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The traditional view of marriage as a union between two consenting adults of different sexes has been challenged by calls to give gay couples marriage rights. While same sex relationships were stigmatized and criminalized for centuries, the past 4 decades have witnessed a significant change in the society’s view of the issue. Same sex relations are legal in all developed countries and discrimination because of sexual orientation is not allowed.
Due to this positive view of homosexual relationships by the society, gay and lesbian groups have made calls for the legalization of gay marriages. These same-sex union activists argue that admittance of gays into the marriage institute will guarantee their equality with heterosexual couples. These calls have been met with opposition since not everyone agrees that gays should be allowed to enter into marriage. This paper will argue that gay marriages are detrimental to the society and as such, they should not be legitimized.
Arguments against Gay Marriage
Gay marriages will necessitate a change in the traditional definition of marriage in order to accommodate same-sex unions and this will lead to a breakdown in this revered institute that has served as the basic building block of society for centuries. In order to accommodate same sex unions, the definition of marriage will have to be changed from “union between a man and a woman” to “union between two consenting adults of same or different sexes.
This redefinition will transform the institute with dire consequences for the society. The threat that gay marriage poses to the marriage institution was recognized by the former US President George W. Bush who acknowledged the importance of the traditional marriage institute for the welfare of the children and the stability of society (Baunach 346). President Bush asserted that allowing gay marriages would forever change the meaning of marriage and possibly destabilize the society.
Allowing same gay marriage might lead to a demand for legitimization of polygamy, polyandry, and even incest. As it currently stands, there are strict laws dictating that only two unattached individuals of different sexes can enter into marriage. If same sex marriages are permitted, there is a danger that sexual preference will become a protected class. It is possible that the same arguments currently used by gay marriage proponents will be used by polygamists and incest advocates (Duncan 662).
Proponents of gay marriages argue that this presumption is unfounded since their case is deferent from that offered by the other groups. While the particular arguments made in support of gay marriages are unique, the result of legalizing gay marriages is will be the creation of protected classes based on sexual preference. It is not implausible that advocates of polygamy, polygamists, and incest will seek similar protection since this unions are also based on sexual preferences.
Allowing same sex marriages would be detrimental to the well being of children since a family containing a father and mother provides the best structure within which the child can grow and thrive. The family is the unit within which children are brought into the world and raised to be responsible citizens.
Even though having children is not an obligation for married couples, majority of the people who enter into marriage end up having children. Proponents of gay marriages argue that same-sex couples are able to provide the love and safe environment for children just like their heterosexual counterparts. Bernheim argues that while gay couples can provide the same love and material support to a child that heterosexual couples do, they cannot provide the necessary structure for the child to grow in (25).
Research reveals that a unit containing a father and mother figure provides the best context for bringing up children. Children who have been brought up in a heterosexual environment fare better in terms of mental health, academic performance, and social adjustment then children who have been brought up in single parent or same-sex parent settings.
Gay marriages will erode the specialness of the marriage institute and lead to a prevalence of immoral sexual conduct in society. Marriage is considered to be a “special institute” and children grow up hoping to one day join this institute. Because of this, marriage is able to act as a regulator of intimate relationships and sexual conduct among members of the society (Duncan 669).
If same-sex marriages are allowed, this specialness of marriage will be eroded and the youth will no longer aspire to join. Duncan laments that a breakdown in the traditional marriage institute will lead to a society where sexual interests trump the interests of a cohesive society (663). Without marriage to regulate sexual conduct, the youth will engage in sexual relations unabated.
Support for Gay Marriages and Counterarguments
Gay marriages should be allowed so that same-sex couples can enjoy their right to share a fulfilling life with their partners in a legally sanctioned institute that offers some benefits. The marriage institute offers some material and legal benefits to the couple (Peplau and Fingerhut 406).
Married couples are able to pool resources and enjoy reduced taxation due to the legal mechanisms in place. The financial wellbeing of married people is therefore higher than that of individuals who are not married. Proponents of same-sex marriage declare that denial of marriage prevents gay couples from fully enjoying these benefits.
This claim that marriage accrues benefits to the heterosexual couple is true. However, gay couples can enjoy the same benefits without joining the marriage institute. There are civil unions that enable partners to pool their resources and enjoy benefits similar to those of a married couple. Since same sex couples can enjoy material benefits without the need for marriage, the institute should not be redefined to accommodate them.
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Proponents of gay marriages argue that homosexuals have the right to marry since they love each other the same way that heterosexuals do. It is therefore discriminatory for heterosexuals to be allowed to marry while the same privilege is denied to homosexual couples. Research indicates that love and satisfaction experienced within the context of a relationship is similar between gay and heterosexual couples (Peplau and Fingerhut 405).
While it cannot be disputed that same sex couples love each other in the same way that heterosexual couples do, it does not follow necessarily that they should be given the right to marry. Bernheim asserts that love for each other is not the precondition to being given access to the marriage institute since there are rules that dictate what kinds of unions can be recognized a marriage (23).
For example, a father cannot be allowed to marry his daughter even if the two can demonstrate that they are deeply in love with each other. Similarly, a man cannot be permitted to marry a woman who is already married since there are laws that prohibit polyandry. Therefore, while gay couples have the right each other, they should not be afforded marriage rights.
Proponents of gay marriages point to the increasing support for marriage equality by the general population as a reason why same sex marriages should be allowed. Sullivan documents that according to the Gallup poll, about 70% of Americans accept gay relationships and believe that gay individuals should not be discriminated against (8).
This statistics are contrasted to the opinion in 1999 when only 50% supported homosexuality. While there has been an upward shift in acceptance of gay relationships, this does not equate to support for gay marriages. At the present the public opinion in support of gay marriages is not as high as gay right activists suggest. Bernheim notes that the statistics offered to support gay marriages are grossly exaggerated in order to shift public opinion (28).
This paper has argued that same-sex marriages should not be allowed since they are disadvantageous to the society. It began by highlighting how gay marriages would threaten the stability of the society by causing a change in the traditional prescription of marriage.
The children would also be denied a chance to grow in the most favorable environment. The paper has also documented some of the arguments offered in support of gay marriages and proceeded to refute them. From the arguments made in this paper, it is clear that a hateful attitude is not what leads to the opposition to gay marriages. Rather, the opposition is driven by the desire to guarantee social stability by preserving the institute of marriage in its traditional form.
Baunach, Michelle. “Decomposing Trends in Attitudes Toward Gay Marriage, 1988–2006”. Social Science Quarterly 92.2 (2011): 346-363. Print.
Bernheim, Gilles. “Homosexual Marriage, Parenting, and Adoption”. Journal of Religion & Public Life 231.1 (2013): 21-32. Web.
Duncan, William. “The Litigation to Redefine Marriage: Equality and Social Meaning”. Journal of Public Law 18.1 (2005): 623-663. Print.
Peplau, Letitia and Fingerhut, Adam. “The Close Relationships of Lesbians and Gay Men”. Annu. Rev. Psychol. 58.1(2007): 405–24. Web.
Sullivan, Andrew. “The President of the United States Shifted the Mainstream in one Interview”. Newsweek 159.21 (2012): 7-12. Web.