The wedding bells are singing throughout the cool, crisp winter air. Hundreds of happy people have come to watch the joyous event, waiting in tear-stained anticipation. The happy groom stands nervously down at the end of the aisle, looking anxiously at the large, double doors that his beloved will soon come from. The organ starts, and his eyes light up, finally able to meet the eyes of his lover as he enters the room. Disturbed? Shocked? There's no need to be. Homosexual love is as real as any other love there is, and committed couples should be allowed the right to marry in any state, and in conjunction with that, should be given the same state and federal benefits heterosexual couples have.

Life can be tough if one is living alone. One has to pay higher taxes, makes less money, and if one has children, one can find it hard to support them. The typical, American solution for this has been to get married. The some 1,049 benefits that married couples receive can sometimes really make a difference in the way people live. Denying homosexuals the right of tax breaks and comfortable living is unfair, but some of the rights are even more important than the money. Without any sort of marriage rights, homosexuals could be prevented from being each other's power of attorney, access to spousal life insurance, and could even be denied entry to visiting their loved one in the hospital. While federal recognition of homosexual marriage is certainly a long way off, states could at least recognize the actions done by other states in giving homosexuals some of these benefits. For example – as of now, Vermont is the only state in the country that allows for homosexual marriage in the form of a "civil union" – that is, all the benefits of being married without actually getting married in the traditional sense. However, if an out of state couple comes to Vermont to marry, none of the benefits that they now have a right to can be transferred to their home state. If a heterosexual couple got married in Vermont, would it be fair if they were unable to have any of the rights bestowed upon them carried throughout the country? One would think not.

Another argument against homosexual marriage is that homosexual love is not "real" love. How can a government decide what love is? It's been said before – love is not something one can describe. It's just there. If a man and a man or a woman and a woman fall in love with one another, what kind of fair, democratic government could say they are wrong? Imagine being in love with someone, and being ridiculed, harassed, and hazed for being in love with the said person. One can imagine that being made to think that your love is wrong would be quite a sad thing. However, people against homosexual marriage seem to think this is a perfectly logical conclusion as a reason for keeping marriage heterosexual. It isn't, and never will be – true love knows no bounds. Allowing homosexuals to marry would give the same sort of recognition of love that is available to heterosexuals. Marriage as an institution has changed its definition of love over the years several times, anyway. Love between a man and a woman of a different race was prohibited until the 1960's in the United States, and polygamous relationships still go on in parts of the world today. If these different people are allowed to marry, then the same right should be extended to cover homosexuals.

Another point that has been made by the conservatives is that homosexuals are unable to raise children properly, as they are not growing up in a normal family environment. Normal? Twenty-five percent of the children in America right now are living under impoverished, single mothers on welfare, and who also had their children out of wedlock. Married couples with children only make up one percent more of the population than single mothers with children do. Also, half of all marriages end in divorce. Take that into consideration - if half of the twenty-six percent of couples with children divorce, then by today's standards, "normal" is living with one parent in subsidized housing and on welfare. The bygone days of stay-at-home mothers with fathers who worked from nine to five are over. Normal has changed. The government has no problem helping a 14-year-old single mother take care of her unwanted child, so why should anyone have a problem with two loving, protective people raising a family? The statement, also, that children raised in homosexual households are more likely to become homosexual themselves is absolutely ludicrous. After several studies, it has been shown that kids raised in a homosexual environment have no greater chance of becoming homosexual than children raised by heterosexual parents – and, in many cases, the children of two homosexuals are more adjusted than children of so-called "normal" households.

In conclusion, the Declaration of Independence clearly states that people have a right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness". If the government will not allow homosexuals to marry, then they are denying them a basic human right…something we all strive for and desire.

To be happy.