Okay, this is a paper I had to do for school, and I just thought I would post it and see what other people thought of it. I know this is a controversial subject, but it's something I feel strongly about. There are quotes used in here, and this is a research paper, so all quotes and any information that I did not think up myself is all cited. If you wish to know exactly where i got some of my information, e-mail me and I will tell you. And now, without further ado, here is my Gay Right paper.

"I can't conceive the hidden life anymore, don't think of it as life. When you finally come out, there's a pain that stops and you know it will never hurt like that again," said gay memoirist, Paul Monette. Though the pain of living a life of secrecy may be over, a whole new pain begins when the world finds out that you are not just like them. You are gay. There are so many ubiquitous ways which society is working against gays; anti-gay laws, sodomy laws, marriage acts, and restriction on who can and who cannot adopt are just a few. Even with all of this, resilient gay rights activists continue to fight for their rights.

The recorded percentage of homosexuals and same-sex couples has been rising in the last few years, not because there are more homosexuals, but because they are not making their voices heard. According to census figures from 2000, same-sex households make up just over one-half of 1% of the 105.5 million U.S. homes, that is about 594,391 households headed by a couple of the same sex. Because the census did not count single homosexual people, and those who may be estranged from their partners, there are more homosexuals out there who are not being counted (Toosi). Even with all of these people letting themselves be known as gay, there are still laws denying them civil and constitutional rights.

"What are you doing in my bedroom?" Michael Hardwick said to the unscrupulous police officers who were about to arrest him for having sex with another man in the privacy of his own home. Michael Hardwick was arrested for violating a sodomy law. This is one more way that gays and lesbians suffer discrimination. Though Hardwick was not prosecuted, he did sue the state, and unfortunately, he lost. Justice Byron White wrote for the courts in Hardwick's case, "The issue presented is whether the federal constitution confers a fundamental right upon homosexuals to engage in sodomy... [Hardwick] would have us announce...a fundamental right to engage in homosexual sodomy. This we are quite unwilling to do," (Andryszewski). It is unfair to restrict a person's happiness and therefore, their sexual life. Still, many people, and many governments, agree with these inane laws. As of 1999, 18 states had sodomy laws in effect. Many times, these laws are used to justify discrimination of gays and lesbians in custody and employment disputes. Sodomy laws are an unwarranted and unneeded restriction of personal liberty and an illicit state invasion of privacy (Andryszewski).

On April 26, 2000, Vermont made a huge leap forward in the gay rights movement. Vermont Governor Howard Dean signed a bill allowing same- sex unions in his state. Vermont is currently the only state that recognizes same-sex unions legally. This means that gay and lesbian couples in Vermont will be married in the eyes of the state and will enjoy all of the benefits of any other married couple, but only while in Vermont (Murphy). Any unions carried out in Vermont will be void anywhere else (Marriage). Though this is a start, it is not good enough. Many people, some who are zealots with strong religious views, believe that heterosexual marriage with children is the only kind of marriage that should be allowed. Almost all U.S. governments agree. In 1996, former President Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act. This Act forbade federal recognition and federal tax pension benefits for same-sex marriage partners, and gave states the right to refuse to recognize any same-sex marriages that may be performed in other states. Many states have adopted similar forms of the Act, which is why only in Vermont will same-sex marriages recognized.

This banning of same-sex marriages is found to be quite unconstitutional by many people. Everyone should have access to the benefits of marriage, such as spousal health insurance benefits, shared pension rights, tax advantages, inheritance rights, joint property ownership, and family rates on everything from swimming pool prices to insurance rates. Because of the fact that in 49 out of 50 states same-sex couples are not legally recognized, they have to painstakingly piece together even the most mundane of protections and sharing arrangements that come automatically to those legally married; it is hard for them to find any solace. Marriage is a civil and human right that should be bestowed upon all those who want it (Andryszewski).

Having and raising children is one more right that gays and lesbians have to work extremely hard to obtain. On the same road as marriage, people scoff at the idea that a home with same-sex parents is a stable environment for a child. As it often happens, gays and lesbians have had children in heterosexual marriages before acknowledging their homosexuality. Many of these children are then raised in part or entirely by one parent and his or her same-sex partner. Often though, custody battles are long and difficult. In states where sodomy is illegal, homosexuals have been treated as predisposed criminals and therefore mad to look like unfit parents for their children. Occasionally everyone wins. Other times a child is taken away from two loving parents only to loose all contact with the gay parent. Sometimes, when there is not a previous child, the couple will use artificial insemination, or they can try to adopt (Andryszewski). There are quite strict laws concerning homosexual adoption, though. Anti-gay activists say that living in a household with same-sex parents is bad for child welfare. When asked, "Do you know of any child welfare reasons at all excluding gay people from adopting children?", Florida's leading official overseeing adoption policies, Carol Hutchison, gave the terse answer of "No." Not allowing gay people to adopt is making children wait even longer for a good loving home. This loving home could readily be provided were gay people allowed to adopt (Gay and Lesbian Rights: Parents and Children).

Gays and lesbians deserve all the same rights and protection as anyone else. They should not be discriminated for something that is beyond their control. All people have the right to a happy, healthy, and safe life. Said Sgt. Leonard Matlovich, "When I was in the military, they gave me a medal for killing two men, and a discharge for loving one." This should not have had to have been said, and it shouldn't ever again.

I would love it if you would review and tell me what you thought. Thanks for taking the time to read my work!!

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