Contemporary society is at the core of progressive and liberalist views on relations, love, and sexual orientation. Therefore, the campaigns supporting same-sex marriage cannot be regarded as provocations and strikes against the existing morale in society. In political and social terms, gay and lesbian unions cannot be regarded as liberal movements, or as something that should be resolutely considered.
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At the same time, there are still debates on the crisis marriage as itself which destroys conventional views on relations and attitude to officially registered relations. Because there is a stronger popularity of civil marriage, middle-class people were decisive in setting the tastes and norms of intimate relationships (Warner 2000). In such a manner, the institution of marriage is currently at high risk because of recent tendencies in promulgating freedom of individuals and their rights contributing to higher rates of divorce.
Individual preferences and tastes by the dominating social class influence the overall politics of conservative movements and, as a result, more and more people alter their views on marriage. In particular, the current concept of marriage can hardly be associated with procreation. Heterosexual marriages, therefore, have come out of fashion, because they do not have proved their rights for living together and building their relations independently.
Probably, such a tendency is historically predetermined. In particular, Shumway (2003) emphasizes, “the connection between romance and marriage forged in the nineteenth century was an expression of individualism, of the growing freedom of the individual from traditional social structures” (p. 27). In such way, the discourse of intimacy presents both the focus on the concept of marriage, as well as adverse reactions to it.
Marriage was often considered as a successful financial, political, and beneficial union of two people where love was of secondary importance. Nowadays, gay marriage faces a similar situation, but in a different context. Marriage serves not as a proof of strong feelings, but as an attempt to make heterosexual community recognize gay and lesbian relationships.
Regarding the above-presented deliberations, same-sex marriage has become the objects of active debates between two oppositions. One the one hand, people despise same-sex marriages because of their homophobic feelings and straight attitude to marriage as a conventional institution that take heterosexual relations and procreation for granted.
On the other hand, current shifts in views on marriage provides a solid ground for gay and lesbian movements to fight of their right to be officially recognized through marriage. The latter, however, does not stipulate the crisis of marriage but half-opens the curtain at the actual state of affairs.
In this respect, Warner (2000) argues, “there is something unfashionable… about discussion of marriage as a goal of gay politics” (p. 83). In this respect, the author attempts to emphasize that political and economic instability of society should not solely rely on traditional conception of family that had been cultivated in the time of the American Dream propagating.
By blaming sexual minorities movements and struggle for equal rights, heterosexual society fails to recognize the actual reasons of the crisis of the marriage institution. Specifically, Shumway (2003) focuses on the terms of intimacy and explains, “…society is increasingly accepting of a diversity of intimate relationships, yet the widespread influence of the discourse intimacy suggests that most Americans still value marriage very highly” (p. 26).
The problem is that these highly valued norms are deviated by existing false stereotypes and association with intimacy relations. In this respect, the debates concerns with the bias associated with marriage and its interpretation that marriage belongs to a class of relationships (Shumway 2003, p. 26). Shumway presents movie both as hugely influential and as a trigger of shifts in traditional societal views on marriage.
Specifically, the author’s thesis is confined to the thesis that most movies are not interested in depicting love in marriage, but romantic relationships leading to marriage, or love outside the marriage. The importance of conflict and emotional feeling is not possible to reveal through harmonic relations between a husband and wife.
However, people are more attracted while looking at the divorce process, adultery, or early stages of affection between two lovers. Within this context, American society must not blame homosexual relations as the reason for the destruction of marriage as a firmly established social institution.
Tastes and preferences, as it has been highlighted above, dictate new norms and rules for intimate relations. Therefore, the current campaigns for gay and lesbian marriages have become mostly conservative. To enlarge on this issue, Bordieu (1984) considers marriage “a way of expression of social and political proximity” dictated by preferences and tastes of middle classes of society (p. 557). The breakdown in the system of marital relations should not be directed at the increased popularization of gay marriages.
In fact, the transformation of the class preferences explains the changing views on the conditions of reproduction. Hence, it is unreasonable to establish dichotomy between married and unmarried individuals. Similarly, it is impossible to create oppositions between legalized relationships and illegalized relations, whether the essence of the latter cannot be changed. The official status, however, can only be represented as a means of structuring society and regulating social processes.
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The relation between sexual orientation and social opposition had long been confused by mistake because gender differentiation of individuals has been put beyond the modern trends. To explain this, Bourdieu discovers, “…the properties acquired or possessed through marriage will be omitted from the system of properties with may determine practices” (109). The property issues should depend on the type of relations, should it be either homosexual or heterosexual.
At the same time, the existing division labor based on labor characterization prevents the prejudiced society from comprehending the essentials of new roles when it comes to same-sex marriages. Despite the necessity to separate social relations from the intimate, the emergence of same-sex marriage leaves a significant imprint on contemporary society.
Specifically, the emancipation processes, as well as the emergence of feminist movement can also be considered the underpinnings of fight for equality of individual freedom. Because the process of minority movement was, to an extent, gradual, the same-marriage campaigns can be regarded as conventional because they are supported and official recognized at a political and international level.
Such firmly established traditions as values, communitarianism, institutionalism and social good have been replaced by conservative commentaries on legalizing same-sex relations. The conventional view on sexual minorities’ marriages is not an urgent topic of today, but still, it is critically argued among existing political wings.
