The issue of same sex marriage has been in existence since the beginning of history. In ancient civilizations, history records that there were people in leadership positions who embraced same sex marriages in secret. The legal recognition of gay marriages dates back to the first decade of the 21st century. This recognition of gay marriages is due to political, civil rights, religious and social issues that arise in many nations or independent states. These issues have brought different debates in different stages of the society in the social, political and general contemporary levels. The debates give concerns of whether the marriages should be legal and the status that the same sex couples hold in the society.
Legal, Religious and social Perspectives
There a different religious views on the acceptance of gay marriages depending on the doctrines. There are arguments on both sides in support and condemnation of these marriages in different religious setting. Most of the Christian groups have actively opposed same-sex marriage laws and its acceptance in general both vocally and politically. They claim that the acceptance of gay marriages compromise the actual intention of marriage and its religious sanctity. This is because marriage is a sacred institution and has a conventional purpose. Its purpose is not only for companionship but also for procreation. Roman Catholics have been in the frontline against the acceptance of gay marriages, they claim that marriage is by definition the unity of two individuals of the opposite sex. Therefore, same-sex marriage cannot fall into the category of marriage (Elizabeth 2011).
Others claim that the sexual activity between people of the same gender are not acceptable in God’s will. It is immoral and goes against God’s intention of creating sexuality. It also encourages same-sex attraction which nullifies its resistance. It also faces opposition from Islam, Buddhists, Jews and Hindus. There are other religious groups who support same-sex marriage. These are religious groups practice progressive Christianity. Most of them do not declare publicly of their support of gay marriages conduct marriage ceremonies to join gay couples in marriage (Neil 2006). These churches include the Metropolitan Community Church, Christian church (Disciples of Christ), the Unitarian Universalists among others around the United States and the world in general. The other religious groups are the liberal groups of those who oppose the marriages such as the Liberal Catholics, Hindus and Buddhists. They feel that the inclusion of gay marriages will also lead to acceptance of other sexual immoralities such as incest, polygamy and fornication.
The society in general has continued to increase its support for same-sex marriages. Recent polls show an increase in support starting from the first decade of the 21st century. The support has led to legal approval of these marriages. The support for these marriages increase with increase in levels of education. Age is also a key determinant in the support of the gay marriages. Younger people show support of these marriages more than the older generation. There are different arguments in support of these marriages. People point out that these people have an attraction to people of their own sex which is as normal as the attraction to the opposite sex. The individuals should therefore enjoy their right to union in the society without stigma or rejection from the members of the society. However, some societies still hold that these marriages are against the cultural ethics and therefore unethical. An example is most African cultures who condemn gay marriages. Most Americans, however, support full marriage rights for gay couples. It is due to this acceptance that there is creation of marriage equality.
Preferences, Children and Benefits
Legal acceptance of same sex marriages assists in eliminating the obstacles that involves adoption of children. The adoption is possible for gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual persons. The couple can undertake the adoption jointly. One of the members in the marriage can also decide to adopt a child with the other member acting as a step-parent. The states which do not allow marriage equality in their federal law also permit the joint adoption of children. The married couples can also decide to use the option of surrogacy. This is whereby a woman from the same sex family bears a child for the couple (Heaphy 2013). A couple can also use another woman to bear a child for them through artificial insemination or fertility treatment. A bisexual or lesbian woman can use artificial insemination or normal fertilization through copulation.
Different same-sex marriage activists argue that marriage presents benefits to all regardless of whether it is heterosexual or homosexual. The engagement of social roles that come with marriage leads to a reduction in the promiscuity and aggression of men. Same-sex marriages do not show a significant difference in the psychological dimensions in comparison with opposite-sex marriages. The orientation of a parent in the social ability to provide a nurturing and healthy family environment can be high in same-sex marriages depending on the social acceptance of the marriage. This ensures that the marriage can enjoy all the health, social and psychological benefits. The legal and societal acceptance is crucial in enabling the families to enjoy all the benefits. This is also the case in all marriage unions including civil and domestic partnerships.
The economic benefits and impacts on the same-sex marriages has similar characteristics depending on the available laws and social attitudes. There are several financial challenges that individuals in same-sex marriages face in comparison to opposite sex couples. First, they face legal cost in efforts to obtain domestic partner documents. They have to incur these charges in an effort to enjoy the benefits that come with legal marriages. These are inheritance, power of attorney and healthcare decision-making. In the current laws, it is possible for a spouse to inherit property from a deceased partner without incurring any estate taxes (Koppelman 2006). This is not possible for partners in domestic partnerships who have to pay estate taxes on inheritance. Same-sex couples also exhibit lack of insurance and preventive care. This is because one of the partner’s insurance does not cover the other as in the case of opposite-sex marriages.
There are also other benefits that opposite-sex partners enjoy from the legal system. The same-sex partners do not enjoy these benefits. The same-sex persons cannot extend the U.S. citizenship advantage to their partners. This means that partners from different countries have to look for other reasons to change their citizenship but not due to the domestic partnership. They cannot protect their homes which they might own jointly due to the costs they have to incur for potential medical problems that may occur. The taxation system also favors opposite-sex partners. They have a tax relief which does not apply for same-sex partnerships. This is the greatest discouragement for same-sex couples. They have to come from a relatively high economic and social positions to afford their partnership.
Different studies show that the discrimination of individuals in areas where there are bans on gay marriages have psychological effects on the couples. The bisexual, gay or lesbian individuals show signs of deteriorating psychiatric health with increase discrimination and stigma. This is similar to discrimination according to race, age, disability, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status and religion. Any amendment to a constitutional to define marriage as union between persons of different sex is discriminating against lesbian and gay persons together with their families. This nullifies the social and economic responsibilities that these people may be having. It also means that they cannot hold similar social status in the society as the other married couples. The society has had a belief that only heterosexual marriages can lead to the growth of the society. However, this is not necessarily true. A vast difference in the types of families including gay partnerships can also lead to humane and stable societies (Smith 2005).
Same-sex marriages are a reality in the society. The society should embrace this reality to enable peaceful coexistence and social balance. According to the American Psychological Association, it is discriminatory unfair to deny gay couples legal and social acceptance. This leads to discrimination which threatens the psychological health of the same-sex couples thus threatening social stability in general. The couples should have access to civil marriages. They should also enjoy the privileges, rights and benefits that come with the acceptance. These include the right adopt children and hold a social status according to merit but not according to social status. With the dynamism in social norms and perspectives, the society has to change its attitudes on same-sex marriages to accommodate them and focus on social development.