Same Sex Marriage as an entitlement

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For many people in the United States, the issue of same sex marriage is not exclusively a moral issue. To this group of people, same sex marriage is more an issue of entitlement, and the question they ponder is not whether or not homosexuality or even sodomy are moral acts, or lifestyles. They are asking instead, whether or not society should entitle certain groups, or special interests to the same rights and privileges as other already entitled groups, and upon what premise it should, or should not do so. Even those who do not accept the argument that homosexuality is a benign sexual behavior that poses no threat to the society overall, know that they cannot stop those who choose such a lifestyle from acting upon that choice, and so they do not preoccupy themselves with hopes of eliminating homosexuality.  They have perhaps concluded that prohibiting homosexuality is not going to make it go away, and neither will the denial of certain social entitlements. They are not preoccupied with somehow purging society of all homosexuals, an undertaking that neither the prophets Lot or Abraham involved themselves. It was God who acted ultimately to return society to what seems to be His desired pattern of sexual cohabitation. Aside from the fact that God does not seem to have given anyone of us the moral or legal authority to purge societies of homosexuals, it’s clear that this would be impossible to accomplish, considering the fact that there is no scientific proof that a biological species called “homosexual” exists. For now, we are limited to understanding homosexuality as simply a sexual preference, and choice.

Considering that we are indeed all sinners, none of us would have rights if righteousness becomes the litmus test for either privilege or entitlement in our society. A homosexual right to such entitlement as legal marriage based merely upon sexual preference, in the opinion of some observers, is where the national debate on same sex marriage should begin. Are we ready to allow people who are choosing to live in homosexual relationships the rights to pensions and benefits from spouses, inheritance as surviving spouses and the right to other entitlements previously enjoyed by heterosexuals who marry, and can in most instances procreate? Does the pursuit of happiness as mentioned in the Constitution include behaviors that are counter to the traditional moral ethic of our nation as it was understood at our founding, and can the pursuit of happiness of a minority be allowed to compromise the right to pursue of a majority, is another question that should be answered. Legalizing same sex marriage might not be permissible if such permissibility unnaturally creates a competitive group that diminishes and compromises the capability and expectations of an already entitled majority group to enjoy an inalienable right to pursue such same happiness, and to enjoy exclusively the benefits that attend such happiness once achieved.

The recent Supreme Court decision has opened a door to the future that should not be shunned due to fear or misunderstood religious principles, or laws. An opportunity has been presented for teaching, and for closer scrutiny of our courts, so we, and they, might better understand how to respond to the citizenry as a country, and not merely as special interest groups. The religious community in America is able to put forth reasonable and sound legal and moral arguments that caution against the legalization of same sex marriages in the United States without malice. The questions that we as a nation, and a society might be seeking to answer go beyond the individual, and reach into the very essence of our national identity, the interpretation of our constitution, and our understanding of the rights of traditional families, and heterosexual marriage as a social and religious institution protected by both religious and civil laws. We would be smart to employ the very basic democratic principle of majority representation, coupled with the moral republicanism of our founders as guides in the ongoing discussion, since democracy and moral republicanism are the spirit that inspired our Constitution, as well as the legal precepts intended to guide us all in our pursuits of happiness, both individually and collectively.

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The writer is the Founder and President of the National Association of Muslim American Women. The author is also head of the International Assoc. for Muslim Women and Children, an accredited NGO with the UN Division on the Rights of the Palestinians. She is a regular contributor to Media Monitors Network (MMN).

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