupt their employees in the name