Gay Marriage: A privilege or a right?

Essay by schityalaUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, October 2004

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The question of whether gays should be allowed to marry in society is one that has been on the United States' agenda recently. There are those who say that marriage is a right that should be given to all, and that denying gays this right is a form of oppression. To decide whether or not gays are in fact being oppressed, and if they should be allowed to marry, I will analyze the works of Edmund Burke, Jeremy Bentham, and Karl Marx.

In his Reflections on the Revolution in France, Edmund Burke speaks of the reason for having society. He says, "If civil society be made for the advantage of man, all the advantages for which it has made become his right" (13). What he means is that the point of government is to provide for the benefit of the people, and it accomplishes this outside of man's natural rights: "Government is not made in virtue of natural rights, which may and do exist in total independence of it..."

(13). He defines government as a "contrivance of human wisdom to provide for human wants" (14), and those who want to reap the benefits must allow a "sufficient restraint on their passions" (14) for society to function properly. In this way we say that Burke's view of society is one in which the people are happy and cared for. Concerning the rights of those in society, he gives this broad definition: "Whatever each man can separately do, without trespassing upon others, he has a right to do for himself; and he has a right to a fair portion of all which society, with all its combinations of skill and force, can do in his favor" (13). Based on this, since gay marriages are simultaneously in people's favor and not...