Specifically, the philosophy of political conservatism has a multi-folded view on either accepted or rejecting the proposition to legalize same-sex marriage. Despite the current debates, the question of legalizing gay and lesbian relations have become a legal realize, especially when it comes to cultural elites in western nations (Wardle 2008). Thus, the question comes whether the given discussion of marital status of sexual minorities conform to the conservative views on cultural and social development of the world community.
Currently, conservatism as a notion comprises a series of complex political and philosophical contexts. The concept covers such aspects as experience, morality, institutions, preservation, individualism and distrust. Because conservatism aims to preserve past values and experiences, its core belief centers on old tendencies in perceiving society. In addition, it also strives to protect time-proven social institutions that are based on order, tradition, and stability.
Finally, conservatism explores the basis of moral dimensions to support existing spiritual and ethical standards. Because all these notions can correspond with the history of fight for freedom among the sexual minorities, legalization of same-sex marriage can also be regarded as a conservative case. With regard to the above-presented features, gay and lesbian marriage can fit in the accepted notions of conservatism that is supported by the dominating preferences and tastes of middle class.
To prove the idea of conservatism dimension within which same-sex marriage has been praised, several conditions should be considered and analyzed. First, the primary purpose of conservatism is to preserve and stabilize society. In this respect, legalizing the relation of sexual minorities can also alleviate disturbances among the social groups (Wardle 2008).
What is more important is that “formalizing gay relationships with full, formal, registered marriage-equivalent legal status has virtually no impact on the high infidelity rates of gay men” (Wardle 2008, p. 456).
Despite the fact that some conservative dimensions reflect the initiatives of same-sex marriage, it still fails to meet the demand of the concept of marriage as a conjugal institution. Besides, no changes will occur to the institution in case of legalizing gay and lesbian relations because the risks and threats in terms of health care, social responsibility, and political stability.
From a political perspective, the Conservative stream has a solid ground for accepting the legalization of same-sex marriage because it is important to face the facts and address the real issues. People who are reluctance to acknowledge the existence of homosexuals view society as the one based on obsolete stereotypes and prejudiced biases (Lupia et al. 2010). Moreover, conventional functions of marriage also involve a concept of reproduction.
However, procreation as the primary function of married people cannot exhaust responsibilities and possibility of marriage because many people marry with not intent of having children. In this respect, Zerilli (2012) argues, “the marriage debate is entirely separate from the children’s rights debate: there are already gay men and women with fully acknowledged and legally protected parental roles in many of the societies” (p. 72).
In this respect, one should not consider children issues at the core of the problem of legalizing gay and lesbian marriages. As a proof, Bourdieu (1984) emphasizes that the existing prejudices have largely been shaped by middle class tastes producing “false coincidences between the two extreme positions in social space: fertility or celibacy”, which far from same-sex marriage debate (p. 178). In this respect, putting all traditional views aside allows to gain a wider picture of discrepancies between heterosexual and homosexual societies.
With regard to the above-presented deliberations, same-sex marriage issues should also be associated with moral arguments. Just like people can express liberal views on abortion and be conservative about marriage, sexual liberty is allowed to be considered both a conservative and liberal issue.
A spectrum of opinions should be equally accepted and, therefore, the right of sexual minorities on freedom of choices should be respected as well (Lee 2010; McCarthy 2012). Though the liberal and conservative oppositions exist, it is beneficial for highlighting and changing the existing moral norms and values in society. Shifts can contribute to understanding the problem and making the corresponding solutions.
In conclusion, it should be stated, campaigns for same-sex marriages should be regarded as conservative ones because all tastes, preferences, and attitudes are dictated by middle-class society. Despite the fact that conservative orientation has always been associated with viewing marriage as the one based on function of procreation, as well as a union between a man and a woman, there are still cases when all these provisions are not applicable to heterosexual relations.
Contrary to the conventional wisdom, gay and lesbian marriages can also involve similar norms and values, despite their sexual orientation; they are also able to take responsibilities for children upbringing. What is more threatening is that traditional marriage is currently under the risk because of the increased popularity of adultery, civil marriages, and divorce.
Therefore, sexual minorities have the right to freedom of choices, which is specifically stipulated in the U.S. Constitution. Inconsistency between existing laws and the reality is explained by the society’s reluctance to accept the fact of gay and lesbians’ right to self-determination and self-expression. Overall, the conservative and liberal opposition should not focus on the acceptance of same-sex marriage, but on the problem of shifts and changes in society.
Bordieue, P 1984, Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste, Harvard University Press, US.
Lee, MYK 2010, Equality, Dignity, and Same-Sex Marriage: A Rights Disagreement in Democratic Societies, BRILL, US.
Lupia, A, Krupnikov, Y, Levine, A, Piston, S, & Von Hagen-Jamar, A 2010, Why State Constitutions Differ in their Treatment of Same-Sex Marriage, Journal Of Politics, vol. 72 no. 4, pp. 1222-1235
Shumway, DR 2003, Modern Love: Romance, Intimacy, and Marriage Crisis, New York University Press, New York.
Wardle, LD 2008, ‘A Response to the “Conservative Case” for Same-Sex Marriage: Same-Sex Marriage and “the Tragedy of the Commons”‘, BYU Journal Of Public Law, 22, 2, pp. 441-474.
Warner, M 2000, The Trouble with Normal: Sex, Politics, and the Ethics of Queer Life, Harvard University Press, US.
Zerilli, J 2012, ‘Why Conservatives Should Support Same-Sex Marriage’, Quadrant Magazine, vol. 56, no. 3, p. 71.
McCarthy, D 2012, ‘Right Marriage Fight’, American Conservative, vol. 11, no. 4, p. 26.