Is anyone empowered to judge others? What is love and what forms can it take? These are the first questions that come to my mind when I think of the problem of homosexuality. It strikes me that in the modern world so rapidly developing many people remain prejudiced towards same-sex marriage. In the current paper I will consider the problem of homosexuality with the focus made on gay marriages. The research presents arguments for and against this marriage type and concludes that gay marriages should be legalized.
Marriage is a social institution that is based on the decision of two people to live together. Marriage is built on love, understanding, and people’s desire to spend lives together. The concept of marriage has changed with the advent of new political and social dimensions of modern industrialized societies. Homosexuality and lesbianism are no longer considered a psychological or mental diseases. The traditional concept of marriage has evolved into the definition of gay and lesbian marriages.
Homosexual couples seek marriage based on legal reasons like taxes and estate purposes. They also seek a legal document that creates a bond of long term commitment based on love and romance. However, gay marriages still remain a controversial subject that has sparked numerous debates throughout the United States.
Homosexuality is defined as the sexual attraction towards the member of the same sex. It refers to the feeling and state of mind where two people of the same sex try to meet their emotional, social and physical needs. Homosexual behavior has been present since the ancient Roman times. During the domination of Christianity, homosexuality was viewed as an aberrant and deviant behavior.
Recently social views regarding homosexuality have changed as researchers have found out that it has a genetic predisposition (Babst 23). Americans have also been more flexible in the acceptance of same-sex unions, even though some oppose homosexual marriages. At present-day more and more people believe that it is a gross error to think that love and romance, intimacy, and lifelong vows of commitment and partnership can never be a part of homosexuality.
The bias is proven to be wrong by a new generation of people who make their lives together as partners in life. The false conception of homosexuality in the past is based primarily on human’s aspirations to nothing more than sex, denying one’s soul, creativity, civility, and spirituality (Herdt 178).
Though throughout the world people’s attitudes towards lesbians and gay men have become less negative over the last 30 years, the majority still view homosexuality as morally unacceptable (Whitley 691). The negative attitude towards homosexuals commonly takes the form of verbal and physical aggression. Whitely states that 50% of the gay and lesbian college students reported having overheard disparaging comments, 26% experienced personal verbal insults, 26% reported having been threatened with physical assault, and 23% reported having been the victims of assault (Whitley 691).
The negative perception of homosexuality has been formed throughout the centuries. Most religions have condemned homosexuality as being a deviant and unnatural behavior that violates the laws of their scriptures. In many Islamic states, homosexuals can still face punishments from being executed to being jailed for same-sex unions. Researchers have found out that Americans believe marriage to be a holy union as homosexual marriages would be a violation of Christian and Biblical values. Homosexuality has also been removed from the lists of mental disorders, but the general public and mental health professionals still have varying views regarding the behavior.
As for other causes that make prejudice against homosexuality possible, Kite and Whitley in their research Do heterosexual women and men differ in their attitudes toward homosexuality? (1998) proposed that one important source is the cultural gender belief system. The gender belief system can be defined as “a set of beliefs and opinions about males and females and about the purported qualities of masculinity and femininity” (Deaux and Kite 97).
This set of opinions includes stereotypes about men and women, attitudes toward appropriate roles for the sexes, and perceptions of those who presumably violate the traditional pattern of gender roles, including lesbians and gay men (Whitley 691). The thing is that people’s responses to others are based on an assumption that what is not feminine is masculine and vice versa. Therefore, people always expect others to fit into those established systems of gender roles, traits, and physical attributes. Those who do not fit into the system cannot be thus regarded as normal.
However, during the 1970s, the American Psychiatric and Psychological Association removed homosexuality from the list of mental disorders (Babst 24). Same-sex partners have been battling for the right to marry. Same-sex marriage has been defined as the union of two people who are of the same biological sex or gender. Same-sex marriages are recognized in European countries like Belgium, Netherlands, Canada and Spain. Inside the United States, only the state of Massachusetts recognizes same-sex marriages while other states like Vermont and Connecticut accept only same-sex unions (Cahill 24).
Scientific research continues to find impressive evidence of the homosexual condition. The social and cultural expression of sexuality has varied over time and culture. In some societies, all men seem to have had some homosexual relationships during their lives, in others very few. The patterns of sexual behavior are culturally formed which has led to the conclusion that sexuality is a learned behavior. Even though homosexuality has become a tolerant way of life in the West, the debate on gay marriages remains controversial (Cahill 25).
There are many arguments that support the fact that gay marriages should be legalized. Marriage is a privilege which must be extended to every individual since gay marriages will not threaten traditional marriages. The United States allows the privileges of marriages for heterosexual couples therefore it is necessary that gay couples also be extended the right. The First Amendment of the United States Constitution clearly lays out the principle of freedom of religion. Denying the right to gay marriage violates the rules of the First Amendment (Cantor 45). Freedom of religion implies protection of religious thought and practice.
Religious beliefs cannot be integrated into the laws of the United States of America. No religious scriptures can influence the legislation of the United States because the separation of church and state is completely enshrined in the US Constitution. Gay marriages can also motivate people to settle down with one partner and raise families. These couples can be capable of holding long-term relationships similar to many heterosexual couples. Civil unions of gay couples do not provide sufficient legal benefits which are enjoyed for heterosexual couples.
