Same Sex Marriage Question Analysis

Subject: Family, Life & Experiences
Pages: 8
Words: 2197
Reading time:
8 min
Study level: College

The attitude towards same sex marriages has never been well defined in the society. There are people who are completely against them, while there are also a great number of those who support same-sex marriages. Such difference in attitudes led to that several states in the US allowed same sex marriages, whereas others completely banned them. The latter is mainly related to the changes that same sex marriage implies. The main issue is that same sex marriages change the traditional natural setting of the family, stipulating that a family should consist of a man, a woman, and their children, rather than of two men or two women. Consequently, there are different opinions regarding the legalization of the same sex marriages. While there are those who believe that legalization of the same sex marriage can bring no benefit to the society, this paper argues that such marriages can be perceived positively, entitling gays to the same type of moral commitment and responsibilities given to married couples, contributing to the protection of people’s equal rights in expressing themselves through lifelong relationships.

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The legalization of same sex marriages can be seen beneficial to the restoration of the value of the institution of marriage. If two people love each other, they should have the same rights, privileges, and responsibilities, irrespective of their gender and sexual orientation. In the modern society, there are many cases of couples getting divorced and the rate of divorces is quite high in the majority of the world countries. Additionally, the issue of unfaithfulness or infidelity in marriage is quite epidemic in the modern society, which is of a great threat to the existence of the institution of marriage in general. In such case, the restoration of the value of marriage can be seen through the inclusion of same sex marriages as an essential part of it. On the one hand, marriage entry rates are in decline through the last half a century, with “48 percent of American marriages, at current rates, would be expected to end in divorce within twenty years” (Cherlin, 2005). On the other hand, the value of marriage is on the rise, with gays and lesbians giving marriage the same value as anyone else. Thus, it can be assumed that legalizing same sex marriages will lead to a decrease in the proportion between divorce and marriage. It can be stated that the emphasis put on the image of traditional family in the society does not correspond to the ten times increase of unmarried couples living together between 1969 and 1990 (Andryszewski, 2008). In that sense, with the institution of marriage being extended to include same sex couples, might restore the value of such institution in the society.

The legalization of same sex marriage as an official commitment should serve as an indicator of maturity and responsibility. The argument for the legalization of same sex marriages, in terms of legal protections and rights, is not the most important in such case. The enactment of civil unions, legally recognized and providing the legal benefits of marriage, except for the status, was rejected (Cherlin, 2005). Such fact implies that there is an emphasis on commitment and responsibility that is recognized in the society, instead of a legalizing another form of cohabitation. With such civil unions perceived as “second-class citizenship”, the legalization of same sex marriages will provide gays and lesbians with the right to have a commitment, which symbolic status is equal to those of heterosexuals.

The issue of children is another important factor in discussions on same sex marriages, namely the question whether or not they should be adopted by the same sex couples. A great number of same sex couples already have children, but for those who do not it is rather problematic to adopt a child. Such couples cannot have children due to the biological sameness of the partners this is why the best way out for them is adoption or artificial insemination. The only difference here between the heterosexual and the same sex couples is that, in the same sex marriages, a third party is needed for the conception. The legal protection and promotion of a family is usually based on the declaration that children are preset (Patterson, 2006). Legalizing same sex marriages makes sense at least for the sake of children, especially taking into account the fact that many traditional couples do not want to have children, while there are a great number of gay couples that do. Therefore, such stipulations should be extended to the gay couples given that they promote investments and self-sacrifice in children (Patterson, 2006).

There is an opinion that children should be raised only by traditional couples because the same sex ones are unable to give them proper upbringing. For instance, some people keep to the idea that, since homosexuality is ‘immoral’, the children brought up in such an environment can be affected by the ‘immoral’ behavior.

It should be stated that such argument, in addition to being unsupported, indicates the way double standards exist in the society. The latter implies two different attitudes toward similar phenomena. The support of the double standards existent in the society can be seen in the fact that criminals, including those whose crimes are directly connected to child abuse such as pedophiles, are not prohibited from having children, in the fear that such “behavior” will be transmitted to the child. The same can be said about any other negative characteristic, which are connected to parents, regardless of sexual orientation, i.e. racism, abusive behavior, alcoholism, drug addiction, etc. In such perspective, it can be stated that questioning the legality of same sex couple raising children, based on the gender and sexual orientation factor alone can be seen largely biased.

Besides, there is sufficient evidence that the same sex couples are able to bring up their children in the right manner, just as the heterosexual couples do (Gertstmann, 2004). First, it should be noted that heterosexual couples do not need to provide evidences that they will bring up their children in a right manner, in order to be allowed to raise a child. Heterosexual couples are allowed to raise their children by default, assuming an existent potential to raise children in a good way. At the same time, same sex couples have the same potential, and as stated by Marcosson (1996), cited in (Gertstmann, 2004), “single parents, gay fathers, lesbian mothers and same-sex couples have the potential to, and often do raise children that are happy, healthy and well-adjusted” (p. 30). In that regard, it should be stated that the findings of researches on children of gay and lesbian parents consistently show that there are no differences between living with same sex or opposite sex parents, regarding such aspects as psychological well-being, self-esteem, anxiety, school outcomes, and family relationships (Patterson & Telingator, 2008). Additionally, banning same sex couples to get married may be traumatic for those of them who already have children. For example, their children might wonder that their parents (be those mother and mother or father and father) do not love each other because they would get married otherwise (Rauch, 2004).

