Should same-sex couples have the right to marry?

For more than a decade the question of whether same-sex couples should have the right to marry has divided Americans, setting off a sharp debate about the purpose of marriage and the claims of equality. Supporters of same-sex marriage say that gay and lesbian couples should be treated the same as heterosexual couples as a matter of fairness. Those who oppose same-sex unions say that giving gay couples the right to marry will weaken an institution that is essential to a stable society.


Should a year of national service be required for all Americans?

Citizenship is a team sport, uniting private individuals in the public life of their country. But what does citizenship require of us? What responsibilities do we have to the team? Supporters of mandatory national service say that it is integral to citizenship, fosters a sense of mutual responsibility and creates opportunities for millions of committed young people to serve their communities. Others say that requiring it of all Americans would be coercive and undermine the spirit of volunteerism.


Should a clean and healthy environment be a constitutional right?

Environmental concerns—and legislation to address them—are nothing new. From President Theodore Roosevelt’s conservation efforts to President Barack Obama’s policies for addressing global climate change, environmental issues have been at the forefront of presidential policy. Proponents of an environmental amendment to the Constitution say it would have great symbolic value and lead to stronger environmental protection laws. Opponents say the Constitution already gives Congress the power it needs and that an amendment could divert resources from other social goods like a strong economy, quality healthcare, and a good education.


Should the United States reduce immigration?

From the time of America’s founding, immigration has been crucial to the nation’s growth, as well as a periodic source of conflict. Recent debate over immigration has polarized the nation, sparking rallies and marches, prompting congressional hearings, presidential initiatives and proposed legislation to reform what is widely considered an ineffective U.S. immigration system. Supporters of lenient immigration reform say vast numbers of undocumented immigrants are law-abiding, hardworking people who make the country stronger and more economically prosperous by paying taxes and taking undesirable, low-income jobs. Those who favor reduced immigration say that a large proportion of recent immigrants are low-skilled workers who take away jobs from U.S. citizens and overwhelm government agencies that provide education, public assistance and medical care.