Does denying same sex-marriage conflict with the American Dream?

Pre-University Paper, 2012

17 Pages, Grade: Sehr Gut Minus (13 Punkte)


Table of Contens

1. Introduction

2. Present Situation

3. The New Civil Rights Dispute
3.1. Opposition: Biblical and Natural Law Arguments
3.2. Support: Liberal and Constitutional Arguments
3.3. Proposition

4. Children of Homosexual Parents

5. Example: The Life of a Californian Lesbian Couple

5. Conclusion

6. Bibliography

7. Attachments


1. Introduction

The dream of an America with boundless possibilities has shaped the American society over centuries. As the historian James Truslow Adams defined the phrase “The American Dream“ in 1931, it is the “dream of a land, in that life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with the opportunity for each according to ability or achievement“ and in that everyone should “be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the furtuitous circumstances of birth or position”1. The idea of the American dream is rooted in the United States´ Declaration of Independence which declares that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness”2.

However there are issues like homosexuality and same-sex marriage that, with regard to the ban on same-sex marriage present in most of the United States, seem to be contrary to the notion of the American Dream. Thus one has to ask: Don´t gays/lesbians deserve the Pursuit of Happiness and the same rights as heterosexuals? Does marriage fit in as an inalienable right? Or quite simply, does denying same-sex marriage conflict with the American Dream?

In the following I am going to deal with those questions under close examination of the present situation in the United States, same-sex marriage beeing the new civil rights dispute and in that context the supporting and opposing arguments, as well as the California ballot Propositon 8 and the situation of children of gay parents. Further I am going to include the results of an interview with a lesbian couple that lives in North California with its 7 year old daughter.

2. Present Situation

At present there are approximately 1.2 Million gay couples living in the United States, so the total number of gay couples amounts to about 594,391. Thereof, with a quantity of 92,138, California is the state with the most gay couples. Altogether gay people make up 1-4% of the population in all cities and especially concentrate in metropolian areas like Washington D.C. that registers the highest concentration of gay couples (1.29%).3

Yet gay marriage is merely legal in 6 U.S. states –Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York- and Washington D.C.. New York solely recognizes out-of-state gay marriages and so does California, however only if the marriage is from before Proposition 8 was passed. New Jersey recognizes civil unions between same-sex couples and several states have domestic partnership laws that grant certain benefits to them.4 “On the flip side, thirty states have passed constitutional amendments or laws explicitly banning same-sex marriage”.5

But on the social level, the general visibility and acceptance of homosexuality has increased, especially during the past few years and especially among younger generations. This is last but not least a consequence of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) social movements and a soaring awareness due to globalization. As it becomes more and more acceptable for homosexuals to acknowledge their sexual orientations in public, more and more commit themselves to their partners for life. Hence, as the call for legal gay marriage or equal access to civil marriage for same-sex couples becomes more visible and the issue more public, the imperative to solve the issue also increases.

3. The New Civil Rights Dispute

The United States is quite obviously one of the most diverse nations of the world. It is home to people of various races, religions and cultures with various traditions, beliefs and values. While this diversity provides special and irreplacable contribution to the country, it also pulls the trigger for a great number of disputes, civil rights issues beeing the most intense of them.

We have seen the colonist successfully fight for their independence and founding the United States of America. We have seen women, campaign for and finally beeing granted the right to vote. And we have seen the long, brutal struggle of African-Americans eking out their way from slavery, over segregation and racism to eventual freedom and equality. All those people fought for what they believed in and dreamed of, for what they found to be their inalienable right and for what they needed to achieve their own personal Pursuit of Happiness, with social acceptance always coming before the legal.

The new, present civil rights dispute centers around homosexuality and, while beeing more and more accepted on the social level, the access for gay people to legal marriage. The debate confronts a great range of opposing and favoring arguments, that rest upon religion, tradition, history, ethics, politics, and last but not least the quintessence of the American Dream.

3.1. Opposition: Biblical and Natural Law Arguments

The most common oppositional view towards homosexuality is fairly simple. It states that homosexuality is an aberration that requires a cure, so it declares all human beeings as beeing essentially heterosexual. For the sake of simplicity, lets call this view the prohibitionist view.

