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One 1 Student One Jeannine Stanko English Composition 1 18 July 2013 Critique: For Gay Marriage Andrew Sullivan

[is] among the most intelligent advocates of same-sex marriage, stated once by William J. Bennett in his opposing article entitled Against Gay Marriage (272). While sifting through all of the possible bills in Congress, both conservatives and liberals can agree that same-sex marriage is probably the biggest issue when it comes to civil liberties. Andrew Sullivan makes a concise and consistent argument regarding same-sex marriage as a classic public institution [that] should be available to any two citizens, in his article For Gay Marriage (266). While many can argue that Sullivan is biased towards his debate, being that he is a liberal, they cannot say that he does not recognize all of the ongoing struggles a homosexual couple may endure. Unfortunately though, while reflecting on his article, there seems to be strong evidence that could possibly threaten the validity of his argument. In his article For Gay Marriage, Sullivan fully explains and gives a very strong background regarding this ongoing debate. He discusses in-depth how same-sex marriage is the same definition as marriage but in a more contemporary West adaptation (Sullivan 266). Sullivan gives sound evidence as to why his counterparts, the conservative, should be keen to the idea of same-sex marriage. He may push his moral beliefs on his readers; however, he makes the reader realize that a homosexual couple has just as many emotions as a heterosexual couple; this gives his audience a chance to take

One 2 on a different point of view in the subject matter. All in all, Sullivan thoroughly explains that marriage is a classic public institution [that] should be available to any two citizens (266). While the topic at hand may be a simple understanding of what marriage is, Sullivan extends it a bit further to explain: what marriage meant in the past, what marriage is in the contemporary West, and how a domestic partnership are directly related by definition (266). Looking at a raw definition, marriage is [the union of] a man and a woman (266). Considering how the world has begun to progress into the twenty first century, Sullivan acknowledges that definitions, morals, and views adapt. Realizing this, Sullivan keeps his audience up to date with an adapted definition In the contemporary West, marriage has become a way in which the state recognizes an emotional commitment by two people to each other for life (266). Simply, marriage is no longer a union, but an acknowledgement of the life-long commitment made by a heterosexual or homosexual couple. Realizing that not everyone is tolerant to the idea of same-sex marriage, Sullivan suggests the government recognize that a domestic partnership and livetogethers are similar (but offer a slightly more negative connotation) to marriage. Sullivan defines a domestic partnership [as being able] to prove financial interdependence, shared living arrangements, and a commitment to mutual caring (267). This sets the stage for the argument Sullivan has at hand because of the complexity of the standards that may arise. If this is the case, then Sullivan makes every effort to keep this notion at the forefront of his argument.

One 3 At the beginning of For Gay Marriage, Sullivan may lose several readers simply because he does not submit to the opposing argument having validity. This could possibly cause his readers to feel as if all they can choose is, you either are or youre not married (Sullivan 267). With this statement Sullivan seems to come off as overbearing and unsympathetic to the conservative argument that it would be the most radical step ever taken in the deconstruction of societys most important institution (Bennett 271). When making such an aggressive approach, it leaves the undecided reader left at a crossroads: (a) continue reading the article or (b) simply put the article aside and read a less biased one. While this mistake is not detrimental to his argument, Sullivan also makes quite a few other noticeable mistakes. Sullivan rationalizes that if nothing else were done at all, and gay marriage were legalized, 90 percent of the political work necessary to achieve gay and lesbian equality would have been achieved (269). This may possibly be an accurate number; however, Sullivan offers no indication of the other ten percent left to be accomplished. His argument begins to stall out because of this somewhat useless information. How are we, the homosexual community, supposed to know what work is left undone? Who is to say that all we desire is marriage? While this is not the only piece of misleading information, Sullivan referenced earlier in his article that: There is no evidence that shows any deleterious impact on a child brought up by two homosexual parents, and considerable evidence that such a parental structure is clearly preferable to single parents (gay or straight) or

One 4 no effective parents at all, which, alas, is the choice many children now face. (266) Once again, while this may be a true statistic, Sullivan gives no quoted evidence of this statement being valid. If this is such a huge concern and large part of this argument, then why did Sullivan exclude where or when this study was completed? His readers are left questioning if he is using deceitfully twisting a study that is left unquoted. Continuing with how much of an impact the approval of same-sex marriages will have on our society, Sullivan seems to make three (two being possibly hurtful) generalizations. It provides role models for young gay people is the first of these assumptions (Sullivan 268). While this may be true, would that not mean that we could assume heterosexual unions provide the same thing, but strictly to heterosexual couples? The clarification of this statement is hardly provided, if at all. The only additional comment that Sullivan later adds is that there would be older faces to apply to their unfolding lives (268). Seeing this as an acceptable generalization, a continued reading of the sentence infers that after the exhilaration of coming out [they] can easily lapse into short-term relationships (268). Unfortunately this may leave some, but not all, homosexuals left in discouragement: The only reason same-sex marriage is allowed is to reduce the excitement and exhilaration caused by coming out (Sullivan 268). While this too is a generalization, who is to say that it is not the principal idea behind the approval of same sex marriage? The last part of that sentence is prominently the most offensive, insecurity with no tangible goal in sight (Sullivan 268). So essentially Sullivan is suggesting if samesex marriage is not acknowledged, it will leave new homosexuals feeling a lack of self-

One 5 confidence and they will have no real goals. How exactly does this help Sullivan and his argument? While all three of these points may be completely valid, Sullivan gives his audience no evidence. The assumptions are molded by the imaginations of his readers. He hopes, based off of his earlier suggestion of you either are or youre not married, that the reader agrees with Sullivan (267). Even though I may have some personal bias on this argument, I have to disagree with Sullivan on one simple part of his article. I am a firm believer that every person who understands and agrees with each side of an argument truly has validity in their debate. My biggest disagreement with Sullivan is that he does not accept the fact that conservatives have a strong argument; he only implies that they have the best reason to be accepting of same-sex marriage. This leaves me questioning, how will his target audience react if they feel like they are under attack throughout the entire article? Overlooking this, I do agree with Sullivans stance on the subject at handmarriage is a civil right that needs to be acknowledged by the governmentit is a protection of rights (268). William J. Bennett (conservative) does make a very interesting statement: Broadening its definition to include same-sex marriages would stretch it almost beyond recognition (272). Bennetts statement opens a broad range of technicalities to discuss and Sullivan does not elaborate, leaving me feeling as if he used his bias throughout his article. After thorough examination, Sullivan does in fact have a valid argument. There are a few personal and biased views throughout his article; however, if they are overlooked, one can see that Sullivan has a complete understanding of the emotional and social struggles the homosexual community faces. While I personally felt that in the

One 6 beginning he has the potential to attack readers of a different point of view, he does bring it back together and does not refer to them as becoming bigots like Bennett suggests (273). Furthermore, his inability to show vulnerability to his counter argument puts him at a disadvantage for his overall argument that marriage is a classic public institution [and] should be available to any two citizens (266). While he makes his generalizations and uses information unfairly, we cannot argue that Sullivan gives a thorough understanding on what the debate of same-sex marriage encompasses.

One 7 Works Cited Sullivan, Andrew. For Gay Marriage. Writing and Reading Across the Curriculum. Ed. Laurence Behrens and Leonard J. Rosen. Boston: Pearson Longman, 2011. 266-269. Print. Bennett, William J. Against Gay Marriage. Writing and Reading Across the Curriculum. Ed. Laurence Behrens and Leonard J. Rosen. Boston: Pearson Longman, 2011. 271-273. Print.