Free Research Paper On Same-Sex Marriages
Recognition and legalization of same-sex marriages is one of the most actively discussed topics in modern society. Today, public opinion on this issue is split into two parts, and the question of same-sex marriages legalization has both furious proponents and fervent opponents. On one hand, the process of gay marriages legalization is opposed by almost every traditional religious community of the United States. The Catholic Church, American Baptist Churches, Southern Baptist Convention, United Methodist Church, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and National Association of Evangelicals all adhere to one unambiguous position: same-sex marriages should be banned. On the other hand, the ideas of equal rights for homosexuals are widely spread in the society, and, in addition to gay couples themselves, there are a lot of people struggling for the official gay marriage recognition.
Proponents of the same-sex marriages legalization believe that gay couples should have free access to the same benefits of official marriage as well as heterosexual couples. They argue that prohibiting gay marriages violates human rights and runs counter to the main constitutional principles. At the same time, gay marriage antagonists reasonably argue that institution of marriage has been traditionally defined as the alliance of man and woman, and any altering of this definition can have various dangerous effects and may lead to the irreversible consequences. The following analysis of gay marriage history, shortcomings and benefits will weigh all the pros and cons in order to answer the question whether or not same-sex marriages should be officially recognized.
The history of official gay marriages recognition originates from the beginning of the 21st century. The very first legal same-sex marriage was registered in the Netherlands on April 1, 2001. Three years later, on May 17, 2004, United States picked up the baton as the legal marriage ceremony of two women took place in Cambridge, MA. Polaski (2015) notes that as of April 13, 2015, gay marriages are legal in 37 US states and the District of Columbia. In all the other 13 states same-sex marriages are banned by laws, constitutional amendments, or both.
The arguments of the opponents and proponents of gay marriage legalization are much more sophisticated and ingenious than the ones that were already mentioned above. First, let’s take a look at both objective and subjective shortcomings of the same-sex marriage and its official recognition.
John Harvey, late Catholic priest, wrote that "Throughout the history of the human race the institution of marriage has been understood as the complete spiritual and bodily communion of one man and one woman" (2009). This quote refers to one of the key arguments of the gay marriage opponents. Historically, the institution of marriage was established as being between a man and a woman. Thus, recent decision of the US District Court of Appeals upheld the existing gay marriage prohibition in 4 states (Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee). Commenting on this decision made on November 6, 2014, Judge Jeffrey Sutton stated that "marriage has long been a social institution defined by relationships between men and women. So long defined, the tradition is measured in millennia, not centuries or decades. So widely shared, the tradition until recently had been adopted by all governments and major religions of the world" (US District Court of Appeals, 2014).
Another weighty argument of the gay marriages opponents also appeals to the traditional conception of marriage. They argue that marriage was initially created for one exact goal – procreation. Nowadays, a lot of heterosexual married couples consciously reject the idea of having children and regard marriage as the way to spend their lives with the loved ones. Thus, gay marriage legalization will reinforce this tendency of taking marriage as one of the adult privileges instead of the main institute of the society that was created to raise children. That can possibly lead to the further weakening of the institution of marriage, which is already threatened by high divorce rates. Generally, the main idea behind all of these arguments is that children’s needs should be set above adults’ desires.
Children’s needs and interests is the base of another argument against gay marriages. It is believed that children need both a mother and a father. Girls that were raised by single mothers often have serious problems with social adaptation. They are also at higher risk of teenage pregnancy and early sexual activity. Similarly, children raised by fathers only are likely to have psychological problems due to the lack of emotional security that is usually provided by mothers. Thus, opponents of gay marriages argue that children raised by gay couples will definitely suffer more life difficulties than children raised in traditional families.
The arguments of the gay marriage opponents are quite logical and strong. Nevertheless, proponents of gay marriage often come up with even more resourceful reasons in favor of same-sex marriages legalization. They mostly refer to the constitutional principles of human rights and equality, as well as to the fact that traditional concept of marriage is outdated and not anymore applicable in the modern world.
One of the most popular arguments used by the same-sex marriage proponents states that denying people the option to wed is discriminatory and can be treated as the direct human rights violation. For example, the former Washington governor Christine Gregoire said in January 2012: "Throughout our history, we have fought discrimination. We have joined together to recognize equality for racial minorities, women, people with disabilities, immigrants. Legalizing gay marriage is the right thing to do and it is time" (Connelly, 2012). In addition, gay couples that are unable to marry lack the access to the benefits that married heterosexual couples have. There are more than one thousand of special rights, benefits and protections for married couples in federal law. These benefits include US residency and family unification for partners from another country, the option of filing a joint tax return in order to reduce a tax burden, hospital visitation during an illness, extended health insurance programs, and inheritance rights if case of partner’s death. Married couples also have legal protections if they go through divorce: child custody, child support, and division of property. All of these benefits are unavailable to both domestic partners and unmarried gay couples, which creates clear social inequality and causes the disturbance wave among gay couples and same-sex marriage proponents.
It is important to mention that many researchers and scientists argue that the traditional concept of marriage has significantly changed, and the definition of marriage as the alliance of one man and one woman is inaccurate. Some researchers believe that official unions between gay couples were common until the end of 13th century in most countries of Western Europe, with the official ceremonies held in churches. Same-sex marriage proponents use these arguments to show that standard concept of marriage doesn’t have any solid historical basis, and it is time to develop this concept and legalize gay marriage.
Another interesting fact about gay marriage brings us back to the children question that was already mentioned above. In spite of the argument that children need both a mother and a father, it is statistically proven that gay couples make good parents. The peer-reviewed University of Melbourne study conducted in June 2014 showed that children raised by same-sex parents score about six percent higher than the other children on measures of general health and family cohesion (Bever, 2014). Gay marriage legalization can help solving the problem of children left without parental care. With more than one hundred thousand children waiting to be adopted, same-sex couples can make perceptible contribution to the solution of this problem by adopting kids that really need it.
Moreover, prohibition of gay marriages can have serious negative effects on children raised by gay couples. These children are haunted by the constant feeling of uncertainty and humiliation, which can result in future psychological problems. Apart from mental damage, same-sex marriage ban leaves such children without all the benefits enjoyed by the kids from traditional families. For example, children of unmarried gay couples lack the stability that comes with having married parents, including the privilege of guaranteed child support in case of divorce. Furthermore, these children don’t even have any legal connection to their parents, and if one or both of the parents dies, children can’t be sure that they will receive any financial support or heritage.
Taking into account all the arguments advanced by both the proponents and the opponents of same-sex marriage legalization, it can be stated that the problem of gay marriages is very sharp and topical. The main reasons for gay marriage prohibition originate from the traditional concept of the institution of marriage and take into account the interests of children that can be possibly hurt. Surprisingly enough, but the arguments of same-sex marriage proponents base on the same pillars. It can be argued that the problem doesn’t seem to have any solution that can be mutually beneficial for all the parties of the argument. For now, the wisest decision is hidden in finding the points of balance between the proponents and opponents of gay marriage recognition.
Bever, L. (2014, Jul. 7). Children of Same-Sex Couples Are Happier and Healthier than Peers, Research Shows. Retrieved from http://washingtonpost.com/
Connelly, J. (2012, Jan. 4) Gregoire: End Discrimination, Let Same-Sex Couples Marry. Retrieved from http://seattlepi.com/
Harvey, J. F. (2009, Jul. 7) Regarding “Gay Marriage”. Retrieved from http://patheos.com/
Polaski, A. (2015, Apr. 14) Freedom to Marry. States. Retrieved from http://freedomtomarry.org/
US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (2014, Nov. 6). Retrieved from http://ca6.uscourts.gov/