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Non-Fictional Prose Course

Anne Dalke

Paper #3

When we discussed the 9/11 graphic adaptation of the 9/11 commission report, one of the most overly stated opinions, was that of the graphic adaptation not being a book one would go to for the facts surrounding such a controversial event. A lot of people in our non-fictional prose course gave the actual commission report more credibility while at the same time inadvertently (or possibly conscientiously) giving the government, or rather the government officials who contributed to the report, more credibility in terms of the degree to which their information was more factual. This was an intriguing aspect of our discussion, given that our class had already come to the conclusion that irrefutable facts were non-existent.

Seeing as how anything that claims to present any type of fact can be considered to be biased, it seemed to me that it was necessary to show ways that the government itself can be as well. I realize that it can be hard for anyone to believe that the government does not in actuality give their audience and judges true and unquestionable facts, but I think it is something we should consider, seeing as how it is clearly evident that American culture is constituted by and large by such government–a government that has proven undependable through its actions in approving laws that interfere with the first amendment rights. For this paper I wanted to explore an issue that has increasingly grown roots in society today, and that is, the issue of same-sex marriage. What I wanted to illustrate in particular was whether or not the separation of church and state is still in effect when we look at same-sex marriage under the law. I wanted to show how it is that one way that the government has proven to be biased is through its actions regarding same-sex marriage.

One of the biggest controversies over same-sex marriage, that opponents of same-sex marriage claim, is that same-sex marriage is an abomination according to the biblical meaning of marriage. Opponents of same-sex marriage argue that the bible says marriage is between man and women, as stated in the Book of Genesis through the story of the Garden of Eden thereof Adam and Eve. Now, the bible says one thing about marriage and what constitutes it, but according to our constitution (Bill of Rights), “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…” therefore, any law inherited from the bible would be unconstitutional, right?  

Wrong!  As of 1996, federal law under congressional authority “… adopted the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Pub. L. 104-199, 100 Stat. 2419 (Sept. 21, 1996), which states that the word “marriage” means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word “spouse” refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife”(Alliance Defense Fund: Defending our first liberty). The DOMA also states that “No State, territory, or possession of the United States, or Indian tribe, shall be required to give effect to any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any other State, territory, possession, or tribe respecting a relationship between persons of the same sex that is treated as a marriage under the laws of such other State, territory, possession, or tribe, or a right or claim arising from such relationship” (Alliance Defense Fund: Defending our first liberty). Both of these sections of the Federal Defense of Marriage Act, in junction ultimately prohibit same-sex marriage and limit acknowledgement same-sex marriage passed and legitimized in states that have already legalized same-sex marriage.  Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, and D.C., all have laws accepting the legal recognition of same-sex marriage.  Massachusetts, for instance, after a law “barring access to the protections, benefits, and obligations of civil marriage,  to a person who enters into an intimate, exclusive union with another of the same sex…” was found to be unconstitutional with the case of Hillary Goodrich v. Massachusetts Department of Public Health, now maintains—under Massachusetts Law—that “The same laws and procedures that govern traditional marriage also apply to same-sex marriages. There are no special procedures for a same-sex marriage” (“Massachusetts Law about Same-Sex Marriage”).However, although states themselves have some rights regarding the laws they individually pass regarding marriage, nothing trumps federal law.

The Federal Defense of Marriage Acts has been under careful consideration for repeal by Federal courts, after Massachusetts in Gill v. Office of Personnel Management initiated a battle for the Federal Courts to see the violation of human rights established by DOMA. However, there is still no clear consensus on the rights of same-sex couples regarding same-sex marriage.

The laws regarding the issue of same-sex marriage are clearly contradictory, but that is another point I do not discuss here. It is clear that our conceptions of man and women are clearly derived from societal constructions of sex. But where do societal conceptions of sex arise from? In other words, society (at American society) must have constructed an idea of what sex is from somewhere. Ideas simply do not arise from thin air. I argue that our conceptions of sex that are clearly important in the laws we pass regarding marriage derive from the story of Adam and Eve and this idea that women and men were not only created by God but created for one another in every aspect. Therefore, marriage as depicted by law is as depicted by the bible.



Works Cited:

Massachusetts Trial Courts Law Libraries. “Massachusetts Law about Same-Sex Marriage”.

DOMA Watch: Your Legal Source for Defense of Marriage Acts Information. “Federal Defense of

Marriage Act”.



Anne Dalke's picture


you've repeatedly used this class on category-making--particularly the categories of genre, and more particularly the category of non-fictional prose--as a site to continue the questions about the categories of gender and sexuality first raised for you in Interdisciplinary Perspectives last fall. This time 'round you are challenging the reliability of the U.S. government as a source of "truth" (as seen in the 9/11 Commission Report) by showing that @ least one federal act seems to derive not from (what? what should it derive from?) but rather from the Christian Bible, in direct defiance of the principle of separation of church and state.

Okay, so--bring this back now to non-fictional prose. If the government cannot be depended upon as a reliable "authority," then....?