Homosexuality, or same-sex unions as they are also sometimes referred to, is the subject of debate across the globe at the moment. The same-sex marriage legalization is a heated debate, especially in the United States where the social issue is being decided on a state wise basis. There are people who are strongly influenced by the issues discussed on both sides of the argument. Homosexual marriage is a critical and sensitive topic that everyone should be careful while discussing it. Whether or not to allow of gay marriages in the current society is often a critical issue being avoided by many. For same-sex couples living in Rhode Island, Vermont, California, New York, Oregon, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Hawaii, the District of Columbia, Illinois, New Hampshire, Iowa, Nevada, New Jersey and Washington state, choosing either heterosexual marriage or same-sex marriage is now a reality. Residents in these states are faced with various challenges and decisions pertaining to the gap between gay marriage and heterosexual marriage. In the United States, there are two main perspectives: conservative and liberal. Conservatives emphasize on legal homosexual marriages bringing negative impacts to the society, whereas the liberal perspective strongly recommends accepting homosexual marriages. Proponents of homosexuality generally perceive it as an argument of personal liberty or equality. Opposition is generally based on the grounds of religion, tradition, and the belief that it undermines basic family values. This paper outlines the pros and cons of homosexuality considering aspects such as beliefs, law, religion, environment and traditions.
Legal and religious commitments between couples have typified marriage for a very long time in the entire world. Additionally the eventual expression of true love also characterizes a typical marriage between man and woman (Thompson 145). The acceptance of homosexual relationships, though these couples have for a long time not been allowed to marry, has raised an intense argument that continues to draw attention from various nations. Some countries have even regarded civil union as a new instance of commitment. As observed in the United States, many politicians strongly oppose gay marriages, but feel that states should decide whether to legalize it or not. Nevertheless, the supreme US constitution points out that states should recognize each other states’ laws. Whether or not to allow of gay marriages in the current society is often a critical issue being avoided by many. For same-sex couples living in Rhode Island, Vermont, California, New York, Oregon, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Hawaii, the District of Columbia, Illinois, New Hampshire, Iowa, Nevada, New Jersey and Washington state, choosing either heterosexual marriage or same-sex marriage is now a reality (Sullivan 404). Residents in these states are faced with various challenges and decisions pertaining to the gap between gay marriage and heterosexual marriage. In the United States, there are two main perspectives: conservative and liberal. Conservatives emphasize on legal homosexual marriages bringing negative impacts to the society, whereas the liberal perspective strongly recommends accepting same-sex marriages. This essay takes a liberal view on the controversy surrounding the issue of same sex marriages and supports the legalization of same-sex marriages.
People often confuse between the idea of marriage and family (Sullivan 404). Nevertheless, a family is the most fundamental unit of the society today. Marriage or no marriage, the underlying factor in marriage is love. This means that marriage should occur between people who love each other (Stacey and Biblarz 102). It should not just be a formality or company without affection. For the qualification of marriage, the two parties have to rationally decide to live together so that they can enjoy their marriage. Whether or not they want children at the beginning, a family altogether does not have the principles of marriage; otherwise barren people should have no place in marriage.
Conservatives View of Legalizing Homosexual Marriages
The conservatives’ view about marriage is that it is a formal arrangement between a man and a woman. They play an important role as a means of procreation. The arrangement of marriage has been traditionally characterized by a man and a woman. The religious aspect of marriage defines marriage as a union of a woman and man, with an aim of procreating and taking care of the children within a family (Farr, Forsell and Patterson 164). This is portrayed in the key religions of the world. Homosexuality is discredited by the sacred texts, beliefs and traditions of various religions. These include the Catholic Church, Islam, Presbyterian Church, the Seventh Day Adventist Church, Southern Baptist Convention, United Methodist Church, American Baptist Churches and National Association of Evangelicals all opposes homosexuality. Accepting homosexuality may result in a scenario where schools and churches are forced to advocate for same-sex marriages to children. Same-sex marriages convey wrong signals to the future generations (Farr, Forsell and Patterson 170). They make the young to perceive marriage between a woman and a man as being unnecessary to take care of children. Such a perception affects the basic foundation of the society. That is why conservatives outline that gay marriages should not be legalized to save families and society as a whole.
The institution of marriage is currently being threatened with the up surging divorce rates. In the U.S., divorce rates are between 45 and 50 percent, and with over 40 percent of children being born out of wedlock. By legalizing same-sex marriages, this institution will be further weakened (Farr, Forsell and Patterson 171). Homosexuality could potentially result in giving people in bestial, polygamous and other non conventional marriage arrangements the right to marry. Traditional marriage is further deinstitutionalized by polygamy which uses the successes of same-sex as leverage.
In good administrative systems, the involved people would not accept their taxed money to be used to support policies of programs they do not accept. Same-sex marriages will eventually entitle homosexual couples to typical marriage benefits. Furthermore, gay couples would claim tax exemptions for their spouses, as well as, receive social security payments for a deceased spouse. Homosexuals will also claim the coverage by the spouse’s health insurance policy. In December 2009, the Congressional Budget Office in the U.S. projected that, by extending benefits to same-sex domestic spouses of certain federal employees, the cost will be $302 million in discretionary spending and $596 million in mandatory spending between 2010 and 2019 (CBO 2).