Many of the prohibitionist arguments are based on religious grounds. The Bible, or more precisely the Old Testament professes homosexuality as a breach of the covenant with God. For instance, in Levitikus 18:22 it says very clearly:” Though shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind; it is an abomination (…) If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have commited an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.” In Romans 1:26-27 Saint Paul writes: “For this cause God gave them up into vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet.” So as beeing gay in general is defined as beeing an anathema to God, gay marriage in particular is not even considered in the Scripture.

The modern, prohibitionist view on homosexuality is not primarily scripturally based, but rests upon the theory of natural law. Natural law theory originated in Genesis and was elaborated by Aristotle.The most influential interpretation of natural law theory, however, descends from Thomas Aquinas, a philosopher, theologian and Dominican friar living in medieval Italy. He “took the notion of an individuals nature and universalized it. Drawing on Aristotle´s conception of normative nature, Aquinas theorized that all human beeings had a single fundamental nature and a single natural end.”6 And as the natural end of the sex act is to procreate, all human beeings` sexuality is linked to procreation. On the contrary, in this view, “homosexuality is against the order of the universe”7, so against natural law. Pushed by the Roman Catholic Church, this view spread all across Western civilization. On this basis prohibitionists argue that only heterosexual marriage, given the possibility of marital procreation, is a divinely ordained bond.

Furthermore, opponents of homosexuality see a threat of social and familial stability in the issue of same-sex marriage. They fear that its acknowledgement would undermine the traditional family live which, with regard to the anyway “unprecedent state of collapse”8 of families nowadays, was urgently to be prevented if we wanted to preserve the human race.

3.2. Support: Liberal and Constitutional Arguments

Yet the prohibitionist´s argumentations are countered by an increasingly-acknowledged view in favor of gay marriage that, in my oppinion, easily outdoes the opposition.

Regarding the befliefs which rely upon religious grounds, supporters claim that refusing to accept homosexuality is a refusal to acccept the complexity of God´s creation, a refusal to accept “the human person, made in the image and likeness of God.”9 This certainly is a matter of belief; however, religious arguments are quite simply condemned by the fact of the United States being a liberal democracy. “One of the first principles of liberal societies, as they have emerged from theocracies and dictatorships of the past, is that the religious is not the same as the political”10, meaning that church and state are seperated. Many of the first European settlers who came to the former Colonial America a couple of centuries ago dreamed of finding religious freedom, as they were beeing persecuted for their faith at home. The Constitution of the United States now forbids the constraint of people into unwilling obedience to religious authority. The American Dream is rooted on human freedom and equality.


1 Truslow Adams, J.: The Epic of America. New York 1938, p. 412

2 Adams, J.; Jefferson, T.; Fanklin, B.; a. o.: The Declaration of Independence, 1776

3 data taken from: Alper,G.: The Gay Law Report. Insight& Analysis of LGBT Legal Issue and related News. Gay Marriage Facts& Statistics. Nov 1, 2010. Released: Last update: March 27, 2012

4 data taken from: Alper,G.: The Gay Law Report

5 Jones, M.: A Few Statistics on LGBT ISSUE. Oct 5, 2008. Released: Last update: March 27, 2012

6 Sullivan,A.: Virtually Normal: An Argument About Homosexuality. New York, 1995. Position 447

7 Sullivan,A.: Position 459

8 Sullivan, A.: Position 1441

9 Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger: Letter of the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons, 1986

10 Sullivan, A.: Position 348

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Does denying same sex-marriage conflict with the American Dream?
Sehr Gut Minus (13 Punkte)
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ISBN (Book)
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Homosexualität, Homosexuality, gleichgeschlechtliche Ehe/ Heirat, USA, US, Same-sex marriage, Facharbeit, Essay, American Dream, Amerikanischer Traum
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Wiebke Marie von Bremen (Author), 2012, Does denying same sex-marriage conflict with the American Dream?, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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