News / USA

Gay Marriage Fight Sparks US Debate Over Meaning of Marriage

Multimedia

Peter Fedynsky

Rhode Island on Saturday adopted a law legalizing same-sex civil unions.  The week before, New York became the sixth American state to allow the marriage of two men or two women. Twenty-nine states have passed constitutional amendments banning homosexuals from marrying. Proponents and opponents of same-sex marriage are struggling to define the very meaning of marriage.


Four-year-old Ian was adopted at birth by Dan Gallagher and Peter Shearer, homosexuals who have lived together in what they describe as a loving relationship for 14 years.   Gallagher explains his understanding of marriage. "For me, it’s the outward expression of a commitment between two people; that the couple then has a vested interest in expressing their feeling toward each other, and showing that to others," he said.

Gays and lesbians celebrated passage of New York’s gay marriage law with an impromptu rendition of a 1964 pop song, Chapel of Love.

Ali Annunziato plans to marry her female partner next year. "I am going to enjoy my civil liberty as a woman to get married to a woman because I can and because I am in love and I should be able to do that," she said.

Many religious institutions, however, oppose gay marriage.  New York’s Roman Catholic bishops issued a statement saying society must regain a true understanding of the meaning and the place of marriage.  Monsignor Kieran Harrington, vicar of communications for the Brooklyn Diocese, says the state should not be the arbiter of who loves whom and what affection is.

"The concern of the state should be procreation, the bringing in of children into the world and to ensure that those children are raised in stable families.  That’s the role of the state, because that’s the benefit to the state.  That’s why the state confers benefits to married couples," he said.

Dan Gallagher and Peter Shearer say they try to provide Ian with a loving and stable home.  Both say homosexual couples deserve such rights as health benefits, visitation and inheritance rights.  But Shearer does not believe children are the primary criterion for marriage, noting that even some heterosexual couples cannot have any.  "Me wearing a wedding ring to work and people knowing that I’m gay, it changes their understanding of what gay couples are from what may be an unfair bias to something that’s more reality based.  I think it can actually lead to greater tolerance, so it actually even promotes a more civil society," he said.

New York’s Catholic bishops said in their statement that the church will always treat its homosexual brothers and sisters with respect, dignity and love.  But Monsignor Harrington says gay marriage represents a further erosion of the institution of marriage that is already troubled by widespread divorce, cohabitation, children born out of wedlock and, indeed, sexual scandals within the church itself.  He says failure of the state to maintain the ideal standard of marriage is a mistake.

"I think we can hold the ideal as, ‘this is what we should be holding up as the ideal, this is what the state should be supporting, and then there can be other circumstances that can be less than ideal, and the state can sometimes recognize that there are less than ideal states [circumstances]," he said.

President Barack Obama spoke recently at a White House reception for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month. "You're fighting for the idea that everyone ought to be treated equally and everybody deserves to be able to live and love as they see fit," he said.

What the president did not say is that he supports same sex civil unions, but not gay marriage. Political observers say he could risk alienating many voters by favoring gay marriage.

People on both sides of the issue agree that Ian deserves a loving home.  The difficulty is reconciling the definition of marriage.  The religious view of many is that marriage has throughout history been a place where the miracle of life takes place.  Proponents of gay marriage say recognition of homosexual love represents social progress.

You May Like

Photogallery Oxfam: Ebola Could Be 'Disaster of Our Generation'

Meanwhile, Fidel Castro, the former leader of Cuba, says the Caribbean island nation will 'gladly cooperate' with the US in the fight against Ebola in West Africa More

Multimedia Kobani Fighting Sends 400,000 Refugees to Turkey

Refugees receive help from Turkish authorities and individuals, but say much more is needed More

India’s Ruling Nationalist Party Makes Gains in Regional Elections

Bharatiya Janata Party’s huge margin over its rivals puts it on course to form governments in the northern Haryana and western Maharashtra states More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fighti
X
Zana Omer
October 18, 2014 6:37 PM
The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Syrian Defector Leaks Shocking Photos of Torture Victims

Shocking photographs purporting to show Syrian torture victims are on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The museum says the graphic images are among thousands of photographs recently smuggled out of Syria by a military policeman-turned-defector. As VOA reporter Julie Taboh reports, the museum says the photos provide further evidence of atrocities committed by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against its own people.
Video

Video Drought-Stricken California Considers Upgrading Water System

A three-year drought in California is causing a water shortage that is being felt on farms and cities throughout the state. As VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports, water experts, consumers and farmers say California needs to make changes to cope with an uncertain future.
Video

Video TechShop Puts High-tech Dreams Within Reach

Square, a business app and card reader, makes it possible to do credit card transactions through cell phones. But what made Square possible? VOA’s Adrianna Zhang and Enming Liu have the answer.
Video

Video Church for Atheists Goes Global

Atheists, by definition, do not believe in God. So they should have no need of a church. But two years ago, a pair of British stand-up comedians decided to create one. Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans told the BBC they envisioned “something like church but without God". Their “Sunday Assembly” movement has grown from a single congregation in London to dozens of churches around the world. Reporter Mike Osborne visited with the members of a Sunday Assembly that now meets regularly in Nashville.
Video

Video Robot Locates Unexploded Underwater Mines

Many educators believe that hands-on experience is the best way to learn. Proving that the method works is a project developed by a group of students at the Stevens Institute of Technology, in Hoboken, New Jersey. They rose up to a challenge posted by the U.S. Department of Defense and successfully designed and built an underwater robot for locating submerged unexploded ordnance. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's JFK Hospital Reopens After Temporary Ebola Exposure

JFK Hospital is Liberia’s largest and one of its oldest medical facilities. The hospital had to close temporarily following the deaths of two leading doctors from Ebola. It is now getting back on its feet, with the maternity ward being the first section to reopen. Benno Muchler has more for VOA News from Monrovia.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Expose Generation Gap

Most of the tens of thousands of protesters in Hong Kong are students seeking democracy. Idealistic youths say while the older generation worries about the present, they are fighting for the territory's future. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Hong Kong.
Video

Video Liberians Living in US Struggle From Afar as Ebola Ravages Homeland

More than 8,000 Liberians live in New York City, more than in any other city outside of Liberia itself. As VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports, with the Ebola virus ravaging their homeland, there is no peace of mind for these New Yorkers.
Video

Video Kurds See War-Ravaged Kobani As Political, Emotional Heartland

Intense fighting is continuing between Islamic State militants -- also known as ISIS or ISIL -- and Kurdish forces around the Syrian town of Kobani, on the Turkish border. The U.S. said it carried out at least nine airstrikes against Islamic State positions Friday. Meanwhile the U.N. has warned that hundreds of civilians would be massacred if the town falls to the militants. Henry Ridgwell looks at the strategic significance of the city.

All About America

AppleAndroid