Episcopalians have recently decided to approve and bless this type of marriage within the church (Dawson, 2012). In light of the recent debate over same-sex marriage, which has implications for societal values, health care, economics, public policy, business, and religion, approaching the subject requires care and specific messaging to ensure factual representation of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered (LGBT) community with limited personal bias. A biased or overly-stereotypical argument of debate or discussion point is easily nullified and serves only to discredit the messenger. According to James (2011) and Robison (2002), between 4 and 10% (14.4 – 36-million) of all Americans fall within the LGBT community. Additionally, as religion appears to be the countering force in this argument, the same care must be used for this group, also.
If I were to enter the debate, I would hope to provide a solution to the problem that would be equitable to all parties involved. If not realistic, it would, at least, be a positive addition to the debate; however, I feel that there is an equitable solution. The only was to reach this solution, though, is to maintain a factual position from which to analyze the problem. Hendrix and Hayes (2010) focuses on message construction, and though it is an important aspect of communications, public debate usually requires research more focused to attain understanding of the intricacies of the debate and the environment in which the debate is being held.
There are two aspects of marriage that need to be considered. First, marriage is largely a religious institution; therefore, the religious debate cannot be readily dismissed. The second aspect of marriage that needs consideration is legal definition of marriage and the licensing requirements of each state. Obvious to me, the federal government has no platform on which to stand as they are required to honor the states’ license of marriage. The rapid solution is to provide a state option to allow or disallow same-sex marriage. For this to occur, the states would have to change the marriage license to a license of partnership in household. The partnership in household designation would allow, for tax and legal purposes, the LGBT community as well as others, such as atheists, to enjoy the benefits of traditional marriage without encroaching on the purview of religion. This would leave each religious denomination the choice of presiding over a formal rite of wedding, which would officiate the marriage within the religion. The states and federal government should only honor the partnership in household designations or dissolutions when considering marriage for their purposes. Marriage is the only religious rite where government requires a fee, and they should not.
This solution provides historical precedent as well as satisfying the needs of the communities on each side of this debate, and it does so respectfully and without bias. Other arguments can still be made, such as the worthiness and value of society’s acceptance of same-sex marriage, but these arguments are less important than the official capacity in which each aspect of the argument (government and religion) are able to weigh in. Too many times, we as a society try to use institutions to force behavior when the chosen institution actually has little purview and impact on the behavior, such as the federal government in this case. This tactic only serves to inflame the debate and adds pressure to institutions to act.
Dawson, D. (2012, July 9). Episcopalians set to be first big U.S. church to bless gay marriage. Reuters. Retrieved from http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/07/10/us-usa-religion-gaymarriage-idUSBRE86902U20120710
James, S. D. (2011, April 8). Gay Americans make up 4 percent of population. ABC News. Retrieved from http://abcnews.go.com/Health/williams-institute-report-reveals-million-gay-bisexual-transgender/story?id=13320565#.T_1wIOFySOw
Hendrix, J. A. & Hayes, D. C. (2010). Public relations cases (8th ed.). Boston, MA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.
Robison, J. (Ed.). (2002, October 8). What percentage of the population is gay? Gallup. Retrieved from http://www.gallup.com/poll/6961/what-percentage-population-gay.aspx