Gay Marriage Ban

Gay Marriage Ban

Gay Marriage Ban

Melissa Dunson

Marriage is one the fundamental rights of a democratic political system, but Missouri voters aren’t sure they want to offer that right to everyone.

“It’s wrong for them to deny loving couples public expression,” said Jason Hare, junior Spanish major and president of Bisexuals, Gays, Lesbians and Allies for Diversity.

In August, Missouri voters went to the polls to make a resounding statement of their unity against same-sex marriage. Statewide, 91 percent of the precincts reported 70 percent in favor of a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. This was the first vote of its kind since the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled a similar initiative unconstitutional, but it would not be the last. Louisiana voters followed Missouri’s lead and on Sept. 18 voted in favor of a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Montana, Oklahoma, Oregon and Utah are scheduled to vote on the issue Nov. 2. Similar votes are pending in Michigan, North Dakota and Ohio.

“I just think that laws like this encourage prejudice,” Hare said. “It’s based on prejudice and emotional appeal.”

Hare was expelled from Ozark Christian College in 2001 after openly expressing his homosexuality. For him, the issue is a personal one. The vote represented a devastating blow to a hard fought, but losing battle, but not an unexpected one.

“I wasn’t surprised,” Hare said. “It’s really disheartening to think I grew up my whole life here and to think we encourage bigotry at the state level. My partner and I were watching T.V. when it (the vote) came in and I cried and was depressed the rest of the night.”

Critics argue same-sex marriage is wrong because of the theory that it threatens the definition and thus the sanctity of marriage. Matt Hite, senior political science major and president of the Young Republicans, worries that if the definition of marriage is changed to include homosexual unions, will the legal loophole be stretched to include unions between a man and two women or a man and his horse.

“There are a lot of problems when legal loop

holes are opened,” Hite said. “It’s not that we’re saying people can’t love each other, but where will we draw the line in the future.”

Hite said because of the high voter turnout and the margin by which the initiative passed, he thinks the view of Missouri citizens was accurately represented.

“It effectively reflects the beliefs of the area, the people of Missouri were clear,” he said. “I believe the government is of the people, so if that’s the will of the people, then it will get done.”

Many Missourians are more concerned about the moral and religious issues rather than the legal questions raised by the concept of gay marriage. Phil Gloyer, director of the Baptist Student Union, thinks the definition of marriage of is one man and one woman and the union is more than a secular approval. It is a union God participates in.

“I don’t consider it a ban on gay marriage, it’s not making it illegal, because gay marriage doesn’t exist,” Goyer said. “The amendment is just a reaffirmation of the definition of marriage that’s existed for thousands of years.”

The major problem in Goyer’s opinion is gay marriage represents a symptom of the destruction of marriage and the family that emphasizes personal sexual pleasure over sexual responsibility.

But Hare disagrees, citing the 2002 U.S. Census finding that 50 percent of all marriages end in divorce.

“Why would they say to me that I’m ruining marriage, when they’re the ones getting divorced,” Hare said. “Don’t worry, if gays can get married, Britney Spears will still be allowed to get married and divorced three days later. Yeah, marriage is so sacred.”

Michelle Parks, sophomore international studies major, agrees with Hare and doesn’t understand the argument denying gays the right of marriage based on its destruction of the definition of marriage.

“It’s not really an issue of it making it less sacred,” Parks said. “It’s not to confer any religious recognition on the coupling, it’s that if you don’t have a marriage certificate, you don’t have certain rights. It’s not about the sacredness or lack thereof. They just want their legal rights.”

Parks is the treasurer of B-GLAD, but is not homosexual and yet still supports the idea of gay marriage simply on the principle of love as an abstract free idea.

“I don’t think anybody has a right to tell people who they can fall in love with and have a family with,” she said. “All families are created equal regardless of the two people’s genders.”

This issue divides the campus, nation, and the White House. President Bush supports a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, while Vice President Dick Cheney, who’s daughter is openly gay, disagrees and said the issue should be left to the individual states’ discretions, but added he would support Bush’s decision. Presidential candidate John Kerry opposes a constitutional amendment, but also opposes gay marriage, clarifying that he would support a state amendment banning same-sex marriages.