Debate/Topics/Same-Sex Marriage/United States
Federal Marriage Amendment
Wikipedia article: Federal Marriage Amendment
The Federal Marriage Amendment is a proposed Amendment to the United States Constitution that would legislate the nature of marriage, so that it is limited to occurring between one man and one woman. The Amendment would override any state law that contradicts it, and could be changed only through the passage of another Amendment.
The Federal Marriage Amendment is generally supported more by the Republican Party. Nevertheless, there are Democrats and member of other leftist parties who also support it, as well as Republicans and other rightist parties who do not. Opposition can be inspired either by a belief that same-sex marriage should be allowed, or by a philosophy that the Amendment would needlessly overrule states rights.
Those who believe in states rights on the same-sex marriage issue do so on the principle that the populations of individual states should be allowed to organize their society and culture in whatever way fits their ideals and morals. One potentially divisive issue, however, is whether other states and communities must recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere. According to the US Constitution's Full Faith and Credit clause, marriages performed legally in one state must be recognized throughout the nation. The Defense of Marriage Act, a bill signed into law in 1996 by Democratic President Bill Clinton, explicitly grants states the right to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages. Some of the support for the Federal Marriage Amendment comes from those who believe that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional because it grants an exception to the full faith and credit clause.
Some opponents of the Federal Marriage Amendment have pointed out that the Amendment would be the only binding Amendment to limit the freedom of citizens. The 18th Amendment, which banned alcohol during Prohibition, was also passed, but has been repealed by the 21st Amendment. The 22nd and 16th Amendment could also be seen as curtailing freedoms in establishing a two-term limit for Presidents and instituting a graduated income tax, respectively.
Wikipedia article: Civil Union
The state of Vermont does not allow same-sex marriages, but does allow same-sex "civil unions". These grant most of the same rights as marriage. Opposition to civil unions occurs from both Supporters and Opponents; Supporters believe it is a form of "second-class citizenship" (that is, discrimination) and Opponents believe it is, for all intents and purposes, equivalent to marriage and is opposable on the same grounds. Those who support civil unions include Opponents who object to same-sex marriage on traditional grounds—that marriage is a heterosexual institution by definition, but that same-sex couples should be able to receive the same benefits for their own unions—and Supporters who believe that civil unions are practically identical to marriage.
Supporters: The refusal to extend marriage to homosexual couples is inherently unfairly discriminatory and a violation of the 14th Amendment, which guarantees equal treatment under the law. There are more than 1,000 laws which apply differently depending on an individual's marital status. These extend from trivial facts, such as that a gay president's lover would not be protected by the Secret Service, to complex issues concerning the release of financial and medical information, hospital visitation rights, taxes, wills, child custody, alimony, and Fifth Amendment rights.
Opponents: The 14th Amendment does not apply because a person's homosexual behavior is a choice. The government is not obliged to recognize all choices as of equal validity. (This is part of the nature vs. nurture debate.)
The United States Libertarian Party, and some persons from Democratic, Republican, other, or no parties, have an opinion different from both Supporters and non-Supporters.
Libertarians: The government has no authority to recognize any marriage. There are over 1,000 legal rights granted to heterosexual couples should not be granted. For example, the tax code should not treat married couples differently than unmarried couples. The government should not compel hospitals to allow any individual access to patients or medical records, except in accordance with that hospital's policy. Individuals can choose to cohabitate, and can declare themselves married, or perform a ceremony. It is up to individuals to choose, according to their own beliefs, whether to recognize any such marriage.