Homosexuality impacts negatively on most children. Children adopted and rose in households with the same-sex couples grow up missing the normal mother and father love. Girls are very sensitive, and in the event that they are raised apart from their genetic parents, they become vulnerable to early sexual activities and teenage pregnancy. Such environments are not optimum since children are deprived motherly advice and an emotional security associated with mothers. Same-sex households also lead to low esteem children. The absence of genetic parents often leads to adverse effect on a child’s personality (CBO 3). According to a study highlighted in the American Sociological Review, children with same-sex parents are more likely to imitate their guardians and engage in homosexual activities (Stacey and Biblarz, 168). In addition, young men raised with lesbian parents are more likely to engage in homoerotic relationships as compared to those brought up by heterosexual parents.
The gay community is very aggressive and same-sex marriages have facilitated the assimilation of homosexuals in the normal culture. Gay advocates portray heterosexual marriages as a microcosm of oppression. They depict traditional marriage as being oppressive and sexist. This vibrant culture and the gap between it and the heterosexual culture should be expanded at all costs. This can be achieved by reducing the experiences and the opportunities between the heterosexual and the gay (Langbein and Yost 147). Homosexuality has also continued to weaken the institution of marriage by increasing the wide acceptance of single parenthood. For example, this is prevalent in Norway and Denmark. Stanley Kurtz (23), reported that the majority of children in Norway. Denmark and Sweden are born out of wedlock. Same-sex marriages also cause moral degradation. Same-sex couples are much more probable to derail and have an unmoral affair outside the legal set up than heterosexual couples. This is attributed to the fact that women are mostly monogamists. In addition, homosexuals may not be able take care of each other like in the case of a woman and a man. Such arrangements can lead to many vices such as gambling and excessive drinking. Thus, same-sex marriages can result in moral degradation, coupled with many vices and extramarital affairs becoming a norm.
The notion that marriage is a right is lame. Marriage is an institution that enables the society to support heterosexual couples in procreation and not arrangements such as same-sex marriages. By conflating same-sex and other types of marriages is misleading since same-sex marriages is not a civil right. Homosexuality is a sexual orientation, which does not meet the basic criteria of civil rights categories (Stacey and Biblarz 180).
Liberal View of Legalizing Homosexual Marriages
Marriage between two people should occur because of love. Man can love their fellow man, and the same can happen for women. There are many advantages such as the increase of child adoption rates, which helps orphans all around the world who need parental care.
The second advantage of associated with the legalization of homosexual marriages as claimed by Sullivan is “A law institutionalizing gay marriage would merely reinforce a healthy trend” (Sullivan 406). An example is the case of unfair equal right: one critical case is the Proposition 8. Proposition 8 urges the legally homosexual marriage to become illegal in California. The conservatives’ view about marriage is that, it is a formal institution between a woman and a man. They play an important role as a means of procreation. Same-sex couples should be allowed to openly observe their commitment to what they feel about each other. This is subject to the fact that no one else’s concern whether two men or two women want to get married. Such couples have a right to enjoy the same benefits and rights of marriage as the opposite sex couples (Sullivan, 406). The argument that, a marriage between couples of the opposite sex is the ‘traditional marriage’ is relative. Given the prevalence of ancient and modern examples of family arrangements underlined by communal child rearing, polygamy, the exploitation of mistresses and concubines and the widespread of prostitution, homosexuality should only be considered untraditional in evolutionary terms. In the United States, marriage is a dynamic and secular institution which has undergone several transformations. One dimension of the transformation is the widespread interracial marriage. Women’s economic identity and legal rights are also generally accepted. Religious leaders in the U.S. perform marriage ceremonies mainly because the authority by the state.
Gay marriages or homosexuality is equally protected by the constitution of the United States of America, which is committed to equality and liberty. For instance, in 1974’s case of Cleveland board of Education versus La Fleur, the US Supreme Court declared that the freedom of personal choice with respect to matters of family and marriage life is a liberty protected by the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses. The move to disallow same-sex partners the right to marry adversely stigmatizes lesbian and gay families as inferior. Stigmatization also conveys the message that it is acceptable discriminate against them in any aspect.
The other advantageous aspect of homosexuality is that it is a revenue source for local governments and the state. Lesbian or gay marriages can bring financial gain through higher income taxes, marriage licenses and the decreased costs incurred by the government through the state benefit programs (Thompson 2). The budget notes for the Office of the New York City Comptroller (2) pointed that legalizing gay marriage would generate $184 million to the State’s economy and $142 million to the City’s economy within a period of three years (CBO 3). In addition, a study carried out in July 2010 about ‘parenting and Child Development in Adoptive Families: Does Parental Sexual orientation Matter?’ indicates that same-sex couples are well adjusted as those adopted by heterosexual parents (Farr, Forsell and Patterson, 164-167).
