Nowadays, no other social issue evokes stronger opposition and more emotional argumentation of the proponents, but the problem of the necessity to legalize same sex marriages. This is a very multifaceted matter, which touches political, cultural, ethical, social and moral aspects of our life. Currently, in many countries of the world, including Spain, Holland, the UK, Germany, France, New Zealand, Uruguay, and some other ones, it is possible to formalize homosexual relationships in different legal forms: as marriages or civil unions.
That is why many Americans argue that same sex marriages must be legal not only in Massachusetts, but throughout the country as well. It is necessary to mention that the problem of same sex marriages is quite a hard issue for our society, because the majority of modern Americans are heterosexual and quite conservative. From this perspective, the problem of accepting same sex marriages contains a collision of two traditional moral judgments. The first one is social attitude toward the institutions of marriage and family. Historically, family life was, undoubtedly, a positive practice from cultural, social and moral standpoints.
Married people were always granted more privileges, had higher social status and could enjoy more social benefits. The second judgment is social attitude toward homosexuality. For very long time gay relationships were supposed to be something immoral, brutal and repulsive. That is why homosexual people are being oppressed and discriminated in many societies of the world. Therefore, for many modern people marriage symbolizes loyalty and responsibility, but, at the same time, homosexuality is a concept, connected rather with free love and self-indulgence.
That is why the idea of same sex marriages, which is still “.. a new and for many people revolutionary concept.. ”, is also a combination of two direct opposites: morality and immorality, loyalty and free love (Kusch 214). This is one of the central reasons why current massive opposition to legalization of same sex marriages is so fierce and emotional. The main argument of those, who oppose legalization of same sex relationships, is the idea that marriage is a strictly heterosexual institution.
They claim that marriage can be effective only in the case when one man and one woman want to become spouses. A famous foe of gay marriages William J. Bennett underlines, that the function of marriage is already fragile enough and “.. broadening its definition to include same-sex marriages would stretch it almost beyond recognition” (Bennett 288). Moreover, some people believe that legalization of same sex marriages will discredit the concept of family, affect social attitude toward marriage, and eventually decrease the stability of family institution.
This reason is fully based on the same stereotypes about immorality of homosexual relations and predisposition of homosexual people to free love or unconventional life-styles. It is a well-known fact that traditional definition of marriage has been developing in accordance with the necessities of the times. Therefore, now it is unfair and illogical to speculate about “traditions” in marriage, especially when talking about the issue of same sex marriages. We can learn from the Bible that the Hebrews used to have several wives or concubines.
Moreover, in some Muslim countries polygamy is still being practiced. Besides, it is known that for many centuries marriage was the prerogative of only noble people and the poor had no right to legalize their relationships. Finally, marriage used to be a subject of bargaining and an instrument for property reallocation. Moreover, less than a century ago interracial marriages were prohibited in the U. S. , but now it would be called ‘the highest level of discrimination’. Finally, for long time marriage was giving men the right to dominate and “possess” their wives like some type of property.
All these examples also point on “traditions” of marriage, which were practiced in our societies for centuries, but then were successfully abolished. So, what else but our stereotypes does not allow us to modify the definition of marriage again and include homosexual couples in this definition? Currently, the issue of same sex marriages is under serious discussion in many developed countries, and this fact can be considered as a sign that the existing definition of marriage does not correspond to our modern social needs.
Another important argument of the opponents of same sex marriages is an idea that procreation is the key duty of every individual, and in terms of same sex marriages it is impossible to fulfill this mission. Besides, since there are no traditional father and mother in this type of marriages, the opponents argue that homosexual families can not be a proper environment for rearing and educating children. A known antagonist of same sex marriages U. S. Senator Robert C. Byrd expressed this viewpoint as the following: “If same-sex marriage is accepted …
America will have said that children do not need a mother and a father, two mothers or two fathers will be just as good. This would be a catastrophe” (Walen 79). At that, such peole can hardly explain, why criminals or child abusers have the right to get married, but homosexual people who truly love and care about children do not. Certainly, a homosexual couple can not produce their own biological offspring, but having children is not the only reason for people to get married.
Marriage formalizes social relations and gives an opportunity to become formal partners in life, with all related rights and duties. Certainly, society must be interested in such formalization, not only because of its stabilizing effects, but also because of granting the right to spouses to support each other financially and emotionally in case of any problems. This way society shifts own responsibility to take care about every individual to the institution of family. From this perspective, marriage is not an agreement between two people, but it is an agreement between the couple and society.
That is why official marriage is very important. There is a great deal of other objections that the opponents of same sex marriages refer to. Some are convinced that legalization of gay marriages would result in claims to legalize other abnormal forms of relationships, such as polygamy. Besides, a great deal of the opponents of same sex marriages argues that legalization of gay relationships would sooner or later bring to certain discrimination between homosexual and traditional families.
Finally, another important reason is mentioned by Scott Bidsrtup in his article dedicated to the problems of same sex marriages: “Gay marriage would force churches to marry gay couples when they have a moral objection to doing so” (Bidsrup). Nevertheless, there is only one main reason behind all the arguments against legalization of same sex marriages. The majority of people simply feel uncomfortable about the idea that homosexual couples may be granted the right to get married and receive other civil and social rights.
Traditional values are still dominant in modern society and it always takes time to break free from stereotypes. Besides, expansion of the institution of marriage on homosexual couples would mean legal and social acceptance of homosexual people, as well as official recognition of their relationships. This is the main fear of the opponents of same sex marriages, as well as the main goal of the supporters. Generally, legalization of gay marriages will be significant in its consequences, and all of them seem to be positive and progressive from social perspective.
A new definition of marriage would change the attitude toward traditional gender roles, which already do not correspond to modern realities. Thus, all the issues related to divorce or receiving a joint custody would be solved from the positions of equality of the spouses. Besides, by legalizing same sex marriages, democratic governments would finally get rid of official discrimination of the minorities. Finally, such legalization can be considered an act of tolerance, which would have positive social influence, both on national and on global levels.