1. Virginia's Marriage Ban
Although Virginia does not prohibit same-sex sexual activity within the state, it does not currently allow same-sex couples to marry or form a civil union. At the end of 2006, Virginia voters passed an amendment to the state constitution that restricted marriages to heterosexual couples. Because of this law, marriages between partners of the same sex will not be performed or recognized within the state.
Public opinion on same-sex marriage in Virginia is somewhat divided. According to a poll conducted by the Washington Post in 2011, 47 percent of Virginians are in favor of legalizing same-sex marriages, while 43 percent are opposed. The remaining 10 percent of people polled had no opinion on the issue. In December 2011, a Public Policy Polling survey determined that 59 percent of voters in Virginia support the legal recognition of same-sex couples, regardless of whether they are allowed to marry.
The controversy over gay marriages has been raging for many years in both public and political circles. The public viewpoints that American presidents such as Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama have taken on this subject have greatly influenced federal and state laws on the same. In 1996, Bill Clinton took an anti-gay stance by signing the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which officially defined marriage on a national level as a union between a man and woman. President George W. Bush, though proclaiming non-opposition to gay marriage, supported Clinton’s stance through his Federal Marriage Amendment. As a result of these two bills, the United States government today does not officially recognize the union of same-sex marriages.
In contrast, President Obama announced in July 2011 that he would support a bill to repeal the DOMA on the grounds that it violated aspects of the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution. Hence, the controversy continues. Meanwhile, eight states plus the District of Colombia have taken matters into their own hands by choosing to legalize gay marriages on a state level. Thirty states retain constitutional amendments which ban gay marriages on a state level.
The Catholic Church maintains a strong opposition to gay marriage. Pope Benedict XVI leads this highly influential religious body in stating that marriage should only occur between a man and a woman and that sex should only occur within marriage.
Catholic doctrine holds that the complementary union of male and female in marriage intrinsically reflects the nature of God in a way that homosexual marriage cannot. It also holds that one of the primary purposes of marriage is to build the family unit through procreation. The Church opposes homosexual relationships, abortion and contraception because they inhibit this purpose.
While the official stance has been unyielding, popular support for gay marriage has been growing among Catholics. A “Washington Post”/ABC News poll found that 63 percent of American Catholics support the idea of legalizing gay marriage. One key area to watch is how American bishops will navigate the growing tension between popular opinion and the Church's official stance.
The Vatican (2012)
“The Washington Post” (2011)
When Nebraska introduced an amendment that banned gay marriage, supporters of gay marriage fought to have the amendment revoked.
The amendment bans legal recognition of same sex relationships including domestic partnerships, and struck out the other basic protections that groups had managed to win for gay couples.
One group who lost an appeal of the move against gay marriage may still take the appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, but others argue that doing so, and making a federal issue out of Nebraska 's ban, could harm the appeals that are being mounted against laws in other states.
One argument brought up by those against gay marriage is that children are at risk of being sexually molested by their gay male parents, due to the men's attraction to males.
This argument comes from a lack of understanding of sexual psychology. Sexual orientation is defined as an adult attraction to other adults. Paedophilia, however, is a form of sexual perversion, separate from that person's sexual orientation. There is no legitimate scientific research connecting homosexuality and paedophilia.
A study of child sex abuse showed that in cases involving molestation of a boy by a man, 74 percent of the men studied were or had been in a relationship with the boy's mother or another close female relative.
Researchers say that "a child's risk of being molested by his or her relative's heterosexual partner is over one hundred times greater than by someone who might be identifiable as being homosexual."
While gay parenting has been the focal point of some bashing, specifically from the Catholic Church and former presidential candidate Rick Santorum. However, some studies have now revealed that gay parents may actually be better than some heterosexual parents. Here is the reasoning behind that thought:
According to a psychologist at Clark University, Abbie Goldberg, gay parents can be more committed to the child since they made the mental assessment to go and get a child. It was not an accidental pregnancy, but one well-thought out.
A 2011 Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute report showed that gay and lesbian couples who adopt also tend to adopt those children who are considered harder to place. They have a high percentage of adoptions for older children, special needs children and children of different races.
So while there may always be some form of discrimination on gay adoption, for the children it seems like a winning solution. They're wanted, cared for and not stuck in foster homes until their age of emancipation.