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In addition to this, same sex couples deserve the respect and dignity normally present in the institution of marriage (Hull, 2006). Denying same sex couples the right to marry each other removes from one group an essential human right, the right to marry the person that one adores. This is why it is rather unfair and unjust to deny the same sex couples the right to marry. Moreover, gay couples are denied many other rights given to heterosexual couples. For example, they do not have the right for protection from discrimination and harassment based on their sexual orientation. Same sex couples cannot file taxes jointly and the result of this is that their taxes can be higher than the heterosexual couples have to pay. They also do not have a legal right to visit an ailing partner in a hospital in those cases when only the family members are allowed to enter the room. Thus, denying people of a certain group the right to marry may be traumatic for them because of evident discrimination that they face due to the restrictions imposed on them.

According to Gertstmann (2004), marriage should not be approached as a dictionary-defined phenomenon, in which only individuals of different gender have the right to marry (p.96). In marriage, the promise given through marriage vows is to “take each other as a wedded spouse, to hold and to have, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health,’ indicates that the persons making this vow grant to provide each other with love and care (Hull, 2006). Furthermore, the law delegates the burdens and benefits that promote marriage only to heterosexual couples and not to gay couples. Yet, there are no such differences between same sex couples and heterosexual couples, which would make it necessary to introduce changes into the public policies, because the homosexual couples are also an integral part of the society.

Likewise, the forced responsibilities and benefits from marriage are not extended to the gay couples as they are to the heterosexual couples. According to Lannutti (2005), the present laws protect the privacy of the marital relationship, allowing the partners to create mutual responsibilities and act as an economic unit. On the other hand, the law has put a certain focus on interpersonal commitments, thus, recognizing emotional attachment, parenting, and the economic relationship between the heterosexual couples. This should also be extended to the same sex couples because they are emotionally attached just like other heterosexual couples. As stated earlier, such extension should not be different from the legal status given to heterosexual couples, where the issue of the legal status being the same as with everyone else is critical in that matter. Avoiding distinct legal status will provide a ““stigma of exclusion,” denying same-sex couples “a status that is specially recognized in society and has significant social and other advantages” (Cherlin, 2005, p. 43).

According to Lannutti (2005), many lesbians and gays live with long-term partners in a lasting bond where they provide each other with support and care similar to that in the heterosexual couples. The percentage of adult gay people with partners is estimated to be the same as that of the normal couples. The great majority somewhat bears a resemblance to the heterosexual couples who live together in commitment to each other and assign the intimacy and economic sharing that is normally promoted by marriage (Rauch, 2004). Same sex couples are not any different in their showing compatibility, satisfaction, love, and closeness in their relationships. In addition to this, they plan investments together and maintain a household corporately, which makes them no less different from the heterosexual couples. This all testifies to the fact that, emotionally, homosexual couples are the same, if not stronger, than heterosexual ones, which should make them eligible to perpetuate their bond legally.

Gay marriages are characterized by the relationships with more equality, better quality of social interaction, and a higher degree of self-determination (Patterson, 2006). Gay couples normally share all the duties rather than allocate some of the duties to one another. Therefore, in terms of the division of labor or other duties within the marriage, the same sex couples are even more tolerant and equitable than some of the heterosexual ones. It should be noted that the demands for the legalization of same sex marriages might characterize the attitude of gays and lesbians toward their bonds having an official accepted status. For apparent reasons, it can be stated nor expected that the relationship within same sex couple would be the same as heterosexual couples. Nevertheless, such differences do not imply that such relationships are more negative. On the contrary, a study on the relationships between homosexual couples outlined that heterosexual relationships might have a great deal to learn from homosexual couples in terms of relationships. The study assumes that the perceptions of the relationships between homosexual couples being more positive or negative might be based on such facts as the way equality is more valued by homosexuals. Although, such assumptions are based on relationships, rather than marriages, they might be applicable as well.

Is there indeed any sense in denying the same sex couples in the right for marriage? Such couples are practically the same as the heterosexual ones with the only exception of needing a third party to have children. Same sex marriages can make the institution of marriage stronger, especially taking into account how many heterosexual couples get divorced these days; such couples have strong emotional bonds and are longing for legal marriage no less strongly than the traditional couples. They are also capable of raising a child in a loving and caring atmosphere, which not all of the heterosexual families are able to do. Therefore, legalizing the same sex marriages is the first step in creating a society with a stable institution of marriage and family, because same sex marriages can reduce the number of divorces, adopt children who need homes and families, and ensure that all the people in the society are guaranteed equal rights irrespective of their sexual orientation.

References

  1. Andryszewski, T. (2008). Same-sex marriage : moral wrong or civil right? Minneapolis: Twenty-First Century Books.
  2. Cherlin, A. J. (2005). American Marriage in the Early Twenty-First Century Future of Children, (2).
  3. Gertstmann, E. (2004). Same-sex marriage and the constitution. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
  4. Hull, K. (2006). Same-sex marriage: the cultural politics of love and law. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
  5. Lannutti, P. (2005). For better or worse: Exploring the meanings of same sex marriage within the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community. Journal of Social and Personal relationships. Newbury Park, CA: SAGE
  6. Patterson, C. (2006). Children of lesbian and gay parents. Current directions in psychological science. Newbury Park, CA: SAGE
  7. Patterson, C., & Telingator, C. J. (2008). Children and Adolescents of Lesbian and Gay Parents. Journal of American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 47(12), 1364-1368.
  8. Rauch, J. (2004). Gay marriage: why it is good for gays, good for straights, and good for Americans. New York, NY: Times Books/ Henry Holt and Co.
  9. Hemingway, M. (2010). Same Sex, Different Marriage. Christianity Today, 54(5), 52. Retrieved from Academic Search Premier Database.