Nancy Gill has been working for the American Postal office for almost 23 years but unlike other employees who can provide health benefits for their families, she cannot provide the same for her spouse because of one reason – she is married to a woman. Gill and her spouse, Marcelle Letourneau were married in Massachusetts in 2004 and now, they are challenging the federal law Defense of Marriage Act or DOMA that “defines marriage as a being between a man and a woman” (Seelye).
The couple are backed up by Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders together with 15 other couples who also complained about DOMA. The same sex couples are fighting against DOMA because they claim that DOMA makes same sex marriage look very immoral. Also, it gives a big burden on same sex couples because “ended up hurting such couples by making them pay twice for health insurance, for example, or denying them death benefits” (Seelye). The Obama administration disagrees with DOMA but as of the moment, there is nothing drastic they can do about it because it is not unconstitutional.
The issue here is not whether to allow same-sex marriage; five states and the District of Columbia have allowed it but it does not change the fact that couples in same sex marriages are left out of the benefits that the typical heterosexual couple receives. As one may notice, same sex marriages are not legal in all the parts of the United States. Only some states have approved of it and as of the moment, same sex marriages are not really prioritized by law as seen in the article. They are not given the same benefits as normal couples.
Anthropology is useful in the subject of same sex marriage because the study of anthropology has documented the development of same sex marriage from all over the world. For example, it is only in some societies that same sex marriage is allowed such as Spain, Canada, the Netherlands and Belgium (Haviland et al, 20). Anthropology tells us that the development of same sex marriage is different depending on the society because “it is human societies that define the boundaries of social relationships” (20).
According to many feminist anthropologists, the reason why same sex marriage is not readily acceptable in the society of the United States is because the society’s has allowed men to dictate on the women’s sexuality and make rules for it (Lewin et al, 71). That kind of society is called patriarchal and in that society, men use sexuality as a tool to dominate and oppress women through sexual objectification (71). From the feminist perspective, sex, marriage and family were all tools used by men to limit women to heterosexuality and as a result, under the male power.
Anthropologists point out how males dominate the females in many aspects of culture and society. Examples of these are “arranged and child marriages, brideprice, foot-binding, purdah (the segregation of women from men typical in some Islam societies), veiling, the chastity belt, clitoridectomies, and female infanticide” (71-72). Practices like these are made by society to make sure that women are always paired up with men. That is how men dominate women in society through major and minor cultural and societal practices.
Given this information, it is not a surprise as to why same sex couples are having a hard time attaining rights that are equal to the typical heterosexual marriage or marriage to the opposite sex. As stated above, DOMA dictates that marriage is a union between a man and a woman, not a union of two men or two women respectively. DOMA is a law created by the government, a patriarchal institution. The government patronizes heterosexual unions, which is a political institution in itself.
Heterosexuality is a “political union that makes women less powerful” (71). Society goes by heterosexuality and dictates that women should always end up with men. The fact that there are more women nowadays who are open to same sex marriages is a threat to the political institutions because women, after all, can have the freedom to choose whether or not they would like to marry and who they will marry. This fact is unacceptable to society because it does not agree with the rules of societal relations that have been established.
If one goes back to history, marriage in most cultures have always been known to be a union between a man and a woman. The union of two sexes is still highly unthinkable for many societies because in that union, most likely there is no more inequality between the two entities because they are of the same sex. Same sex marriage may be accepted in some states but it does not mean that it is warmly accepted. Life for same sex couples is still difficult because society sees it as a breaking away from the norms.
Same sex unions are making progress in gaining acceptance but they still have a long way to go. After all, we are still governed by a patriarchal society. sWorks Cited Haviland, William et al. The Essence of Anthropology. California: Thomas Wadsworth, 2007. Lewin, Ellin & Leap, William, eds. Out in Theory: The Emergence of Gay and Lesbian Anthropology. Illinois: University of Illinois, 2002. s Seelye, Katharine. “Marriage Law is Challenged as Equaling Discrimination. ” New York Times,May 6, 2010. http://www. nytimes. com/2010/05/07/us/07doma. html. Accessed