Same-Sex Marriage Should not be Legalized Essay Sample
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Same-Sex Marriage Should not be Legalized Essay Sample
Although most people have a strong opinion about marriage, no one seems to be quite sure what marriage exactly is. In modern times, human beings have developed as many ways of living together in a union as they have developed new languages. Different cultures also have very different ways of approaching the concept of marriage ranging from different definitions of a marital union, to divorce and inheritance. This diversity has been a central part of the marriage debate, often raising questions as to why society cannot shape marriage in such a way that gays or same-sex partners are allowed to marry each other. Beneath all this diversity however, marriage has always been a union between a man and woman. Advocates for same-sex marriage in the US have however argued that by allowing gay unions, those involved are only enjoying a natural extension of their civil and individual rights as American citizens. They argue that same-sex marriage is a civil contract and should therefore receive protection from the Fourteenth Amendment clause that protects equal civil rights in such other agreements as mortgage and car loans. But while the man to woman marital union dates back to the beginning of human society, gay or same-sex marriage has no such historical background (Hymowitz).
Same-Sex Marriage Should not Legalized
Same-sex marriage also commonly referred to as gay marriage can be described as the union between two people belonging to the same sex such as homosexuals and lesbians and who are also willing to live together in a marital set-up. This type of union is normally established either through religious, civil or social recognition. In contemporary society, same-sex marriage has attracted widespread controversy in both civil and religious circles worldwide. Gay activists have in the recent past become a common phenomenon on the streets of major cities in the developed world as they try to push for state and religious recognition of their type of marriage. As a result, the issue of same-sex marriage has become a major debatable topic in government circles, conferences as well as the judicial set-up. The debate has in turn attracted a lot of opposition towards this type of marriage with many people fighting against any efforts to legalize this type of union (Merin 1-5).
Legalizing same-sex marriage is destructive to the family. Every human society has always depended on the traditional family set-up of man, woman and children for its continuity. It is the family that has helped the human race to survive through such tragic calamities as the great depression, world wars as well as several other challenges that the human race has encountered over the centuries. The family has also helped human beings to remain attached because while friends, colleagues and other acquaintances always come and go, the family is always there. Family relations have been responsible for the transmission of cultural values over hundreds of generations. By legalizing same-sex marriage, the family is therefore weakened and cultural and societal values will come crumbling down. A society without any values or culture is a dying society and to keep our societies alive and running, the institution of marriage must be protected from anything that would break it down. Legalizing same-sex marriage can lead to an influx of the same and this can be a serious social problem because it can lead to population decline. But same-sex marriage is not the only threat to the family because many families today are cohabiting couples, many of whom choose not to have children. According to the 2000 US National Census, about 44% of the total US adult population is not married (Cahill 42-44 ; Messerli ).
Opponents of same-sex marriage argue that this type of marriage should not be legalized because it will weaken further the respect for marriage that has already been weakened so much by the high levels of divorce. If the state passed a law legalizing gay marriage, non-serious or joke marriages will be on the increase especially from people who intend to live together so as to save on taxes. Such relationships do not have a strong foundation and are bound to break at any inconvenience. Furthermore, every society in the world has always considered marriage to be the union between a man and a woman and legalizing same-sex marriage therefore undermines societal values. But restricting same-sex marriages does not offer a solution to the high rates of divorce which is destroying society faster than same-sex marriages. Rising levels of divorce have reduced the importance of marriage in such a way that most people now look at it as simply any intimate relationship taking place between two adults; and having nothing to do with moral culture or procreation (Wardle 180-181).
Throughout history, marriage has been the basic unit for pro-creation and expansion of societies. Because biologically only a man and a woman can pro-create, same-sex marriage would not only be against nature but also against the values that have always been upheld by society. But it is not mandatory for every married couple to produce children in their marriage and not all couples who have children are married. Besides, there are those who are incapable of procreating and many other couples choose to remain childless. Proponents of same-sex marriage also insist that history has separated marriage and childbearing through the availability of such options as abortion and contraceptives, single parent adoptions and single parent families. Same sex couples also have children either from previous relationships or through adoption. Procreation is therefore no longer an essential part of a marriage union (Stewart 183-184; Wardle 180).
