Same-sex marriage is becoming common and accepted legally and socially in many societies. This is more common in more advanced economies like the UK, Europe and the USA. There are three factors that affect same sex marriage namely society, legal factors and religion. It appears that it is the legal factor that concerns couples who are planning to have the same-sex marriage. Some rights are enjoyed by couples who are married traditionally or normally. Unless same sex marriage couples also get similar rights, they will face a lot of problems like lack of social security, insurance, taxation, recognition of children etc.
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Same sex marriage is a controversial practice in any society. The so called more advanced societies are now recognizing it as a social need to appease the increasingly demanding people who are inclined towards partnering with another of the same sex. Many countries/states have legalized same sex marriage while some others have found alternative legal solutions for it. This paper looks at the issue, its nature, and how it is framed in selected regions or countries.
Same sex marriage – a review
There are three strong factors required to bring acceptance of a particular act or practice in society. They are legal factors, religious factors, and the acceptance of the society itself. Religious acceptance of the above practice is not allowed going according to what is said in the Bible about finding a life mate for a person. “And the Lord God said, it is not good that the man shall be alone; I will make him a help meet for him.” (Wilson, 2006, 29). So he produced for him all the animals, birds and plants for this purpose. After all this when Adam was sleeping he created a woman from Adam’s rib. The Bible intends only that a man and a woman be mated for companionship and continuity. Society is also divided on this issue, but it is much easier for a new practice to be accepted once it has been legalized and accepted by religious leaders. The outlook also changes over some time. Hence acceptance by society may not be such a serious issue in this instance.
Legal acceptance of same sex marriage differs from country to country. Living together differs from marriage in the sense that “you will have fewer rights if you’re living together than if you’re married.” (Family – In England: About this Information, 2009). Even where same sex marriage is not legalized, people have been living together either openly stating that they have physical relationships, or secretly (by pretending to be friends or companions). If an analysis of the above quote (about different rights) is made, same sex proponents want official and legal recognition in order to obtain the same rights as opposite sex marriages. In other word, the issue appears to be a legal one rather than a social or religious one. “In a real sense, there are three partners to every civil marriage, two willing spouses and an approving State.” (Nolan & Wardle, 2005, 96).
It is to be noted that the words ‘of the opposite sex’ is not present in the above judgement. It indicates that if the State is willing, two people of the same sex can get married and get similar rights as traditionally married couples. In the UK same sex marriage is legalized through the term civil partnership after the introduction of the Civil Partnership Act of 2005. “Around 15,000 gay weddings took place in the first nine months after the introduction of the law. Although same sex civil ceremonies are not regarded officially as weddings, the partnership act does give gay couple some of the same rights as married couples.” (Same sex marriage contracts, 2009).
There is no dearth of couples of the same sex willing to form civil partnerships for the sake of getting certain rights enjoyed by traditionally married couples. The rights include areas of child support, taxation, joint responsibility of children (either of one of the couple’s or adopted), inheritance rights, compensation rights, etc. (Same sex marriage contracts, 2009). Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands and some states in the United States have given official legal status to same sex marriages. Social acceptance in not too much of an issue since attitudes is changing. According to the BBC, “the family laws of many countries now treat same-sex and opposite-sex couples equally, or almost equally.” (Religion & ethics – Ethical issues: Same-sex marriage, (n.d)). Even the attitude of religion seems to be changing as seen from the fact that it has been accepted by the church in the USA. In the UK same sex marriage is frowned upon by the Archbishop of Canterbury. But according to a evangelical theologian (talking about the marriage between two male priests), “What, in essence, the archbishops are saying is that if you campaign hard enough the church will change its mind and we will change with it.” (Virtue, 2008).
Same sex marriage is no longer a social or legal issue in many countries including the UK. Society and State have accepted it even though such couples do not enjoy the same social and legal privileges enjoyed by normally married couples. There is also a possibility that religious leaders will also come around to the fact that it is inevitable and accept it as a part of religious practice. Otherwise, as events in the past show, same sex marriage couples will simply ignore their edicts. Non-acceptance will remain only in traditional societies or where religion has a strong hold over members of a society. The major concern is getting a legal sanction for such couples due to the factors mentioned in the paper.
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Family – In England: About this Information. (2009). Advice Guide. Web.
Nolan, Laurence C., & Wardle, Lynn D. (2005). Fundamental principles of family law. Wm. S. Hein, 96.
Religion & ethics – Ethical issues: Same-sex marriage. (n.d). BBC. Web.
Same sex marriage contracts. (2009). Contracts and Agreements.
Virtue, David W. (2008). UK: Archbishops issue muted warning on gay marriage. Catholic Online. Web.
Wilson, Douglas. (2006). For a glory and a covering. Canon Press & Book Service, 29.