Marriage has been regarded as one of the most important social institutions in the society. This is because it forms the basis of organization in any given society. “Marriage refers to an institution in which interpersonal relationships, usually intimate and sexual, are acknowledged in a variety of ways, depending on the culture or subculture in which it is found” (Dziengel, 2010).
Marriage is treated quite differently depending on the norms and values that exist in a given society. The current society is experiencing many social changes, which have influenced the nature of relationships among human beings. Marriage has also been affected by these social changes.
Same Sex Unions
Marriage is today very dynamic and people treat it differently from what it used to be in the past. Same sex unions are becoming popular in many countries and they are quite prevalent in European countries as compared to other places. Same sex marriage is commonly known as gay marriage. “It refers to a legally or socially recognized marriage between two persons of the same biological sex or social gender” (Goldberg, 2010).
History of Same Sex Unions
“Various types of same sex marriages have existed, ranging from informal, unsanctioned relationships to highly ritualized unions” (Haider & Joslyn, 2008). The early practice of this type of marriage was witnessed when Emperor Nero married a man who was serving as a servant in his Roman Empire.
Apart from Rome, this practice occurred in China during the Ming Dynasty and also in Spain. This type of marriage had very bad reputation and it was strongly rejected by many individuals and countries. “This attitude has been changing in the past few decades” (Haider & Joslyn, 2008). The twenty first century has witnessed a drastic change in the way people perceive this type of relationship.
Netherlands in the year 2001 emerged to be the first country to allow gay relationships. In 2003 the government of Belgium accepted this type of union. In 2005 both Canada and Spain formally accepted gay marriages. In 2006 the people of South African were allowed to practice gay marriages.
Sweden allowed it in 2009. Last year, Argentina, Iceland and Portugal also accepted this kind of relationship. In Mexico it is legalized but with some restrictions in the sense that it can only be practiced within the city of Mexico. However, all Mexican states acknowledge it.
“Israel does not recognize same sex marriages performed on its territory, but recognizes same sex marriages performed in foreign jurisdiction” (Ronner, 2005). Apart form South Africa, other African countries still remain conservative and they are not willing to accept this relationship. “In the United States, although same sex marriages are not recognized federally, same sex couples can marry in five states and one district” (Smith, 2010).
Debate on Gay Marriage
The subject of gay marriage has been seriously debated in many places. This issue has been discussed both in religious and political circles. The following arguments have been used to reject gay marriage.
The general question is that why should people practice this kind of relationship? This is what the majority of people opposed to it seem to be asking whenever this issue is raised in any discussion. This people contend that legal relationships are only those between men and women. Hence they do not see the sense of people engaging in any other type of intimate relationship (Ronner, 2005).
Marriage is often seen as a religious rite and in this case people look at it from the religious perspective. They therefore believe that if gay marriage is legitimized it would undermine the religious principles. This is because religion has always been used to sanctify marriages (Farrior, 2009).
The dignity of the church has been affected because of the different attitudes adopted by religious leaders on this matter. Some churches are likely to get split because they cannot come to an agreement on how to handle this issue. This has adversely affected their capacity to spread the gospel. Some members of the church have even lost their faith and trust in religion because they do not agree with the church leaders who support this kind of relationship.
For example, the Anglican Church members and their leaders have been arguing about gay marriages. Since some of them support it, they have now formed a separate church. The Catholic Church has also had the same problem. Some Catholic monks have also been accused of child molestation and this has really affected their reputation.
Marriage is naturally understood as an institution for raising children. Same sex marriages do not give children an opportunity to have a good development. “In this case some individuals strongly feel that same sex partners can not provide the moral and psychological support required for raising children” (Goldberg, 2010). This is because such children would find it quite unusual when they realize that their parents have the same sex. This can really affect them psychologically (Goldberg, 2010).
Gay marriages are understood as unnatural unions. “This premise influences other arguments and lies behind many negative opinions about homosexuality in general” (Acevado & Wada, 2011). Since gay relationships are not normal, they should be reduced to social unions instead of being authenticated by the national leaders in a given country. This is because if such abnormal behaviors are allowed, they are likely to become very prevalent in our society in the near future. This may cause very many social problems.
Marriage is also an important cultural symbol. “Apart from marriage being an institution, it is also a symbol representing our culture’s ideals about sex, sexuality, and human relationships” (Haider & Joslyn, 2008). Symbols are very important because it is through them that we develop a sense of belonging to a given society or race. “Thus when the traditional nature of marriage is challenged in any way, so are people’s basic identities” (Haider & Joslyn, 2008).
