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Same-Sex Marriage: Definitions and History

Introduction

Historically, marriage represented a union of a man and a woman who decided to devote their love to each other, to stay together, and take care of one another. Nowadays, however, this perspective on marriage was subjected to alterations due to the gays and lesbians who are demanding the same rights of marrying legally. Same-sex relationships have been controversial issues for some decades now, mainly due to religious beliefs. Nevertheless, society is more tolerant these days, and the legal same-sex marriage status has altered in recent years across numerous countries. The purpose of this paper is to investigate whether granting marriage rights under the law can extend to gays and lesbians so as to ensure their ability to enjoy human rights fully.

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Marriage in the Present

First and foremost, there is a necessity to determine what marriage represents nowadays, and what issues it houses. The institution of marriage comprises of several aspects of human life: love, procreation, sexual relationship, mutual support, etc. This cluster of facets may exist outside a marriage; thus, there are some other sides that people reflect upon when they hear the word ‘marriage.’ Primarily, it has a civil right aspect which provides married couples with governmental benefits.1 Marriage also implies an emotive facet that presupposes mutual commitment and love in front of society, which further dignifies the promise made. Finally, such unity presumes a religious perspective that denotes a marriage solemnized by authorities (particularly, clergymen) according to the rules of their religion.

Legalization of Homosexual Marriage

All the abovementioned aspects suggest that a government controls matrimony. According to McCoy and Sternglass, civil rights were created to support equality, which leads to the conclusion that the authorities endow every person with a right to a legal marriage.2 However, some states do not allow same-sex marriages, which makes the legalization of homosexual marriages one of the most acute political issues for the nation. In the United States, the legal battle considering legalization started in 1993 when the Hawaii State Supreme Court declared that not granting marriage rights to homosexual couples represents sex discrimination.3 However, Hawaii and other states enacted a law that banned homosexual unions and issued a paper that limited the definition of marriage to a union between a male and a female. Over the past 30 years, the attitudes have become more liberal, causing some states to issue the law legalizing same-gender marriage. Massachusetts was the first state to make this decision in 2004, and by the year 2014, 32 states finally had come to same-sex marriage right validation, though some states still ban this process and prohibit any change within this field.

In addition to this, the concept of the traditional family has shifted over time. Historians claim that the homosexual union is considered to be an aging phenomenon.4 Therefore, the importance of granting the right to legalize same-sex marriage is supported by many politicians, researchers, and ordinary people. The proponents of legalization claim that if a heterosexual couple is a widespread union, then the same-sex couples cannot be excluded.5 What is more, a same-sex matrimony ban leads to depriving such couples and their families of equity, which makes them second-class citizens, and this merely exposes them to discrimination and violates their civil rights. Another significant point of legalizing gay marriages presupposes equal governmental benefits distribution. The federal law of the U.S. presumes granting exemptions and protections such as health coverage, reducing the tax burden, or child custody to only married couples.6 Thus, enacting the legality of same-sex marriage will provide gay and lesbian couples with governmental support.

The Biblical Perception of Marriage

Another most common point of view is proposed by religious people who assert that by definition, marriage is a heterosexual unity. The biblical perception of marriage has been universal for the entire human civilization. Secular psychology argues against gay and lesbian couples as it promotes the idea of men complementing women and vice versa7. The religious aspect presumes same-sex unities immoral because they are incompatible with sacred texts and traditions. This condemnation does not only concern one specific religion, as each of the religions has a set of standards concerning a traditionality of a family. According to McCoy and Sternglass, homosexuality ruins the natural order.8 The statement implies that nature stands against gay marriage, too, as it has created a man and a woman who ‘fit’ each other physically in order to procreate further generations.

As a result, the second objection concerns procreation and raising a child as the primary purpose of a state-sanctified unity. The government has a public interest in supporting procreative matrimonies and wants the children to be brought up in healthy conditions. The opponents believe that same-sex marriage cannot procreate generations, and even if they resort to a surrogate mother, they would not be able to raise a healthy child9. The statement implies that a mentally and physically sane kid can be raised only in a traditional family as a conventional unity serves a significant gender role model. Moreover, there is an opinion that allowing gays and lesbians to wed would undermine the institution of marriage. It means that the rate of gay marriages would rise, causing exponentially more divorces.

As society is becoming more liberal under the influence of democracy, the opinion that gays and lesbians should be granted legal rights to matrimony is prevalent. Moreover, people say that religion is the primary obstacle that retains them from agreeing on the issue. The right to a marriage is a fundamental constitutional right, and each citizen is equally endowed with it. Critically analyzing both sides, it may be noted that each of them has strong arguments, but the opponents’ opinion is purely conditioned by morality, religion, and commonly acknowledged facts. Therefore, the supporters’ point of view may prove that legalizing same-sex marriages will guarantee the absence of decriminalization and the presence of governmental support, the same as the traditional families get. As McCoy and Sternglass state “the rights to liberty and happiness belong to each one of us, and on the same term, without regard to either skin color or sexual orientation”.10 Thus, I believe that a family must be reviewed by society.

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Conclusion

In conclusion, it seems relevant to state that every human has a right to marry as well as a right to vote, and since it is stated in each constitution, there should be no differentiation between a traditional and non-traditional family. Despite that such marriage can be legally conditioned by equality of human rights, there will always be debates about its religiously and culturally contradictory nature. However, the opponents’ perspective can be altered by changing a conventional notion of marriage into a ‘union of two loving people’ who fully enjoy human rights.

References

Lawrence, David G., and Jeff Cummins. California: The Politics of Diversity. 10th ed. London, UK: Rowman & Littlefield, 2020.

McCoy, Erin, and Jon Sternglass. Same-Sex Marriage: Cause for Concern or Celebration? New York: Cavendish Square Publishing LLC, 2019.

Wasserman, Gary, and Elliott Fullmer. The Basics of American Politics. 15th ed. Upper Saddle River, NY, USA: Pearson Education, 2014.

Footnotes

  1. Gary Wasserman and Elliott Fullmer, The Basics of American Politics (Upper Saddle River, NY, USA: Pearson Education, 2014), 205.
  2. Erin McCoy and Jon Sternglass, Same-Sex Marriage: Cause for Concern or Celebration? (New York: Cavendish Square Publishing LLC, 2019), 37.
  3. McCoy and Sternglass, Same-Sex Marriage, 39.
  4. McCoy and Sternglass, 23.
  5. David G. Lawrence and Jeff Cummins, California: The Politics of Diversity (London, UK: Rowman & Littlefield, 2020), 288-290.
  6. Wasserman and Fullmer, The Basics of American Politics, 217-220.
  7. McCoy and Sternglass, 53.
  8. McCoy and Sternglass, 54-56.
  9. McCoy and Sternglass, 59.
  10. McCoy and Sternglass, 19.

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StudyCorgi. "Same-Sex Marriage: Definitions and History." February 11, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/same-sex-marriage-definitions-history/.

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