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Published: Tuesday 29th of October 2013
Marriage is a socially or legally recognized union between two persons. As an institution, it defines the relationship between spouses. Although offering a model of living that is quite universal, in its particularities, it varies across cultures and changes through history continually adapting to the evolution of human society. As a legal contract, marriage can, or at least it should be entered by two individuals regardless of their gender or sexual preferences. It assures spouses’ legal rights which include filing taxes together, inheriting from one another, being granted hospital visitation rights and power of attorney, etc. A marital union also provides a support system and allows spouses fulfilling their psychological needs, expressing affection and devotion to one another. The issue of allowing same-sex couples to enjoy the same marital benefits as opposite-sex couples is a matter of ongoing debate in the United States and worldwide. Instead of asking ourselves why this should be done, it would be more appropriate to think of reasons why it should not. Why individuals of the same sex who commit to each other should not have equal rights and same legal status as heterosexual married couples? No valid reasons can be found for pursuing a course of action which implies discrimination based on any grounds, let alone sexual preferences. Conversely, there are strong social, psychological, economic and political justifications for legalizing same-sex marriages. Doing so will improve our society; make it more fair and nondiscriminatory by ensuring that all its citizens can enjoy equal opportunities.
In today’s economy, life has not been easy. People have been losing their jobs and having a hard time providing for their families. Weddings are events that involve a lot of planning and contracting the services of numerous small businesses and individuals, such as caterers, stylists, florists, musicians, etc. Large halls are leased and decorated to please the happy couple and their guests. Needless to say, that this generates a substantial income for all those involved in rendering any service required. The costs of an average wedding go from $25,000 upwards. If we consider that there are over half a million same-sex couples in the US, it is not hard to calculate the possible income their marriage ceremonies would generate. Choosing not to be bigoted and overly conservative as to reserve the marriage institution for heterosexual couples only and extending the opportunity to gay couples as well, would actually be in the best economic interest.
A significant, and ever rising, number of countries worldwide have already recognized same-sex marriage. The list includes Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Belgium, and even countries with strong religious traditions such as Spain, Brazil, and Columbia. As for the US, legalization of same-sex marriages has still not been accomplished nationwide, but several states have already passed and effected legislation that regulates this issue. Nowadays, public opinion is inclined to reject any form of discrimination, which denying marital rights to same-sex partners clearly is. Therefore, legalization of gay marriages could also be considered a politically correct thing to do.
The existence of racial discrimination and failure to eradicate racial prejudice which remain stable in the American population long after slavery was abolished, and all citizens were granted equal rights according to the Constitution, damages the reputation of the US as a democratic country. By legalizing same-sex marriages, America would make a step in the right direction towards becoming a society based on modern-day values of equality and fairness for all.
The commitment to establishing a fair and equal society is not only a responsibility assumed by the international community. It is an obligation taken on by all individual countries whose societies are built on democratic principles. The US Constitution states that all men are created equal and as such have the right to live, be free, and pursue happiness in life in whatever way they see fit. Applying the Constitution to LGBTQ people rights would mean granting same-sex couples the right to wed legally, which is an opportunity heterosexual couples have had for ages. A progressive and open-minded society is the one allowing all its citizens, regardless of their sexual orientation, to express their love and devotion to each other in an open and socially acceptable way, including signing a legally binding contract, such as marriage.
However, there is still substantial opposition to legalization of same-sex marriages in today’s society. Those against allowing equal marital rights to same-sex couples argue that marriage should remain an institution based on procreation and continuation of the human race. If we choose to view marriage in such a narrow and conservative way, it is clear that same-sex relationships do not fulfill these criteria. It would supposedly weaken the institution of marriage itself. However, those regarding same-sex unions as possibly eroding traditional marriage values should bear in mind that prohibiting same-sex couples from legally marrying would neither increase the number of heterosexual marriages nor would it boost procreation levels among heterosexual couples. Suggesting that relationship of two people, committed to one another in marriage, would have any bearing on other people’s marriages defies logic. What detrimental effect is it supposed to exert anyway? And why stop there? Is it wrong to allow interracial marriages because they could pose a bad example for others? State-sanctioned bigotry engenders all prejudice and possibly even instigates hate crimes to be committed. Intolerance and non-acceptance come in all shapes and sizes, and they are all equally unacceptable themselves.
Same-sex marriages actually do not differ from opposite-sex marriages in any fundamental dimensions. Same-sex romantic partners create families with either their biological children or adopted ones, which have proven to be loving and nurturing environments for all those involved. When a child gets raised by two people, other than his or her biological parents, it is not at all to the child’s disadvantage. The child will not necessarily grow up to be non-heterosexual merely because it was raised by non-heterosexuals. Most gay individuals were in fact raised by heterosexual parents. Sexual preferences are neither genetically transmitted nor acquired in families. They represent a much more complicated issue than these simplistic claims would want us to believe. Children placed in foster care would indeed be better off living with a loving same-sex couple than be left to the social system’s mercy. What children need for thriving is a safe and nurturing environment offering affection and support. The actual gender of those providing these requirements is only of a minor significance.
If two people are determined to commit to each other and live their lives as a married couple, it is morally unjust to deny them this right. Not everyone is on board with this statement. Especially those who are profoundly religious tend to oppose same-sex marriages. They believe that God would not approve this practice. They find heterosexual marriages to be somehow superior to non-heterosexual ones. There is no substantial argument whatsoever to support these claims. If we choose to adhere to religious teachings in all strictness, then divorce should be illegal as well. It is most definitely not what God wanted us to do. In fact, if we consult the Bible, we will soon realize that Jesus never even discussed same-sex marriages. On the contrary, he had a lot to say against divorce. However, divorce is perfectly legal in most countries. Does this mean that we can choose to follow only those biblical rules that are convenient for us? Or that LGBTQ people should be the only ones respecting the religious doctrine to the letter? In secular societies, the division of church and state is guaranteed. Therefore, church should not have a decisive say in legal matters.
To make things more personal, imagine, if you will, a playground in the park. Perfectly happy children, boys and girls of all kinds of ethnic backgrounds all playing together and enjoying themselves under the watchful eye of their parents. Some of the parents are same-sex couples. No one is surprised at the scene of a child calling both of his or her parents mom or both of them dad. It is entirely reasonable and acceptable. The child does not feel any different from other children, nor do the parents. They are all equally dedicated to their children and provide them with love and support. Well, this is a scene that would become quite normal in the society that acknowledges same-sex marriage to be as legal as opposite-sex marriage. The society of accepting individuals respecting the choices of others and not imposing their value systems on other people is the goal for which America should strive. It would create a world of equal opportunities for all and ensure peaceful coexistence of all people irrespective of their race, religion or indeed their sexual preferences.