Until the 20th century, procreation and the formation of clan, country and various other bonds in order to consolidate land, politics or power were the main goals behind marriage and sexual attraction is therefore a very recent development in determining a marriage relationship. Even among the poor, marriage was not based on love but people chose spouses for their qualities as workmates since husbands and wives were regarded as important economic units. Historically, same-sex unions have never been recognized as similar to traditional marital relationships and opening up same-sex relationships for marriage is a very new concept that has no roots in history. But marriage has changed in terms of the reasons that lead to it and love has been embraced as a major determining factor for marriage. There is no concrete reason therefore to exclude gay or lesbian partners who love each other from legalizing their union. To deny same-sex partners the opportunity to be married is to deny them love and this can only be denied if such love is either wrong or inferior to the heterosexual type of love (Merin 6, 9-12, 51-54; Mello 149).
Legalizing same-sex marriage can also be very destructive to the general idea of marriage. While gay rights activists argue that such marriages are harmless and should therefore be allowed, legalization could create a reaction chain whereby human beings will start pushing for the recognition of marriage to anyone or anything, as long as it poses no threat to anyone. People may soon want to marry their brothers or sisters, parents, pet animals and toys among other things. Because the options for marriage are endless, it is very necessary to stick to a firm definition of marriage. After all, it would only take a few activist judges to use such a law to open the doors for the debate. Other types of marriages are also open to debate on their own merits or the lack of it and adding to the rights of gay couples does not subtract any of the rights of heterosexual couples. Parents also fear that their children will embrace the gay attitude as a normal type of lifestyle and legalizing same-sex marriage may therefore be correcting harms to the gay community at the expense of worse harms being imposed on innocent children. But in the same way that parents cannot choose the type of sex life their children will adapt to, legalizing gay marriages does not mean that adolescents will change their sexuality to adopt gay lifestyle (Wardle 180-182; Stewart 181; Mello 149).
There are three categories of classifying relationships according to the law. Some relationships are classified as barred and prohibited; others are permitted and tolerated; while others are classified as preferred and privileged. Although same-sex marriages have historically belonged to a prohibited status, the USA and several other countries have permitted these marriages and subsequently created a tolerance towards them. Conjugal marriage on the other hand has been the foundation of human society and therefore the most preferred social relationship and one that has also enjoyed tremendous privileges. Proponents of same-sex marriage therefore try to move away from tolerance and push for creation of special preference status. This only serves to remove preferential treatment of heterosexual marriages and does little to elevate same-sex couples. Legalizing same-sex marriage therefore restricts tolerance for the same. Legalizing same-sex marriage does not also help to correct the worst social problem that gay men and lesbians face; their homosexuality. This will only help to create new injustices for this group instead of correcting old ones. Yet homosexuals do not commit a worse social evil than child abusers, rapists and spouse abusers who nevertheless have not been denied by law to get into a marital relationship (Messerli; Wardle 179).
Legalizing same-sex marriage is harmful to children because it legally deprives them of the mother or father figure and removing the clear signal that children and parents are connected together through parental responsibility. Children deserve the attention of both a father and mother and two mothers cannot represent a father and mother. Same-sex marriage also deprives some children of the right to relate with the other half of their family or biological heritage. A marriage between a man and woman creates a foundation for carrying out certain valuable or important functions in society such as procreation, taking care of children and molding them into upright members of society in the next generation. Society is assured of a future. Two women or two men living together in a marital union cannot be able to fulfill such a function. But not all heterosexual marriages are stable and many children growing up in separated or divorced families also have to do without a mother or father figure depending on whoever received custody for the child. Besides, single parent families have become an acceptable social norm and such children are also raised without the presence of one of the parents, mainly the father. But a good atmosphere for development is better than an abusive or negligent parent. Most US states also allow adoption of children by single persons including lesbians and gay men. Some same-same sex marriages are very stable and therefore provide a good environment for child development (Hull 190-192; Loveless & Holman 153-155).
