The legalization of same-sex marriage is fought strongly by both sides. Those against same-sex marriages fear legalizing them would diminish traditional marriages, along with having other concerns. The main view of those for same-sex marriage legalization is that they see it as a right to gays and lesbians. The question is which side is right? Would the legalization of same-sex marriages take away from traditional marriages or is it a right not being honored? The question of same-sex marriage brings with it the question why. Is it important for same-sex marriages to be legalized considering that same-sex couples can live in cohabitation even in the states where same-sex marriages are illegal? These are a few of the age old questions pertaining to the issue of same-sex marriage legalization. While many American’s view on marriage is that they are between a man and a woman, there are still several who believe same-sex marriages should be legalized. In the views of Americans who are for same-sex marriage legalization the right to many is not an individual right but a right to each couple. “I argue that the right to marry is fundamentally, not an individual right, but a couples collective right” (Williams, 589).
Those against same-sex marriage view the right to marry as an individual’s right. Therefore they see same-sex couples as having the same individual right as heterosexual couples, to marry a member of the opposite sex. “One cannot marry by oneself; and thus cannot exercise the right to marry by oneself” (Williams, 593) Thus the right to marry should be viewed as a collective right of a couple rather than an individual right. Does this mean that same-sex marriages should be allowed? Many people see both sides of this issue, and still yet others have no opinion. “Jeremy Garrett has recently defended a view he calls “marital contractualism” which applies Nozick’s general defense of the minimal state to the institution of marriage” (Williams, 590) While defending his idea of “marital contractualism” Garrett proposed that the government’s involvement in marriages should be focused completely on the contracts and upholding them to the value of the law.
This would make marriages between couples freely partaking in the contracts and keep the governments involvement at a minimum. Those fighting to legalize same-sex marriage argue this should allow any person of any race, gender or cultural background to marry any other willing person of any race, gender or cultural background. Those who wish to legalize same-sex marriages could use relationship-specific investments to argue their point of view. “Marriage encourages relationship-specific investments because it reduces uncertainty about the relationship’s future and provides insurance against the risks of investment” (Lau, 974). They could explain given the right to marry the person of their chose could boost the couple’s security level. With the added security in their relationship’s future these couples could be more likely to invest in large purchases together, i.e. a house or other large investment. Those against same-sex marriages or relationships could argue that the individual’s in these same-sex relationships could make the same big investments on their own or in a heterosexual relationship. Many businesses in the United States already offer same-sex couples the same benefits as different-sex couples.
The number of businesses recognizing same-sex couples is growing across the United States. “Currently, thirty-eight states have passed legislation in response to passage of DOMA that defines marriage as between a man and a woman, and does not honor marriages between same-sex couples from other jurisdictions” (Barkacs, 35). The realization that more and more businesses are supporting same-sex couples and at the same time numerous states are passing laws defining marriage between a man and a woman seems almost backwards. Most of the time when numerous businesses change policy and being accepting or refusing a certain group of people it is because of state or federal mandates. Marriage is the social acknowledgement of a successful partnership. “Marriage is a sign of social prestige and marks a successful transition to adulthood” (Lau, 975). Without same-sex marriages being legalized same-sex couples do not get to experience the social rewards that different-sex couples receive through marriage. Same-sex couples do not have these supportive interactions with friends and family. Legalizing same-sex marriages would give these couples the same successful persona of different-sex marriages. “The dissolution rate for same-sex cohabitation was 12 times higher than the rate for different-sex marriage, and 3 times higher than the rate for different-sex cohabitation (Lau, 975). The legalization of same-sex marriage could help improve the number of same-sex relationships that do not work out by giving these couples the feeling of a successful relationship. “There is little reason to anticipate differences between same-sex and different-sex couples for some well-known correlates of stability such as childhood family structure or socioeconomic status, occupation and school enrollment and childhood region” (Lau, 976).
Statics show that these things will most likely affect both same-sex and different-sex couples the same way. This would mean that the same issues that tend to lead to dissolution with different-sex couples will most likely have the same effect on same-sex couples. Those who are against the legalization of same-sex marriages bring up the argument that in more states than those that allow same-sex couples to adopt a single person can adopt. “A common issue for same-sex couples who want to start a family is the issue of adoption” (Barkacs, 35). There are only a handful of states in the United States that allow stable same-sex couples to adopt children. Those who are for same-sex marriage legalization think that it would help those same-sex couples who wish to start a family. In their eyes it could also help those children, who without the passing of such a law or the allowance of same-sex couples to adopt, could spend their entire life in an orphanage. The view on marriage in the United States is wildly changing. “No longer is marriage to be regarded essentially as a bond between one man and one woman, but as a sexual relationship in which two men or two women may also be committed to each other (Goldingay, 1). In the last twenty or thirty years a dramatic change in public opinion has occurred. Those who support same-sex marriage are just waiting for society to catch up with public opinion. When talking about the traditional marriage those against same-sex marriages believe marriage is between a man and a woman. Those who fight for same-sex marriage legalization ask when “traditional marriage” began.
“Marriages were a private contract arranged by the father of the bride and the bridegroom, and could be terminated at any time by either partner” (Barkacs, 38). So depending on when “traditional marriage” started would decide the definition. If “traditional marriage” started back in the colonial days with our ancestors then marriage is really the passing down of property and the fathers of the bride and groom pick the partners. So if this is “traditional marriage” then even different-sex marriages in today’s world are not “traditional marriages.” Massachusetts’ constitution gives more protection to the equal rights guarantee than that of the United States constitution. “In Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, the Massachusetts Supreme Court held that the Massachusetts constitution requires that every individual must be free to enter into a civil marriage with another person of either sex” (Barkacs,36). To come to this conclusion the court used their state’s constitution. It is state rulings like this one that leads people to believe that the federal government will some day pass a law legalizing same-sex marriage.
“On May 17, 2004, same-sex marriage became a legal reality in America” (Severino, 941) Goodridge v. Department of Public Health allowed for same-sex marriages in Massachusetts and set forth a wave of litigation that still continues today. With these lawsuits and political controversy some religious members of the U.S. population believe their religion will be negatively affected by the legalization of same-sex marriages. Judging from the past it is only a matter of time until same-sex marriages are not only legal but also widely accepted in the United States. Many marriages that are legal and accepted today were once illegal. Before the Civil War slaves were unable to marry, once the Civil War was over they could marry but interracial marriages were illegal. In 1967 this ban on biracial marriages was ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme court. “The idea of marrying for romantic love did not begin to take root in the United States until around 1920” (Barkacs, 38). With all these changes in accepted marriages in U.S. history both sides of the issue believe it will only be a matter of time before same-sex marriages are legal.
Severino, Roger. “Or For Poorer? How Same-sex Marriage Threatens Religious Liberty.” Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy 30.3 (2007): 939-82. Goldingay, John E., et al. “Same-sex Marriage and Anglican Theology: A View From the Traditionalists” Anglican Theological Review 93.1 (2011): 1-50. Barkacs, Linda L. “Same Sex Marriage, Civil Unions, And Employee Benefits: Unequal Protection Under The Law – When Will Society Catch Up With The Business Community?” Journal Of Legal, Ethical and Regulatory Issues 11.2 (2008) 33-44. Williams, Reginald. “Same-sex Marriage and Equality.” Ethical Theory And Moral Practice 14.5 (2011): 589-95. Lau, Charles Q. “The
Stability of Same-sex Cohabitation, Different-sex Cohabitation, and Marriage.” Journal of Marriage and Family 74.5 (2012) 973-88.
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