The most controversial topic concerning the marriage institution that is hotly discussed and researched is the issue of the same-sex marriage. In a traditional society, there is a commitment between one woman and one man.However, in the 21st century, people face redefining of love as the result of homosexual relationships becoming increasingly common. The issue of same-sex marriages has been discussed over 25 years. The debate is substantially difficult and controversial as it has been influenced by the movements of the black civil rights, the women’s rights, gay rights and the evolution of marriage and constitutional jurisprudence. Support of this topic increased steadily with supporters who achieved a majority in 2010. The definition of marriage is ancient. Modestinus, the Roman jurist of the third century, defined the notion as “the union of a man and a woman, a consortium for the whole of life involving the communication of divine and human rights” (Farrow).Marriage is also considered to be “…one of the oldest social, religious and financial forms of partnership, which marks one of the most formative events in one’s life” (Bowal and Campbell 37).
Disconnection between love and marriage lasted till the late 1700s. Consequently, thinkers of the Enlightenment period argued that their older generations have to say who to marry. In 1990s, the criterion for marriage was a sexual satisfaction. Later, in the 1960s and 1970s, people started to hesitate whether they need the laws which made a husband an overlord of his wife. The youth had completely new ideas about a marriage and its meaning. To the end of the 1990s, the ideal of a partnership or a marriage which consists of a man and a woman began to dissolve. Modern society faces the times, when it is not necessary to be a man and a woman to get married or become a couple.
The issue of same-sex marriages may be compared with “double-edged knife” (Farrow). One edge appeals to put instincts of love and liberty. This edge is emotive, plays on feelings of guilt, and features same-sex families. The other edge of the knife appeals to equality and autonomy. It is more rational, harder, and drives to equal recognition of love by the state. Being alarmed about the bonds of marriage, some champions started to defend a traditional marriage. Maggie Gallagher says that “sex makes babies, and babies need a mother and a father” (Farrow).
From their side, proponents ofsame-sex marriage defend their concern in 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.
In spite of wide acceptance of same-sex relations and marriages, there are those who are against the idea of legalizing same-sex marriages as they put an end to the traditional institution of marriage in undesirable ways. Such marriages may be harmful to the child’s well-being as children’s best interests can be served by gay and lesbian parents. Children, brought up in same-sex families, are confused about expectations of society and gender roles. They get this information from the society. Thus, it becomes difficult to teach such children traditions of the family and its significance.
One of the negative arguments against same-sex marriage is that it will destroy the institution of marriage and send wrong signals to the future generations in the same way influencing their opinion concerning the necessity of a couple, which consists of a woman and a man, to raise children. It may also cause a moral degradation. Researchers say that children which are brought in same-sex marriages have lower self esteem, and their single sex parent may negatively influence their mental state and health in the adulthood as they lack mother care or the guide of a father.
Variations in socio-legal conditions and their uniqueness are reflected in different perceptions of issues that constitute concern among the same-sex community (Kallen). 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). 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 as the government’s attempt to regulate the lives of citizens and the relations among them.
One of the valid arguments for the same-sex 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 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., It contribute 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, as well as some sub-national jurisdictions (some states of the United States and several parts of Mexico) have allowed same-sex couples to marry. Aruba, Brazil, Israel, Curaçao, Uruguay, and some other countries recognize same-sex marriage performed elsewhere, as their jurisdictions do not perform such marriages. Thus, in Sweden and Norway, same-sex marriage adoption has caused a loss in the respect of the marriage institution, and in Massachusetts it led to the property values decline.Australia is the only country which recognizes the marriages of this type only after the therapy of gender reassignment. In the US, marriage is a state matter and marriage laws differ from state to state. 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.There are concerns that if one state allows same-sex marriages, it will lead to the same allowance in another state. This tendency contributes towards legalization of such marriages in the whole country. 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. Anyway, same-sex marriages have a lot of pros, and cons are still being questioned; while those who are in favor of or against same-sex marriages are worlds apart in defining a family, relations, bringing up of children, and society at large.
The most controversial is the fact that both sides claim theoverwhelming significance of marriage and provide convincing arguments which support their ideas.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. The studies have shown that children which were brought up in lesbian families had higher self-esteem and better academic results. Nonetheless, from the religious point of view homosexuality is a sin, which is the reason most churches are against such marriages. It is believed that God created a man and woman to come together, procreate and complement each other, and of course, continue the species. It has been proven by studies that young people, who are homosexual, are more often engaged inunhealthy risk behaviors as drug, tobacco and alcohol use, violence, and suicidal behaviors. Nevertheless, there are some religious groups which support same-sex marriages, among them the MetropolitanCommunityChurch, Quakers, Episcopalians, the United Church of Canada, Wiccans, Druids, Unitarian Universalists, Reform and Conservative Jews, and some Native American religions.
When comparing traditional couples and same-sex ones in general, there is almost no difference between them. Both of them have the same everyday problems planning where to spend the holidays, the living expenses, children, and many others. However, same-sex couples can not marry anywhere they want due to the legislation. Married couples have the benefits of having estate planning, family, consumer benefits, and support of the majority of society, whereas same-sex marriages do not, in case they are not allowed to marry. Same-sex marriages do not hurt society; it is just a personal commitment. Society should not dictate who to love, marry or to be committed to, in case no one is hurt.
There are concerns that legalization of same-sex marriage will definitely lead to the fact that school children will be taught about homosexual way of life and the possibility of creating such a family. Such marriages will also teachfuture generations that marriage is about coupling, not about children. It will reduce the public desire to get married in order to have children. In this way same-sex marriages change the definition and weaken the respect for the marriage institution. In such marriages, both spouses cannot be the biological parents of their children. It is natural that some societies, groups or religions disapprove, it is their right, but supporters claim that they have no right to forbid and stop it. There is an idea that the prohibition of same-sex marriages lies in the nature of the marriage institution, since the essential aspects of marriage, as Alsgaard explains, are sex and reproduction. “Although the long-existing link between marriage and procreation has begun to fade, it will not be until same-sex marriage is fully legalized that opposite-sex marriage can fundamentally change” (p. 307).
Today, it is widely recognized, some accept and support it, some have no opinion and the rest are against it. Same-sex marriage is a topic that is now heard of all over the globe; the levels of understanding and acceptance vary in different cultures. Different cultures and religions have different understandings of what relationships should look like. The most accepted relationship is one between a male and female. Having undergone difficult stages of history, marriage has survived, but the fight over it still continues. Thus, a fundamental institution of marriage has undergone tremendous changes in the past half-century. In the US, the essential change was the movement to same-sex marriages. For many years, same-sex marriage is something that people have been fighting for. Generally, the issue affects those who are directly involved into this type of marriages. However, their acceptance is at the core of people’s moral beliefs.
In spite of the fact that same-sex marriages are considered to be social experiments with outcomes that cannot be predicted, the support of same-sex marriages has risen across religions, ages, ethnicities, social groups and races. Surveys have shown that same-sex marriages are mostly supported by young generation. Nonetheless, in spite of countless efforts of same-sex marriage opponents and representatives to convince the population to move forward, concerning this controversial issue, the older generations still refuse to accept same-sex marriages and the rights of homosexuals. It is widely believed that a same-sex marriage is not something that should be encouraged. The research shows that such a marriage leads to lower life expectancy and psychological disorders.Marriage is not only a commitment to love; it is also a financial responsibility and financial benefits that are legally authorized, legal protections for the spouse, succession of property, pension and other rights.