Legalization of gay marriages has been a subject of furious public debate for quite some time now. This is an emotive issue with the majority of people in America enraged at the legalization of gay marriage in some states. Protests against gay marriages have been reported in many parts of the world. The debate on Legalization of abortion affirms what Grobe (2010) proposes in his theory of functional persuasion. What drives contention is long-held beliefs that have to be challenged logically.
For a majority of human beings, a union between people of the same sex is unimaginable and sinful. However, in our current age, moving into the future, it seems gays and gay unions are here to stay. This essay looks into what could be described as an appropriate societal response to the legalization of gay marriages. By adducing evidence to certain conclusions and pointing out inconsistencies in given arguments, this essay will illustrate that recognition and respect for gay members of society is better than vilifying and condemning them.
Many people are opposed to gay behavior on the ground that it is unnatural. Most people understand that marriage should be between men and women because, naturally, marriage is geared towards the fulfillment of divine law. Divine law is basically a religious tenet that posits an order instated by the creator on creation. In the mind of many religious oriented people, sexuality aims at fulfillment through procreation.
The anti-gay marriage activists argue that the institution of marriage is a very vital aspect of society. In the context of marriage, man and woman responsibly channel their sexuality in a mutually satisfying way to affirm society and guarantee procreation. Both religious and some unreligious people argue that respect and honoring the institution of marriage is important for the preservation of the human species. In the context of marriage, children are born and enjoy the care of father and mother.
Psychologists point out that fatherly and motherly care is critical to the proper development of a child. In a child’s life, there has to be a mother figure and a father figure. If two women are married to each other and adopt a child, the child is likely to miss the contribution of a father in his or her development. Men differ from women in several ways. The way they interact with issues is typically different from how women approach issues. Therefore, there is no way of compensating their presence by women acting up in a certain way.
The final reason why people are opposed to gay marriages is that it is unethical. This is a tough consideration given there is no clear way of distinguishing wrong from right. The religious distinguish right from wrong based on religious laws. Philosophically, there are many moral schools of thought. Classical moral theorists upheld that moral behavior is absolute.
Against such a notion are modern thinkers who tend to view moral conduct in a relativist way. Aristotle and his followers, i.e. neo-Aristotelians argue that morality or ethics as a concern aims at delineating what a good life is. For them, a good life is one of virtue. Virtues are universal dictates i.e., qualities of being or personhood that is acceptable among all people as true, good and worthy aspiring towards. For Aristotle, a virtue is a mean between two extremes (Popkin & Stroll, 1986, p. 53).
Another school of morality is widely known as Epicureanism. The followers of a Greek Wiseman called Epicurus held that what we seek in life is a pleasure. All pleasure is good and has to be sought by all means. However, Epicurus warned that the pursuit for pleasure should be checked such that pleasure now does not bring much pain in the future. Good pleasure should bring more pleasure in the future.
Another philosophical school of ethics developed around the works of Emanuel Kant. Kant believed that good behavior is a duty and people should behave in such a way that their behavior could be worthy universally, i.e., if all people adopted their way of behaving, it should be universally right; no negative consequences, we can say.
Stuart Mill, a close follower of Kant sought to make ethics a mathematical science of sorts. For him, pain and pleasure drive human behavior. One seeks to behave or do things in a particular way because, by so doing, a good result or pleasure is accrued. However, among the different pleasurable things that people seek, there are given courses of action that bring pleasure to more people than others. For Stuart Mill, people should choose actions that bring pleasure to the majority of people (Popkin & Stroll, 1986, p. 64).
Considering the few shades of moral thought discussed in the preceding paragraphs, what do people mean by gay marriages not being ethical? Do gay marriages contravene virtuous living? Are gay people not capable of Just acts? Do these marriages lead to worthy pleasure? Are gay marriages universally unacceptable? Do they deny pleasure to the majority in society? For gays, coming out and being united in a formal marriage is being true to oneself. Is being true to oneself a duty for all human beings; an act or disposition that should be taken to by all human beings?
People, in the world we live in are more relativist, subjectivist, and individualistic (Amato, 2007, p. 123). To a great extent, people of our age do not want to care about the collectivist or common good as long as personal interest is safeguarded.