Homosexual partnerships cannot make decisive medical decisions. One partner might not be able to visit the other on account that they are neither a spouse nor close family members or have access to medical records. The prohibition of gay marriages has led to many economic, legal and personal disadvantages for homosexuals.
Homosexuals and their spouses are denied the right to claim the estate of their spouses in the absence of any will when one of the partners dies. They are also excluded from group insurance and pension plans which are offered through their partner’s jobs (Chauncey 36). Gay marriages are not recognized by insurance companies which prevents partners from gaining insurance benefits.
One of the main arguments against gay marriage is that the primary purpose of marriage is procreation. Since gay couples cannot have children, they should not be allowed to marry. Another argument is the definition of marriage which is the union between one man and one woman. This is also the theme of major religions. Another argument present about gay marriages is that gay couples would face social discrimination and ridicule in their everyday lives. Other objections are based on the argument that marriage is a traditional institution for opposite-sex couples. Some people even argue that legalizing same-sex marriage would open the door to legalized incest, polygamy, bestial marriage and other horrible consequences (Cretney, 78).
Traditional religions like Roman Catholics and Protestants also oppose homosexuality as being immoral and sinful. Still other opponents say that the purpose of marriage is commitment and raising children. Homosexuals might not have the ability to procreate but they can adopt or have children through artificial insemination. Further children raised in two-parent households have a better chance of achieving stability.
Gay marriages can extend the good way of life for children. Gay marriage also does not destroy marriage because there are many factors that can destroy or harm the marriage. Homosexual marriages will also benefit gay couples as it would provide a legal safety net that will help couples (Depuis 71). It will also help to establish a legal and social relationship which can make it easier for people to be there for each other. Homosexual couples get married for the same reason that heterosexual couples do. Religious arguments against homosexual marriages are invalid because religious scriptures do not have any influence in shaping the laws of the United States of America.
Gay marriages should be supported because it is a violation of the rights of homosexuals. The First Amendment of the United States of America guarantees the right of freedom of religion. One of the concepts of freedom of religion is being protected from any law which is opposed to the separation of church and state. The concept of traditional marriage has changed as homosexual behavior has become more acceptable. Gay marriages must be allowed because it would provide many legal, economic and social benefits for gay couples. Gay couples cannot access the medical records of their spouses because hospitals do not recognize gay marriages.
They cannot inherit the property of their deceased partners in the absence of any will. Gay marriages could also provide a two parent household environment for children who is considered best for their stability and growth. Religious views regarding the immorality of homosexuality should not be included in the debate because they do not have any role in the passing of any laws inside the United States of America. There are millions of Christians who accept homosexuality and gay marriage despite the fact that the scriptures prohibit homosexuality. Same-sex marriages should be positively accepted by the country as gays are entitled to equal rights. They deserve the rights enjoyed by heterosexual couples.
The deprivation of their rights is a fundamental violation of the inalienable rights enjoyed by American citizens. Discrimination towards people or lifestyles cannot be continued as steps are needed for allowing gay couples the benefits of marriage, the label of being married and security of marriages provided by the US Constitution.
To conclude I should say that the decision to get married or not is one of the most crucial in people’s life. Is there any moral law that can dictate the norms according to which this decision should be taken? Not to speak of the economic, political and other consequences that the ban of gay marriages arises, this is simply immoral to deprive people of their natural right to be happy. To love means to breathe. We do not ask anyone whether we can breathe or not. Why should one ask about the possibility of gay marriage?
Babst, G. A. Liberal Constitutionalism, Marriage, and Sexual Orientation: A Contemporary Case for Dis-establishment. Peter Lang, 2002.
Cahill, S. Same-Sex Marriage in the United States: Focus on the Facts. Rowman & Littlefield, 2004.
Cantor, D. J., et al. Same-Sex Marriage: The Legal and Psychological Evolution in America. Wesleyan University Press, 2006.
Chauncey, G. Why Marriage? The History Shaping Today’s Debate Over Gay Equality. Basic Books, 2004.
Cretney, S. Same-Sex Relationships: From ‘Odious Crime’ to ‘Gay Marriage’. Oxford University Press, 2006.
Deaux, K., & Kite, M. E. “Thinking about Gender.” Analyzing Gender: A Handbook of Social Science Research. Eds. B. B. Hess & M. M. Ferree. Newbury Park, CA: Sage, 1987. 92-117.
Depuis, M. “Same-Sex Marriage, Legal Mobilization, and the Politics of Rights” Teaching Texts in Law and Politics 17 (2002).
Herdt, G. Same Sex. Different Cultures. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1997.
Kite, M. E., & Whitley, B. E., Jr. “Do heterosexual women and men differ in their attitudes toward homosexuality? A conceptual and methodological analysis.” Stigma and Sexual Orientation: Understanding Prejudice Against Lesbians, Gay Men, and Bisexuals. Ed. G. M. Herek. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 1998. 39-61.
Whitley, B. E. “Gender-Role Variables and Attitudes toward Homosexuality.” Sex Roles: A Journal of Research (2001): 691.