One of the topics that has caused a lot non-stop discussions and reviews are same-sex marriages in the United States. The debate on the issue of the same-sex marriage is very difficult and controversial. It has been influenced by the movements of the women’s rights, gay rights, the black civil rights, and the evolution of marriage and constitutional jurisprudence.
Public surveys have shown the increasing number of same-sex marriages and their acceptance throughout American society. It is widely believed that marriages cannot exist apart from the country or state, no matter what kind of marriages they are. There is an idea that the prohibition against same-sex marriages lies in the nature of the marriage institution.
After the legalization of same-sex marriage there had to be amendments made to the Civil Marriage Act in eight federal statutes, which included the Canada Business Corporations Act, the Divorce Act, and the Income Tax Act, to alter the definition of “spouse” in them. Nevertheless, still there is an emphasis that homosexuals, unlike other marginalized and discriminated groups, cannot rely on an extension of the legislation concerning discrimination. It is believed that those philosophical justifications for discrimination are invalid from the methodological point of view, moreover civil rights legislation should protect irrespective of sexual orientation (Samar, 1994, p. 148-150).
Marginalization of sexual minorities in the human rights is combined by three factors, such as continuing stigma, poor organization and ineffective advocacy within the community of gays, and the persistence to block initiatives. As Canada and Australia are at the forefront of change in favor of same-sex marriages, there are evident prospects of getting rights for gays and lesbians on the international agenda in the future (Sanders, 1996, p.70-71, 82-84). Tasmania is the only state in Australia that criminalizes homosexual acts. It is a violation of international human rights instruments which is supported by Australia.
Many opponents of the same-sex marriages claim that such marriages are harmful for children. First of all, both parents cannot be biological parents of a child and in the future children may have some wrong understanding of the family institute. Proponents ofsame-sex marriage defend their concern on this issue, claiming that the bond of parent-child lies beyond the immediate marriage preview, where the sexual act produces children. They consider a marriage to be a formalization of adult intimate relationship and insist that children do not require the particular structure of a family; they just need love, affection, support and caring parents.
There exist five categories which justify same-sex marriages, among them the procreation argument, the traditional and historical argument, preservation of family and society, the protection of children and the pragmatic argument (Lauw, 2012). Same-sex marriage is a kind of expansions which is proposed to the traditional marriage. Rose claims that in most parts of the world, a family policy is usually used the government’s attempt in order to regulate the lives of citizens and the relations among them.
One of the valid arguments for the gay marriage is that all people have the right to live, choose a partner, be free in the choice, and create a family. From the human point of view, “every member of the human community has the same basic rights including that of marriage and thus if justice is to be served, no discrimination against any member of society, particularly persons engaged in loving, committed and stable relationships should be permitted” (Lewis, 2011, p. 33).
People who support same-sex marriages are convinced that their legalization will provide a variety of benefits for gays and lesbians, as well as the society in general. They also believe that marriage and partnership should be based only on love and affection. One more positive point is that same-sex marriages tend to adopt children since they have no opportunity to have their own. Furthermore, it contributes towards decreasing the number of orphaned children and giving them love and real homes.
The recognition of same-sex marriages has become a social, political, and religious issue in many countries. Thus, since 2000, such countries as Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Argentina, the Netherlands, Iceland, Sweden, Portugal, Spain, South Africa, and Norway have allowed same-sex couples to marry. Aruba, Brazil, Israel, Uruguay, and some other countries recognize same-sex marriage performed elsewhere as their jurisdictions do not perform such marriages.
The first same-sex marriages were registered in the United States in 2004. Later such marriages were legalized in Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, Washington, and New York. Civil unions between two same sex people are allowed in such states as Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Iowa, and the District of Columbia. However, the licenses of same-sex marriages are not recognized by the Federal government.
However, in May 2012, North Carolina became the 29th state which passed the amendment against same-sex marriage. The support of the same-sex marriages is more likely today than in the years when the focus was on equality, and constitutional rights were emphasized.
The Defense of Marriage Act (21 September, 1996) is a federal law enacted by Bill Clinton. According to this law each state has to decide whether to recognize same-sex marriages which were performed in other states or not. At the time when the law came about, same-sex marriages began to spread. I support the idea that the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act is considered to be unconstitutional as it violates the Equal Protection Clause giving same-sex couples no right to marry legally and interfering with the rights of the states in order to regulate marriages. Moreover, the law does not give same-sex couples any opportunity to receive marriage-based benefits such as health benefits, jointly filing taxes, and Social Security survivor benefits.
Deny of same-sex marriages is the violation of human rights as all people, homosexuals and heterosexuals have equal civil rights. Such marriagesencourage people to have strong family values. They prove family stability, havedistinct household roles, such as a caretaker and breadwinner, and show strong family values as they welcome same sex couples and their children into the community. The practice shows that married same-sex couples have more children than non-married ones. Moreover, the studies have shown that children which were brought up in lesbian families had higher self-esteem and better academic results. There are some religious groups which support same-sex marriages, among them the Metropolitan Community Church, Quakers, Episcopalians, the United Church of Canada, Druids, Reform and Conservative Jews, and some Native American religions.Support of this topic increased steadily with supporters who achieved a majority in 2010. In August 2010, the New York Times reported the fact that gay marriage support had increased since 1990s and reached 50 percent (Kiely).
In spite of the fact that there are dozens of those who are against gay marriages, people’s attitude concerning such types of marriages in constantly changing in favor of sexual minorities. Nowadays, polls conveyed across most of the West show that a majority of public opinion in favor of equality for gays, even allowing them to marry and to adopt children. The support of the same-sex marriages is more likely today than in the years when the emphasis was made on equality, and constitutional rights were emphasized.