It would also be difficult and expensive to integrate this people into the society. This is because people have to be taught to accept them. “Teaching people to become tolerant to gay individuals would be expensive” (Smith, 2010).
Even though gay marriage is not supported by some people, I disagree with them because of the following arguments.
Marriage enables people to have access to social and economic needs. “Studies repeatedly demonstrate that people who marry tend to be better off financially, emotionally, psychologically, and even medically” (Ronner, 2005). Therefore if gay couples are guaranteed the right to marry they will probably have the chance to benefit from being married. This will also be helpful to the gay communities at large. For example the gay couples would remain committed in helping each other because of the marriage vows.
It would also be wrong for gay relationships to be treated as civil unions. This is because if the gay individuals can get married, they stand a better chance of enjoying several opportunities. This can not be the case if they are in civil unions. “Equality before the law means that creating civil unions for gays will lead to civil unions for every one else and this type of marriage will be more of a threat than gay unions could possibly be” (Farrior, 2009).
The stability of our society can be enhanced if gay individuals can be given a chance to marry. Even the people who oppose this relationship believe that the family is the basis of our society. Therefore, if more families are formed through gay marriages, we can have a great society. The family also dictates the general trend in the society. Marriage would also facilitate the integration of gay people into their communities. Accepting gay relationships will therefore enhance the strength of our communities.
Many children are leading poor lifestyles and they cannot even access the common basic needs. Destitute children can have a chance to lead a good life if they can be adopted by married gay individuals. This is because they can provide emotional and financial support to such children. This can only be possible if they can be allowed to get married and adopt children.
Many people and groups are increasingly becoming conscious, and more concerned about the human rights. “Another argument that favors same sex marriages is that denying same sex couples legal access to marriage and all of its attendant benefits represents discrimination based on sexual orientation” (Dziengel, 2010). Many people and institutions promoting human rights concur with this assertion. People in same sex unions do not access the rights given to the married people.
Gay couples have faced myriad challenges. Most of them have experienced psychological problems associated with verbal and physical abuse. For example, some of them have been attacked and brutally killed. This is because many people are not wiling to be associated with them hence they always intimidate them. One way of eliminating this stigmatization is by simply making it legal for them to get married.
It has also been noted with a lot of concern that HIV/AIDS is spreading among the gay people because they operate illegally. Marriage would make this people more faithful to their partners. This can reduce the chances of them contracting HIV/AIDS because they will be more responsible.
From the above argument it is very clear that many countries and individuals are increasingly accepting the fact that gay relationships are equally good. It is therefore important for people to stop being conservative only when it comes to marriage, yet they accept other serious changes that take place in their society.
For example, if abortion can be legalized, why no not gay marriages? “Legalizing gay marriages will probably make the social economic and political institutions in our societies more effective” (Smith, 2010). This is because people will have similar goals, and they will not have differences based on sexual orientation. I am therefore optimistic that in the near future many people will support same sex relationships.
Acevado, G., & Wada, R. (2011). Religion and attitudes toward same sex marriages among U.S. Latinos. Wiley -Blackwell Social Science Quarterly, 92, 35-56.
Benard, S. (2009). Heterosexual previlage awareness, previlage and support of gay marriage among diversity course students. EBSCOhost Journal, 58, 3-7.
Dziengel, L. (2010). Advocacy coalitions and punctuated equilibriam in the same sex marriage debate: learning from pro-LGBT policy changes in Minneapolis and Minnesota. Journal of Gay and Lesbian services, 22, 165-182.
Farrior, S. (2009). Human rights advocacy on gender issues: challanges and opportunites. Oxford Journal of Human Rights Practice, 1, 83-100.
Goldberg, A. (2010). Lesbian and gay parents and their children: research on the family life cycle. Claiming a place at the family table: gay and lesbian families in the 21st century, 72, 230-233.
Haider, D., & Joslyn, M. (2008). Belives about the origin of homosexuality and support for gay rights. Oxford Journals public Opinion Quarterly, 72, 291-310.
Ronner, A. (2005). Homophobia and the law (law and public policy). New York: American Psychological Association.
Smith, M. (2010). Gender politics and same sex marriage debate in the United States. Oxford Jourrnals Social Politics, 17, 1-28.