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The Real Threats to the Institution of Marriage

Sacred Unions not so Sacred

By R. Emilio Rivera
On March 28, 2011

When it was finally ratified, our country's Declaration of Independence promised two specific goals to every living person. It states that every person is created as equal and is ensured the natural given right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Some politicians, however, thought it logical to deny a selected few the right to live the lives they wished when the "Defense of Marriage Act" was signed into law. The "Defense of Marriage Act" (DOMA) was ratified in 1996 by then President Bill Clinton. The legislation, simply put, made any same sex marriage null and void within the federal government and gave states the right to not recognize any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of same sex marriages from other state or territories.

DOMA addressed two articles in the legislation, which defined marriage under US law. As previously stated, the first article addresses the legality of same sex marriage between states, territories and the federal government. The second article goes as far as to define what marriage is - a union between a man and woman - and that a spouse is only to be considered a person of the opposite sex.

Same sex marriage is currently a continuous topic of debate. In the past couple weeks; Attorney General Eric Holder's announced that the administration will not be defending DOMA when it comes to debate over the legislation's constitutionality. With that announcement, those who are in support of the legislation believe it is a violation of the president's duties, as it is the Executive Office's responsibility to enforce the laws of the Constitution. When in reality, the legality of the legislation is still being argued, and it is still up to the Federal Courts to decide if DOMA is constitutionally acceptable.

Supporters of DOMA argue that the idea of same sex marriages is a threat to the institution of marriage, traditional family values, the morals of American society, and the destruction of the common nuclear family. This is an argument that is not only of a conservative view, but one that is religiously influenced in a country promised to be kept separate from any church or religious affiliation.

Is marriage truly a sacred union? How sacred is marriage, if the American divorce rate has roughly been at around 50 percent in the last few years? If same sex marriage is such a threat to the traditional family bond, how is divorce not seen in the same light? Perhaps a forum debating the moral standards of divorce should be taking precedence as opposed to one that denies a person the right to live their lives in pursuit of happiness. Divorce is by far a bigger threat, given that children of divorced parents are more likely to be victims of abuse, perform poorly academically, and more likely to find themselves in problems with the law as juveniles and later on in life.

Of the politicians who were responsible for the ratification of DOMA, the most prominent ones were all guilty of making a mockery of the "sacred union of marriage." In 1996, Newt Gingrinch was Speaker of the House, and while pushing the legislation through congress, he was simultaneously engaging in an extra marital affair with a staff member. President Bill Clinton at the time was also actively engaging in intimate rendezvous with Monica Lewinsky, which was later famously entitled Lewinsky-gate or the Lewinsky scandal. Bob Dole was Senate Majority Leader at the time, but resigned two months before the signing of DOMA; he also looked to divorce as an acceptable solution to his first marriage.

Politicians have always used certain syntax to make legislation seem more appealing, and the "Defense of Marriage Act" is no different. The legislations title alone is one that is misleading. It's presented as if the institution of marriage is going to somehow benefit from it. Yet not once does the legislation address anything to aid in the sustaining of marriage or something to detour it from divorce. For example, policies of the sorthave been introduced in Florida and Minnesota. Both states have installed policies that provide incentives to marrying, to attend marriage counseling before getting married and also in the cases that a marriage is leading to divorce. Is it unthinkable to expect that a state, let along the country, expect someone to honor their vows of marriage by enacting any kind of regulations someone must follow when getting married? That would be an intrusion on someone's liberty to decide when they are ready to be married. Yet if any policies making some kind of mandatory legislation prior to marriage or divorce are introduced, the right of a person to do as they wish will be infringed - much like the infringement of the rights of those individuals who wish to marry but can't because they are of the same sex.

In opposition of same sex marriage, there is also the argument that marriage is a union only between a man and a woman. Is it only possible for a man and a woman to be successful in a marriage? Will it be impossible for same sex couples to successfully sustain a marriage? Any marriage requires a certain amount of dedication in order for it to be successful. A marriage requires that two people be committed to the other while being truthful, honest and dependable to their spouse, something that many politicians have trouble in doing themselves. If a couple is of the same sex, will it impede them from having that same devotion as a couple of opposite sexes? It's likely that they might have a better chance than most politicians.

How can politicians promote the sanctity of marriage when they themselves have no respect for it? We have seen what those politicians responsible for DOMA have done in their own marriage, but the many more are responsible of even more. Many have also engaged in solicitation of prostitution, soliciting sexual acts towards a minor, lewd conduct in public restrooms, and so on.

To make it easier those who support DOMA obviously have no respect for the institution marriage. The only thing they hope to accomplish is to deny people the right to live the way in which they wish to do so, simply because they do not agree with it. Dare it be said that those who have trouble with and oppose same sex marriage, simply said, have no respect or acceptance to those of the LGBT community.

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