Should we promote and legalize gay marriages? Essay
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Should we promote and legalize gay marriages? This question has already become the subject of the most ardent debates. California has fueled a new wave of opposition, having recently legalized gay marriages within its state borders. Proponents of gay marriages view legalization as a feature of a progressive society. Opponents vote against gay marriages as those which undermine eternal notions and ideas about family.
Both sides of gay marriage debate are partially correct, but evidently we are no longer able to stop the development of new “family and marriage” visions.
In this context, gay marriages mark a new stage of societal development, at which the notion and definition of family is being transformed. “Traditionally, marriage has been defined as a religious & legal commitment between a man and a woman, as well as the ultimate expression of love” (Messerli).
However, we have to a new understanding of marriage, in which same-sex partners may form family unions and perform traditional family obligations.
Proponents of gay marriages promote them as the means to avoid minority discrimination and the instrument of providing same-sex couples with equal (and legal) family rights. Homosexuality is certainly becoming an accepted lifestyle and will probably form a new social institution, but the number of gay marriage opponents increases, too.
Those who reject same-sex marriages refer to the threat gay marriages create in terms of traditional family values. “It would weaken the definition and respect for the institution of marriage” (Messerli); and that is a widely-spread argument for those who oppose to legalization of same-sex marriages. Regardless whether one supports or rejects gay marriages, both sides of the debate recognize that the time has come to re-define the notion of marriage; this redefinition should take place in legal, sociological, and cultural contexts.
Gay marriage should no longer be considered a threat to traditional family values; it should be viewed as the need to re-consider family as a sociological institution as we transfer to a new level of our mental and cultural development. “Gay rights and gay marriages are being driven by an array of social forces and institutions. In California, the driving force has been an elected mayor, with the support of his constituents” (Anonymous). Generally, gay marriage debate is impacted by religious organizations, that constitute a separate social institution, and by the family institution in itself.
Family institution and traditional family values have led the Parliament of Canada to re-affirming “the historic definition of marriage by a vote of 216 to 55” (Institute for the Study of Marriage, Law and Culture). Later, traditional family definition was declared discriminatory and was re-defined as “a union of two persons” (Institute for the Study of Marriage, Law and Culture). In that way, Canadian government has introduced a new (transformed) vision of what marriage is.
Furthermore, the notion of gay marriages serves a powerful social force in itself, driving the societal desire to either abolish or legalize it as a new form of union between the two people. The world is moving towards the time when gay marriages will ultimately turn into a separate social institution, that would be legally regulated and culturally appropriate, but even now we have a stable set of legislative norms that could help same-sex couples become full members of other social institutions. The Fourteenth Amendment to the U. S.
Constitution states that “No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of […] liberty […] nor to deny to any person […] the equal protection of rights” (United States Constitution). Through the prism of the Fourteenth Amendment, the state initially abridges and limits rights and privileges of the same-sex couples. That means that laws as a separate social institution should govern the promotion of gay marriages across all states.
Ultimately, making gay marriages legal will serve an extremely powerful social force that will drive public opinion towards transforming the traditional notion of family. Internet is full of various, ambiguous and contradictory information about gay marriage debate. It can fuel the negative attitudes of those who reject same-sex relations, and support those who want to re-define the notion of marriage. Kurtz is correct when he refers to marriage as something more than a mere bundle of rights, but he is even more correct that the right for marriage as one of the basic civil rights should be equally available for all.
Leff & Fehd are objective when they cite opponents of gay marriages from California: “we wish these same-sex couples well, our beef is not with them, but with the judges who have the arrogance to rule that California’s marriage laws the voters approved are somehow akin to racial discrimination”. Kurtz concentrates on the analysis of various sociological studies, related to gay marriage debate; he is very sharp saying that “whatever the old expectations of marriage and family, individuals increasingly make up their own rules” (Kurtz).
We have already moved from the traditional understanding of having a child after being married; we can easily have a child without it. Thus, why do we remain so intolerant towards moving away from traditional understanding of marriage as the union of a man and a woman? We have single-parent families, we have families without children, but same-sex families are still a problem. The information from various websites sheds the light onto the major gay marriage controversies, turning Canada (Institute for Study Marriage, Law and Culture) and California (Leff & Fehd) into the two brightest examples of a new marriage vision at the state level.
Marriage is a social institution that frequently appears under the impact of state and federal laws. These laws and cultural traditions determine the principles of marriage as a union between a man and woman, without any right for exception. Before the end of the 1960s, interracial couples faced similar situations: interracial marriages were prohibited by state laws, and family as a social institution was grounded on the unity between a man and a woman of ONE RACE. The case of Loving v. Virginia has turned the situation into a different direction, and interracial marriages are no longer illegal (Supreme Court of the United States).
In case with gay marriages, family is the instrument for determining gender roles within particular society. Frequently, it distorts the required gender balance between the two partners in a family union; as we are trying to move to a new stage of societal development, we are taken back by our reluctance (or inability) to recognize the fact that the notion of family has already been transformed. Regardless whether we accept or reject gay marriages, they will exist as a new form of a family union, based on sensual, sexual, economic, cultural, and social relationships between the two partners.
Conclusion Family is a social institution. Currently, we find ourselves at the stage of the societal development, when traditional notion of family is being transformed. Gay marriages face firm opposition but also serve an effective social force that drives the public opinion towards accepting same-sex couples. To recognize the existence and legal (social) rights of same-sex partners will mean to move to a new phase of progressive development, under which various forms of family structure have the right to exist.
Works Cited Anonymous. 2004. “The Road to Gay Marriage. ” 2004.The New York Times. 26 June 2008. http://query. nytimes. com/gst/fullpage. html? res=9C07E3DD1E3FF934A35750C0A9629C8B63 Institute for the Study of Marriage, Law and Culture. “Marriage: Issues and Debates. ” 2005. Institute for the Study of Marriage, Law and Culture. 26 June 2008. http://www. marriageinstitute. ca/pages/issues. htm Kurtz, S. “Zombie Killers. Queering the Social. ” 2006. National Review Online. 26 June 2008. http://article. nationalreview. com/? q=MTU4NDEzNTY5ODNmOWU4M2Y1MGIwMTcyODdjZGQxOTk= Leff, L. & Fehd, A. “Both Sides in Marriage Fight Aim for Mainstream. ” 2008.