The attitude towards same-sex marriages has never been well-defined in society. Some people are completely against them, while there are also a great number of those who support same-sex marriages. Owing to this difference in attitudes, several states in America have allowed same-sex marriages, whereas others have completely banned them. This is primarily related to the changes that the same-sex marriage involves. The matter is that the 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, there is an idea that such marriages would minimize the divorce rate and give people equal rights in expressing themselves through the lifelong relationships.
Argument for same-sex marriages
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 modern society, which is a great threat to the existence of the institution of marriage in general.
Another issue pertinent to the discussion of the same-sex marriage is that of children and, more importantly, whether or not they should be adopted by same-sex couples. 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. This, however, should not be a reason for banning the same-sex marriages because such couples do not necessarily have children. 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). Additionally, banning the 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).
In addition to this, same-sex couples deserve the respect and dignity normally present in the institution of marriage that usually conveys respect and dignity towards a couple that commits to each other (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 to 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.
Marriage and its implications for same-sex couples
According to Gertstmann (2004), marriage is a long-term voluntary agreement between two people for the sole intention of consumption or joint production where a husband and a wife both exchange their duties in reliance on the commitment they gave to each other when they got married. In marriage, the promise that is given in the 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). What is more is that 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 the same sex and the heterosexual couples that 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.
Same-sex marriages and emotional bonds
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 heterosexual couples. Recent research shows that heterosexual and homosexual relationships are quite similar in duration and nature. 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.
Same-sex marriages and children
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 same-sex marriages, a third party is needed for the conception. The legal protection and promotion of a family are 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).
Division of labor in same-sex marriages
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 heterosexual ones.
Is there indeed any sense in denying same-sex couples the right to marriage? As it has been shown, 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; besides, 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 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.
- Gertstmann, E. (2004). Same-Sex Marriage and the Constitution. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
- Hull, K. (2006). Same-Sex Marriage: The Cultural Politics of Love and Law. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
- 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 22(1): 5-18.
- Patterson, C. (2006). Children of Lesbian and Gay Parents. Current Directions in Psychological Science 15(5): 241-244.
- 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.