Although gay couples are tirelessly fighting for equal treatment with those in heterosexual unions, it is not possible for society to grant the same marital status to the two types of relationships. This is because though they may simply appear as marriages, both gay and heterosexual unions are markedly very different in lifestyle and also in terms of the social impact that each has on the hosting society. Furthermore if legalized, same-sex marriage could lead to elimination of the actual type of marriage; although in itself it has no capacity to fulfill the functions of a traditional marriage. Society cannot accept the total destruction of the traditional marriage upon which it has relied for existence. In the USA for example, the idea that same-sex marriages should be legalized has been a very topical issue since the lat decade.
In 1993, Hawaii came very close to making same-sex unions legal while in Vermont, the legislature was required by the Supreme Court to grant equal status to both heterosexual and same-sex marriages. This was to take place either by creating a new category of legal benefits applicable to both types of union or by permitting same-sex marriages. Vermont went ahead to create civil unions for same-sex partners that would confer marital status to them. As a result, other states panicked and moved very fast to pass legislation that denied any recognition to such unions. Prohibiting same-sex marriages could however be an indirect way of acknowledging such unions as marriage to underage persons, polygamy or blood relatives because of the definition of marriage as a union between one man and one woman (Stewart 179, 182; Hull 10-11).
Marriage is basically a decision between two people who desire to live together in a marital union. By legalizing same-sex marriage, such a decision ceases to be a personal preference and becomes a judicial function. The institution of marriage is as old as human civilization and has not been created by the law. The law found marriage already in existence and recognized its importance by protecting and regulating it in the same way that it regulates such other resources as land and water in the interest of the public. In a democratic society, the power to decide on important questions regarding basic social institutions should always be the responsibility of members of the society.
Failing to legalize gay marriages does not however in any way destroy same-sex relationships and legalizing them would be beneficial because such a process would help to secure the legal rights attached to marriage for such partners. Such rights as tax treatment, health and employee benefits, as well as inheritance rights are very essential for any partnership and should be legally secured. Legalization of same-sex marriages can also create an atmosphere of competition whereby married heterosexual partners stop taking such a union for granted; as well as add value to marriage as a course worth fighting for and therefore strengthen heterosexual marriage. Legalizing same-sex marriage could also help to reduce hostility and prejudice towards gay couples. In the absence of a legal framework, same-sex couples expressing their affection in public such as kissing and holding hands would openly invite anti-gay conduct that could result in violence against them. Under legal recognition, such a relationship is protected from such hostility (Eskridge & Spedale 134-138, 159-161).
The battle for legalization of same-sex marriage is not over yet and does not appear to be ending soon either. This is largely because attitudes towards this type of marriage are divided even in the nation like USA, where some states legalize it while others prohibit its legalization. Same-sex marriage has become an integral part of the battle for civil rights especially among the minority groups with gays and lesbians taking their position as a minority group that too deserves to be heard. But no matter how hard proponents of same-sex marriage may fight, there is an aspect about the practice that makes it stand against cultural, social and natural values and which cannot be completely denied. No amount of pushing for recognition can change the social stigma associated with same-sex relationships.
Cahill, Sean R. Same-Sex Marriage in the United States. Focus on the Facts. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2004.
Eskridge, William N. and Spedale Darren R. Gay Marriage: For Better or For Worse?: What we’ve Learned From the Evidence. New York: Oxford University Press US, 2006.
Hull, Kathleen. Same-Sex Marriage: The Cultural Politics of Love and Law. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006.
Hymowitz, Kay S. “Gay Marriage vs. American Marriage.” City Journal, Summer 2004. April 13, 2009 http://www.cityjournal.org/html/14_3_gay_marriage.html
Loveless, Scott and Holman Thomas. The Family in the New Millennium: World Voices Supporting the “Natural” Clan. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2006.
Mello, Michael. Legalizing Gay Marriage. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 2004.
Merin, Yuval. Equality for Same-Sex Couples: The Legal Recognition of Gay Partnerships in Europe and the United States. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2002.
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