The argument of whether or not gay and lesbian couples have the right to marry is an ongoing, tumultuous tug-of-war between two very stubborn points of view. In the Supreme Court case Skinner vs. Oklahoma, it was ruled that marriage is "one of the basic civil rights"." Same-sex couples who are legally married should receive the same legal benefits as heterosexual married couples. In 2001, seven same-sex couples in Massachusetts sued for equal marriage rights (Same-Sex Marriage). In 2003, the state supreme court ruled that equality in marriage for same-sex couples was mandatory (Same-Sex Marriage). Three months later the courts more specifically said that civil unions did not qualify as equal rights and on May 17, 2004 Massachusetts became the first state to distribute marriage licenses to same sex couples (Same-Sex Marriage). .
The gay rights movement has often been compared to the civil rights movement. Opponents of gay marriage argue that these two movements should not be compared because people can't choose their skin color; but many argue that people don't choose their sexual orientation either. Molecular biologist Warren C. Lathe did a study about how sexual orientation is determined. The study suggests that a person's sexual orientation is biologically and genetically determined and is in place when they are born (Lathe). .
Some states have put a civil union law into effect which gives same-sex couples some of the benefits of marriage, like the right to make medical decisions and the ability to make joint tax returns, however if the couple crosses state boundaries their benefits don't hold up. This is permissible because of The Defense of Marriage Act. The Defense of Marriage Act was signed into law in 1996. It gave states the right to refuse to recognize a marriage license given by another state (Same-Sex Marriage). It also gives marriage the definition of "only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife"" (Same-Sex Marriage).