Despite the orientation, marriage gives both psychological and physical health benefits. Deterring couples of the same-sex to marry often leads to harmful psychological effects. This is in reference to the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association work in September 2007. Accepting homosexuality gives the gay and lesbian families access to social support, which strengthens and facilitates heterosexual marriages, with the physical and psychological heath benefits linked to the support.
Legalized same-sex marriages gives the couples access to basic rights including taxation and inheritance rights, family health coverage, hospital visitation in case of illness and legal protection in cases of rifts. If same-sex couples are denied marriage benefits, they are likely to incur additional cost in their lives as compared to the married heterosexual couples. This will definitely lead to increased dependency ratio, which negatively impact on the social and economic growth of the nation. General acceptance of the same-sex marriages also contributes to humane and stable societies. This is subject to the fact that, viable social orders and civilizations depend on social and psychological wellbeing.
Homosexuality, the major contributing factor to gay marriages, is presently an accepted lifestyle as strongly supported by biological causation (Sullivan 410). For quite a long time, many people have perceived homosexuality as abnormal sexual behavior. According to psychological research, the existence of homosexuality dates back to ancient Greece. These researches also point out that the term lesbian originated from Lesbos, a Greek Island where gay couples lived. Extensive research has indicated that homosexuality has a biological connection as shown by hormonal switch, but not genetic. Frequently, various sexual features of gay spouses resemble the opposite sex. Many gay people have softer voices, which is similar to females. This is due to hormonal switches. Criminalizing same-sex marriages will accelerate discrimination against gay people, who have no control over their sexual life.
Illegalization of gay marriages is an infringement of religious freedom (Thompson 5). This is because religious and civil marriages are two distinct institutions. The prime reason behind criminalizing gay marriages is that homosexuality is sinful as claimed by major religions. However, the constitution disagrees with this in that it clearly guarantees the protection of an individual’s religious views. The state perceives marriage as a secular activity hence the government should overcome religious influence by not enacting laws because of massive religious support. Legalization of same-sex marriages will protect religious freedom and guarantee respect for the views of the gay citizens.
Based on the arguments and observations above, it is evident that gay marriages will does not harm family values or heterosexual marriages. A research published in Social Science Quarterly highlighted that laws pertaining to civil unions or permitting same-sex marriages have no adverse effect on heterosexual marriage (Langbein and Yost 292). The study also found that such laws are not correlated to abortion rate, divorce and the rate at which children are born at of wedlock. In 2004, Massachusetts became the first state in the US to legalize gay marriage. In 2008, the state had the lowest divorce rate in the country having declined by 21 percent between 2003 and 2008. It was also noted that about seven states with the highest divorce rates such as Alaska, had implemented constitutional prohibitions to same-sex marriages (Langbein and Yost 293).
Lastly, if the logic behind heterosexual marriage is reproduction, then couples who have been proven to be infertile would not be allowed to marry by the same forces fighting against same-sex marriages. Moreover, the desire to have children has never been a prerequisite for marriage. As of April 2013, lesbian and gay marriages were key civil rights that needed to be protected like any other right.
Either same-sex marriage or heterosexual marriage is driven with various factors. Therefore, the course taken when structuring a relationship will depend on the weight of the chosen driving factors. These include the need for children, beliefs, traditions, religion, environment and legislation. States such as Iowa, Washington D.C, Massachusetts, Iowa, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Washington and Vermont have legalized gay marriages. Others are still contemplating on the pros and cons of same-sex marriage. Some states allow same-sex couples to adopt children, but they have not legalized same-sex marriage. Despite the current vibrant gay community culture and advocacy, this social issue has a long way to go, before the same-sex community can be completely assimilated in the heterosexual culture in America. Based on the arguments and observations above, it is evident that gay marriages will does not harm family values or heterosexual marriages. The liberal view of homosexual marriages can be used as a framework for legalizing gay marriages. The reasons for legalization of gay marriages outweigh the reasons for illegalization. This implies that the government should allow gay people to marry.
CBO. “CBO Same Sex Benefits.” 17 December 2009. Web. Congressional Budget Office. 30 April 2013.
Farr, Rachel H., Stephen L. Forsell and Charlotte J. Patterson. “Parenting and Child Development in Adoptive Families: Does Parental Sexual Orientation Matter?” Applied Developmental Science 14.3 (2010): 164-178. Print.
Langbein, Laura and Mark A. Yost. “Same Sex Marriage and Negative Externalities.” Social Science Quarterly 90.2 (2009): 292-307. Print.
Stacey, Judith and Timothy J. Biblarz. “(How) Does the Sexual Orientation of Parents Matter?” American Sociological Review (2001): 159-183. Print.
Sullivan, Andrew. “Writing and Reading Across the Curriculum.” Sullivan, Andrew. For Gay Marriage. Ed. Laurence Behrens and Leonard J. Rosen. 11. Boston: Pearson/Longman, 2011. 404-407. Print.
Thompson, William C. Love counts gay marriage- New York benefits. Budjet Report. New York: Office of the New York City Comptroller, 2007. Print.