Friday, 2 March 2012

Gay Marriage Within America

This is a speech made by student Jacob Kraybill of Goshen College, a Christian based institution situated in Indiana. Kraybill makes a very passionate argument toward the legalisation of same sex marriage within America, whilst using the oppressions that he himself faces as a homosexual to strengthen his argument. In general, Kraybill argues that the legalisation of gay marriage should be a concern for all citizens, not just within Indiana, but within the USA as a whole. He states, "I believe the legislation of gay marriage should be a concern for all people in our society...The discrimination that gay couples are subject to everyday is completely unethical and morally wrong. As intelligent compassionate Christians, who care about the marginalised around us, we should recognise this as a social justice issue."

Kraybill uses the example of the gay couple Bill Flanigan and Robert Daniels to reinforce his argument. The pair were registered as domestic partners, as they were unable to legally wed in their home state of California. Regardless, Kraybill states that they did everything they could to achieve the same legal status as heterosexual couples. On a trip to Washington D.C, Robert became unwell and was rushed to hospital. When Bill asked to see Robert and talk to his doctor, Bill was refused as the hospital said that he was not 'part of Robert's family.' Kraybill notes that even with legal documentation (their registered domestic partnership) the hospital still denied him the right to see Robert. It was not until Robert's immediate family arrived, that Bill was granted access. By that time Robert was intensive care and died a few days later. The importance of this is the injustice and segregation that homosexual people suffer everyday. Kraybill also notes how in 2004, the US General Accounting Office released a report stating that there are over 1,000 individual rights and benefits which homosexual people are denied, rights that heterosexual people receive. What is paramount here is that Kraybill is not just arguing for the legislation of same sex marriage, but for equality between man, irrespective of sexual preference.

Furthermore, Kraybill also argues the misconceptions that many Americans view towards homosexuality in general. He argues that a lot of homophobia is based on a lack of knowledge and understanding about the subject. Indeed, this is could be argued to be true, particularly through the Anti-Gay legislation, the proposed 'Don't Teach Gay' bill and the view that if children do not learn about homosexuality, they will not 'become gay'. It is the prejudices that surround the subject, and the fact that people follow them, which distorts the views towards the subject. In effect, it is this which confuses people and children, and not homosexuality itself. Being gay is not a bad thing. It is the discrimination against it which creates the ideology that it is something bad and should not happen. These legislation acts could be seen to only further increase this lack of knowledge and enhance the oppressions that surround homosexuality. Not only this, Kraybill also argues how being homosexual is not a choice and uses his own personal experience to further reinforce this - "I didn't wake up one day and say to myself 'Hey, I think I'll be gay!' The reality is I'm just attracted to the same gender as myself, not because I chose it, but that's because of who I am."

In general, Kraybill's belief is that one of the key steps towards equality is the legislation of same sex marriage. He argues that this legislation would start many homosexual couples on a 'path of change' - a path that would encourage gay and lesbian people to be themselves, without feeling the need or pressure to hide their true identity. For homosexual people to be treated as equals, would allow for acceptance and equality within society. The reference of Bill and Robert's story undoubtedly portrays the significance of the inequality and prejudices that many gay couples still face today. In the words of Kraybill, homosexuality is "... not just a theoretical problem that can be shoved under the carpet. We are alive. And our rights are being denied."

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