Same sex marriages and relationships have become common in modern societies due to the expansive democratic space offered by constitutions (Sullivan 2011). People misinterpret constitutions to behave in ways that make them happy even if this violates the moral and religious teachings of the society. The move to establish same sex relationships faces resistance from different quarters, but it is clear that a lot has to be done to address this issue and close the chapter (Brownson 2013). Countries like the Netherlands, Spain, Belgium, Canada, Norway, South Africa, Mexico, Portugal, Iceland and Argentina are amongst those that have already enacted legislations that recognise and allow same sex marriages. The future of same sex marriages is uncertain in Australia because of the Australian High Court ruling of December 12th, 2013 that shot down laws that governed these relationships.
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Reflection of Social Justice Principles and Human Rights
John Rawls defined social justice as the right of an individual to receive quality services, respect, dignity and assistance from the society (Lutzer 2009). He referred to individuals as autonomous entities when it comes to justice and recommended that everybody deserves respect, security and attention from the society. In addition, he presented different views that include the role of an individual in making a society complete.
The need to satisfy the wants of all members of the society pushes individuals and institutions to establish rules that govern their conduct (Gill 2012). This means that nobody has the right to interfere with the lives of others and if this happens there are measures established to punish or guide those that do not respect others. In addition, John Stuart Mill advocates for people to do what will make them happy regardless of how others will be affected. These two theorists have been cited in various occasions to support same sex marriages and give their members the right to marry or establish relationships with members of their sexes. However, these beliefs have met a lot of resistance from religious, social, political and academic scholars and groups.
On the other hand, gays and lesbians have established forums, including activist websites and groups like www.australianmarriageequality.org and VOTE4LOVE respectively. They argue that Australians should be allowed to make independent decisions regarding their marriage partners and thus there should be no laws to bar them from establishing same sex marriages (Laycock 2008). Australia had imposed bans on same sex marriages and later lifted them. The ACT saw 31 same sex partners get married on December 7th, 2013. This gave them the freedom to display publicly their affections and show their love for members of their sexes. This was believed to be a positive development in advancing social justice and respecting the rights of all groups in the society. However, their joy was short-lived because the Australian Supreme Court reinstated the ban five days later.
Interest Groups and Their Motives
Australians are divided on this issue because some of them support the court’s decision while others think that it violates the rights of individuals and denies them the right to associate and form relationships (Hertz 2014). This has led to the formation of two extreme groups that hold different views on the issue. These groups have strongly opposed the recognition and endorsement of legislation that promote same sex marriages.
Church leaders argue that same sex marriages violate the sanctity of marriages and goes against Biblical teachings. They claim that people should not be allowed to marry members of their sexes because they will be sinning. Religious groups claim that same sex marriages are a representation of corrupt social values that should not be allowed in the society (Staver 2011). Leaders have formed forums that are aimed at advising legislators to water down any attempt to recognise same sex marriages. They are never tired of pushing the government and public figures to consider the importance of family virtues in developing the social and economic aspects of Australia.
Another interest group in this matter is the family. Parents have come out to oppose the possibilities of lifting the ban on same sex marriages. They argue that the functions of families will be violated if the state allows members of the same sex to get married (Corvino 2012). In addition, they present that the future generation is at risk of poor moral standards if same sex marriages are allowed to take place in Australia. They argue that allowing same sex marriages will set a bad precedence for similar legislations that will interfere with the functions of social institutions like churches and families (Wilson 2013). The functions of a family are to reproduce, offer companion and advance societies. However, same sex marriages will not contribute to societal development and instead will complicate the promotion of virtues in the society.
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Gay and lesbian members are interest groups in this issue. They believe that they should be allowed to marry members of their sexes because they are human beings and should not be denied their fundamental rights (Australian Marriage Equality 2014). In addition, they claim that there is no difference between heterosexual and same sex marriages because both of them are formed by adults that understand what they do. Most gays and lesbians believe that the Australian High Court violated their rights by placing bans on same sex marriages.
They have formed and joined groups that will enable them to present their petitions to the High Court to compel the state and parliamentarians to reconsider their stand on banning same sex marriages. Gays and Lesbians argue that they are being denied their rights and freedom to socialise and express their opinions (Klarman 2014). They believe that they should not be barred from doing what they think is right because all Australians have the freedom of getting married to their preferred partners. Therefore, they will not stop protesting to ensure their rights are respected and that they are allowed to establish same sex marriages.
The Australian parliament and courts are other interest groups in this matter. Earlier court rulings had allowed same sex marriages, but the position was changed after the High Court shot down the decision (Pierceson 2014). The courts must ensure the Australian Constitution is protected and not misinterpreted to protect the rights of Australians. Moreover, their interpretation of the constitution and the ruling on the appropriateness of same sex marriages will determine its future in Australia.
The debate on same sex marriages will not leave Australia regardless of the Supreme Court’s decision. Gays and lesbians believe that they have the right to get married, and the state, religious groups and social activists should not interfere with their rights. On the other hand, families, churches and some legislators believe that same sex marriages portray moral decadence and should not be allowed in Australia. It is interesting to wait and see what the future holds for these groups because other countries continue to allow same sex marriages regardless of the consequences of these relationships on family virtues.
Australian Marriage Equality. (2014). Judge Strikes Down Michigan Ban on Marriage Equality, State Asks for A Stay. Web.
Brownson, J. V. (2013). Bible, Gender, Sexuality: Reframing the Church’s Debate on Same-Sex Relationships. Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. Web.
Corvino, J. (2012). An introduction to Debating Same-Sex Marriage. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Web.
Gill, E. R. (2012). An Argument for Same-Sex Marriage: Religious Freedom, Sexual Freedom and Public Expressions of Civic Equality. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press. Web.
Hertz, F. (2014). Making It Legal: A Guide to Same-Sex Marriage, Domestic Partnerships and Civil Unions. New York: Springer. Web.
Klarman, M. J. (2014). From the Closet to the Altar: Courts, Backlash, and the Struggle for Same-Sex Marriage. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Web.
Laycock, D. (2008). Same-Sex Marriage and Religious Liberty: Emerging Conflicts. New York: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers. Web.
Lutzer, E. W. (2009). The Truth about Same-Sex Marriage: 6 Things You Need to Know about What’s Really at Stake. Illinois: Moody Publishers. Web.
Pierceson, J. (2014). Same-Sex Marriage in the United States: The Road to the Supreme Court and Beyond. New York: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers. Web.
Staver, M. (2011). Same-Sex Marriage: Putting Every Household at Risk. New York: Hand B Publishing Group. Web.
Sullivan, A. (2011). The Debate on Same-Sex Marriage: Pro and Con. New York: Vintage Books. Web.
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Wilson, L. (2013). High Court Strikes Down ACT Gay Marriage Law. Web.