Only six states in the United States currently allow members of the LGBTQ community to get married. A common argument against legalizing this policy across the country is the sanctity of the traditional institution of marriage. But this argument is flawed. Laws prohibiting same-sex marriage, like the Federal Defense of Marriage Act and certain state statutes and amendments, should be eliminated.
The divorce rate for heterosexual couples is more than 50 percent, and it seems many marriages take credence from the “traditional” debate. With the widely publicized announcement that celebrity Kim Kardashian ended her marriage after only 72 days, it’s difficult to argue that same-sex couples would disgrace the sanctity of marriage when heterosexual couples do that on their own.
On Monday, The New York Times reported that Kardashian filed for divorce from NBA player Kris Humphries. The couple earned more than $17.5 million in television and magazine appearances during their 10-weeklong marriage. Though Kardashian denies the marriage was planned for her to make money or gain publicity, many people are hesitant to believe she’s telling the truth.
Obviously, the forthcoming divorce of Kardashian and Humphries is a highly publicized example of an unconventional marriage. During his visit to campus on Monday, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R–Va.) was questioned about his views on gay marriage. In response, Cantor cited his “traditional values,” which has become the vague, politically correct answer conservatives use to respond to this question.
Historically, the United States has had one of the highest divorce rates in the world. If politicians have a duty to defend the institution of marriage, shouldn’t they target couples filing for divorce by providing marriage counseling? Or shouldn’t they pursue policies to ensure engaged couples aren’t going to get divorced? These precautions would likely lower the divorce rate and protect marriage.
Instead, politicians focus on banning LGBTQ citizens from engaging in an inherent right with social and financial benefits. Until the 1967 Supreme Court decision in Loving v. Virginia abolished the practice, several states had racial restrictions on marriage. To many politicians of the time, interracial marriage didn’t fall under the umbrella of “traditional marriage” either.
Today, any race-based marriage constraint would be promptly dismissed as racism. The same logic should apply to same-sex marriage. Arguments like Cantor’s should be dismissed as homophobic and hostile toward millions of Americans.
Pentagon officials showed broad support for the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” which was enacted last month and allows gays to serve openly in the military. In July, New York became the most recent state to legalize same-sex marriage. The Obama administration ended its legal defense of the Defense of Marriage Act which defines marriage as a union between a man and woman. The country is on a progressive track, and the administration needs to move more swiftly in that direction.
Opponents of gay marriage and the politicians who support their arguments should be consistently challenged to define their notion of “traditional values.” Using the term as an end-all answer to their opposition is unacceptable and ignores important arguments. The Obama administration and state legislators should accept marriage as an institution between two consenting adults regardless of gender or sexual orientation.