Academic journal article Journal of Health and Human Services Administration

Framing the Same Sex Marriage Decisions: The Context and the Possibilities

Academic journal article Journal of Health and Human Services Administration

Framing the Same Sex Marriage Decisions: The Context and the Possibilities

Article excerpt

A SHORT HISTORY OF SAME SEX MARRIAGES

It was interesting to hear Justice Samuel Alito of the U.S. Supreme Court (during the recent court discussion of same-sex marriages) state that same-sex marriage first came about in the year 2000, so that it was more recent than the internet and cell phones and as a result its effects could not be assessed quite yet. Same-sex marriages have been documented as having occurred since 867 A.D.

John Boswell's books "The Marriage of Likeness: Same-Sex Unions in Pre-Modern Europe" (1996) and "Christianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexuality." (1980) are several of the sources on the subject. This author actually attended John Boswell's lecture on same-sex marriage at Yale University, and knows how meticulously these same sex marriage ceremonies have been documented. After the 1500's, our western culture forced same-sex relationships underground, putting them into "the closet", according to John Boswell's book "Christianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexuality..."

These same sex relationships were not limited to Europe. According to "Gay Facts", "Prussian military genius Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben arrives at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, in the company of a handsome...(male)... secretary. Fearing prosecution for alleged indiscretions .back in Prussia, Steuben has signed on to train George Washington's ragtag Continental Army. Most historians consider his success at this task a major factor in the American victory." (No date)

The difference is that since the Stonewall Revolution (June 28, 1969), people have begun to expect more than simply hiding their relationships from the state. In my own case, I was in a 24 year domestic partnership relationship beginning in 1983 with my former partner Lyle Rossman, long before the year 2000 when Justice Alito felt that same-sex marriages had begun. At first, L.G.B.T. people (like my ex-partner and I) were satisfied by domestic partnerships and civil unions. Typically, domestic partnership arrangements would allow a couple to get a discount on their gym memberships; or have a civil register that allowed them to be known as partners in case one of them were admitted to the hospital. Civil unions provided a bit more latitude, ranging from several rights to hundreds of rights; but they are definitely not the same as marriage. But then the LGBTQIA community realized that to be equal, they should have the opportunity to marry.

Typically at first, domestic partnership arrangements would allow a couple to get a discount on their gym memberships; or have a civil register that allowed them to be known as partners in case one of them was admitted to the hospital. Civil unions provided a bit more latitude, ranging from several rights to hundreds of rights; but they are definitely not the same as marriage. Why so? Because in 2004, the General Accountability Office identified 1138 Federal rights that heterosexuals in a marriage have compared to a gay or lesbian person in a relationship.

1,138 FEDERAL RIGHTS

"Keep getting the feeling that you are missing something?" http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d04353r.pdf

* "The list includes thirteen categories of rights and benefits, including:

* Social Security and Related Programs, Housing, and Food Stamps

* Veterans' Benefits

* Taxation

* Federal Civilian and Military Service Benefits

* Employment Benefits and Related Laws

* Immigration, Naturalization, and Aliens

* Trade, Commerce, and Intellectual Property

* Financial Disclosure and Conflict of Interest" (1996-2011)

It was intellectually challenging to have Justice Antonin Scalia ask (during the U.S. Supreme Court oral arguments) "When did this (homosexuality) become a human right?" He of course is an "Originalist" who believes if something is not in the Constitution, it is not constitutional. Presumably we would then need to designate those who were not male Caucasian aristocrats, merchants, or farmers as not having any human rights at all. …

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