The Case for/against Same Sex Marriages





Ms. D. Diaz

The School for Law & Finance

John F. Kennedy High School







Charlie and Joshua met in high school and fell in love immediately.  They went to the same college.  Charlie studied architecture and Joshua became a medical student.  They were very active in their community on issues such as safety, cleaner parks for children, and equal rights and privileges for new immigrants.  After college they moved in together and soon decided they wanted to get married.  However, because they were gay, no church would marry them even though they both were practicing Catholics.  This made them even more dedicated to the idea that they, as well as gay and lesbians in general, should be allowed to marry and given the same rights and privileges other Americans enjoy.


Charlie is your brother.  You are an attorney and you want to make a name for yourself in your new law firm.  You decide to make Charlie and Joshua’s quest to get married your personal mission.  You will look at the arguments on both sides as well as previous cases (precedents) that deal with equal rights for American citizens.  You will present your arguments to a panel of experts (your classmates) to convince them either that gay marriage should become a reality in 21st-century America, or that it should remain illegal.




You will use CompuLegal to help you in your research, and after you conclude your research, you will produce a 3-5-slide PowerPoint presentation and a 3-5-minute oral presentation on your findings.




1.      Visit the following websites to help you learn about both sides of the same sex marriage issue.  Summarize each side of the issue in as much detail as possible.







2.                Use CompuLegal to find previous cases (precedents) that deal with equal rights and protection of American citizens.


a.     First, study United States v. Virginia as a possible precedent for Charlie and Joshua’s case.

i.       Read the facts of the case

ii.    Look at a visual of the case

iii. Read a summary of arguments for and arguments against

iv.  Summarize both sides of the case on the Reasoning Page (use http://www.hrcr.org/safrica/equality/US_Virginia.htm if you need more information on the case)

v.     Finally, read the Supreme Court’s decision in the case


b.    Next, choose two additional cases from the following list to strengthen your argument with precedents.


Goodridge v. Dept. of Public Health of Massachusetts

Johnson v. Santa Clara Transportation Agency

Grutter v. Bollinger

Korematsu v. United States





Your PowerPoint presentation and your oral presentation will be graded accorded to the following chart:






Oral Presentation

Information not relevant to lesson

Information relevant to lesson

Information relevant to lesson with knowledge of precendents

PowerPoint Presentation





Not Organized

Less than 3 slides

Some understanding of information


At least 3 slides





Very Organized

At least 5 slides




        New York Social Studies Standards

        5.1: The study of civics, citizenship, and government involves learning about political systems; the purposes of government and civic life; and the differing assumptions held by people across time and place regarding power, authority, governance, and law.


        The state and federal governments established by the Constitution of the United States embody basic civil values (such as justice, honesty, self-discipline, due process, EQUALITY, MAJORITY RULE WITH RESPECT FOR MINORITY RIGHTS, and respect for self, others, and property), principles, and practices.


ELA Standards

        E1.c: Read and comprehend informational materials.

        E2.a: Produce a report of information speaking, listening, and viewing.





You have now studied the issue of same sex marriages and have chosen cases that may be regarded as precedents.  You have examined arguments both for and against the federal government and the state governments recognizing same sex marriages.  You have argued the case for or against these governments affording the same protection, rights, and privileges to gays and lesbians that they do to heterosexual married couples.  And in doing so you have thought critically about one of the most controversial issues of our time.