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The Passing of a Bill


(Left to Right) NY Governor Andrew Cuomo passes the Same Sex Marriage bill (photo from NY Times), Gay couples celebrate passing of the bill (photo from csmonitor.com)

On June 24, the New York Senate passed the controversial Same Sex Marriage Bill in a vote of 33:29. In the streets of New York there was rejoicing among the Gay community, overjoyed that they will be able to form a relationship with their partners under the term ‘marriage.’ New York is currently the largest state to allow Same Sex Marriage, along with the state of Connecticut, Washington DC, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, and the Coquille Native American Reservation. When I was in the crowd waiting for the passing of the bill, I heard many voices of excitement. When the bill passed, that excitement exploded.


Opinions?

I went to see how many New Yorkers actually supported the bill. I went to New York City to hear the opinion of the citizens, as well as Jersey City in New Jersey to hear the opinions of a state that allow unions but not marriage. Because I wanted objective answers, I decided to take into account the opinions of only heterosexual individuals as homosexuals would no doubt support the bill. I also divided the opinions among age group, with 16-25, 26-35, 36-45, 46-55, 56-65, and over 65. I decided to interview 20 people per age group. I also asked their religion, as certain religions condemn homosexuality as a sin (Catholic & Evangelical Christianity, Islam, Judaism, etc).

From the City that never sleeps




           *Age group 26-35 had similar results with a difference of 1 person: refer to age group 16-25*

As a cosmopolitan city, New York City had enormous support among most of the age groups. The age groups 16-25 and 26-35 had the most support for Same Sex Marriage, with the support percentage of 95% (19 people) and 90% (18 people) respectively. However, when I asked their religion, 10 of the 95% and 15 of the 90% told me that they were not atheists and that they belonged to a religion where homosexuality is condemned. When I asked them why they were supporting same sex marriage despite their religion, many of them replied that everyone had certain rights. “I guess it’s my liberal and tolerant education,” explained a 17 year old student, “and I realized that everyone should have the right to express one’s own opinion.” “Just as I believe in my faith,” said a 26 year old Christian, “some people should be able to believe in their definition of marriage.”

However, among the older age groups, there was less support. Out of the age groups 36-45, 46-55, 56-65, and over 65, only 55%, 40%, 35%, and 10% of the people respectively supported same sex marriage. I found that among the people who favored same sex marriage in this age group, the majority of them were atheists. Those who disagreed with same sex marriage all belonged to a religion that condemns homosexuality. “This nation was built on Christianity,” said a 67 year old man whom I interviewed, “and many of us want to keep it that way.”

Unions and Marriage


 When I went to interview the opinions of people in New Jersey about the recent bill in New York, there was another battle for same sex marriage. I discovered that, for some, it wasn’t simply about homosexuals coming to a union but also about the very definition of marriage. Marriage, to conservative Americans, refers to the union between a man and a woman. Some members of the gay community argue that they also want their unions to be counted as marriage, instead of a ‘union.’                  When I interviewed several citizens of Jersey City, I found that the majority (regardless of age group) felt that unions between gay couples should be allowed but not marriage in the traditional sense. “I think it should be enough for gay couples to be together legally,” said a 23 year old Zach Middleton, “I mean, in some states even that’s not legal.” Some members of the gay community were content with the situation in New Jersey, where unions but not marriage is allowed. “I feel okay with the way things are now,” said a gay man who didn’t wish to be named. “I feel happy, because now I’m able to be with my partner without breaking the law. For me, definitions don’t matter.” 

Values

                  For some members of the gay community, however, simple unions are not enough. “It’s simply not just about unions,” explained Jane who was currently in a ‘union’ with her partner. “It’s about my civil rights. I have a right to be ‘married’, and the term ‘union’ makes it feel alien and unnatural for us.” “There are still many states where gay marriage is banned and even unions aren’t allowed,” she explained, “and I want to make sure that homosexuals in the US and in the world can be happy without breaking the law.” For Jane, the fight is not over.   


 

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