Interestingly, it seems that the same people who want not to be interfered with and claim there is no basis for absolutist or universal claims do not entertain difference. Society does not entertain black sheep or what looks or appears different. This is the argument of the pro-gay marriage activists. They argue that society has no basis for fearing gays; save for fear of difference and knack for discriminating against anything that does not fit into the herd.
Against the claim that gay marriages are unnatural, the pro-gay marriage activists claim that marriage is a contract between two consenting adults coming together to live a family life. Being gay, it is argued, is not merely a matter of choice. Choosing a straight life would be a more appealing choice because it is acceptable and does not come with much stigma. Although inconclusive, some researchers have indicated that some people are born gay. If that is the case, then going by the creation story, God created them so.
The pro-gay marriage campaigners argue that such unions do not undermine the institution of marriage in any way. Society has evolved into one where divorces are the order of the day. Statistics show that the number of divorces that occur is just phenomenal. The gay population in the world is generally less than 5% (Ramon, 2010).
According to a BBC publication, abortions among girls aged 16 rose by 10% while abortions among girls who are under 14 rose by over 21% in England and Wales (BBC News, 2008). If this statistic is to go by, it means very many abortions are going on around us.
Statistics from the National Center for Health indicate that divorces have increased to a record high of 50%, i.e., for every ten people marrying, five ends up divorced (About Divorce.Org, 2010). Between 1976 and 1996, single-parent families increased by over 17% (Pan, 2008). According to Donaldson (2002), the number of children being put up for adoption has been steadily increasing over the years.
Further characteristics of the world population indicate that it is staring at a very high rate, and family planning has been a concern in many nations for quite some time now. There are many other factors that undermine the institution of marriage as people know it. Social, economic factors have led to a change in the conception of marriage from covenant to merely contract between equal partners (Amato, 2007, p. 140). Women are no longer a subservient lot but equal partners in a marriage.
Therefore, whether being gay is merely a learned state and not natural, this has no bearing on the institution of marriage. Rather than worry about gay people, society should worry more about increasing divorces, abortions, and social, economic factors that make traditional marriage setups untenable.
It was indicated that most gay couples tend to adopt children, and yet in such unions, the child does not get all that it needs for proper development. Against this, the pro-gay marriage activists argue that many marriages are dysfunctional and there are no longer any female or male roles. Gender roles have generally merged, and people in society are inclined towards equality between men and women (Amato, 2007, p. 204). In such a scenario, children do not learn many different things from men as they learn from women.
The final consideration is whether gay marriages are inherently wrong. Apart from religious considerations, there is no other basis for arguing that gay behavior and subsequent marriages are inherently wrong. What gay people do with themselves falls in the private domain and should not affect the public in any way. Society would only be worried if gay action meant attacks of any form on the survival or person of others in society.
Gays have been around for quite some time and there are no quantifiable effects of their presence on society. Society continues to run as usual and the straight guys can continue with their life with nobody interfering with them. Legalizing gay unions would ensure some formality and orderliness in the way these people go about their lives (Rauch, 2004, p. 87). Such formality and order are good for society.
Just like it is good for society to know that this woman and man are husband and wife and have certain rights about each other, having the same for gays would benefit society. It would help towards gays being more responsible towards each other. It would offer them a basis to protect themselves against partner infidelity. The infidelity of any sort, whether among straight or gay people, has bad consequences on society and individuals.
In conclusion, it appears that apart from religious contention based on the naturalness of gay acts, gay marriages do not affect the institution marriage in any way. As Adler (2009) advises, if we have no strong valid basis for refuting an argument, we should accept the conclusion. Therefore, considering the benefits that can accrue from legalizing gay marriages, such legality gives the institution of marriage more relevance in society. In this institution, sexuality can be responsibly explored for the good of society. Outside marriage, people are more reckless and infidelity contributes highly to the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and heartaches.
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Amato, R., P. (2007). Alone Together: How Marriage in America Is Changing. Harvard: Harvard University Press.
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Donaldson, B., E. (2002). Fact Overview. Adoption Institute. Web.
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Pan, W. (2008). Single Parent Family Statistics – The Increase in Single Parent Families. Ezine. Web.
Popkin, R., H., & Stroll, A. (1986). Philosophy Made Simple. 2nd Ed., New York: Heinemann.
Ramon, J. (2010). How Many Gay People are there?. Web.
Rauch, J. (2004). Gay Marriage: Why It Is Good For Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America. New York Henry: Holt and Co.