Gay sex marriage is the most conflicting issue in the contemporary social world. The opponents of the single-sex marriage propagate that gay marriage is harmful socially and morally whereas its proponents are of the view that gay marriage is an individual right that brings no harm to the society. This paper explores the both viewpoints in the social, religious and historical perspective and will demonstrate that homosexual/gay marriages do not harm the basic societal good and but instead augments the social bonds between individuals and hence it should be legalized. Introduction:
Conventional view of marriage holds that marriage is not only a summation of two spouses but it is an all-encompassing phenomenon that includes social, cultural, moral and legal aspects. Marriage is developed as a social “patronaged” and culturally patterned institution that is much more that an intimate personal relationship as it has assimilated and incorporated itself with other social institutes. But its basics remain a variety of close associations between spouses. Marriage is an important institution as it provides an organized framework to the lives of the spouses and capacitates them with a purposeful life.
Since the last half of the 20th century , nature and purpose of marriage have been challenged by different sections of the society and challenged the tenet that marriage is and should be entirely heterosexual. This segment of the community circulated the notions that marriage has nothing to do with heterosexuality and it is exclusively superfluous religious and legal fiction. They further propagated that different other dimension of the marriages i. e. gay marriage, should not be sacrificed at the altar of conventional religious morality.
Generally, this change in the thought process of society compelled these segments of the society to indulge in gay marriages. However this phenomenon was unable to gain the legal sanction and social endorsement. In the last decade of the last century, they were able to get the legal recognition in many countries. Opponents’ view on Gay Marriage: The proponents of heterosexual marriage base their arguments on the religious, social and historical fact. (Dent, 1999; Reid, 2005)They are of the view that marriage is a social and religious bond between a man and woman.
They provide biblical references that marriage as an institution is an association of one man and one woman. Furthermore Christianity is against gay and lesbian relationship and considers it immoral and unethical. In some cases has ordered to outcast the convicts of such crimes. In Christianity, marriage is considered a holy and sacred obligation since the Wedding at Cana (John 2:1-11). So it was considered a vital activity since the time of Jesus as a legitimate and sacred sexual relationship between man and woman.
Several legal court decisions and constitutional codes also include the same definition of marriage. Prof Eskridge (1993) provides a crux of the arguments of the opponents of the gay marriages by saying; “Marriage, they say, must involve a man and a women because (1) this is the definitional essence of the marriage (2) the Judeo-Christian tradition requires it and/or (3) the modern Western nation-state has structured society around the assumption that only different-sex marital unions are allowed.
” They further say that on one hand it capacitates men to achieve their moral and personal discipline that is a pre-requisite to achieve success in life; it also enabled them to live a stable and balanced domestic life. On the other hand it facilitates the married women gain a protected and stable social status, acknowledgment of protection and economic provision of their children. Apart from these two parties i. e. men and women, a third party gets involved at a later stage of marriage.
This party is children that are ultimate outcome of marriage. Marriage provides a conducive family environment for the rearing of children. The provision of this milieu is a seedbed of sociability and an initial cradle for learning for the young ones. In a more specific way, family contributes toward the psychological development of young ones by providing answers to the questions regarding their biological and psychological origins, identity.
As answers to these questions enable them to understand their purpose of life as well as connect them to both a mother and father. It also establishes a feasible structure of love that is a mandatory requirement for their social development and psychological growth and anchors their identity as they learn to move about the larger world. This clear microcosmic view capacitates them to have a broad and clear view of macrocosmic world and socialize them in a way that they can be productive and effective to the overall society.
A research study “Why Marriages Matters: Twenty-One Conclusion from the Social Sciences” by twelve scholars have tried to summarize the positive effects of marriage through analyzing research literature and found that “Marriage is an important social good associated with an impressively broad array of positive outcomes for children and adults alike… [W]hether American society succeeds or fails in building a healthy marriage culture is clearly a matter of legitimate public concern.
” [Doherty, William J. et al. , 2002] These arguments against gay marriages derives their strength from variety of sources i. e. social, cultural, religious and moral and says that none of these aspects of life allows gay marriages. Refutation of the arguments propagated by opponents of gay marriages: The proponents of gay marriages refute all the above-mentioned arguments and consider them a mockery of historical facts and constitutional rights of the individuals. (Patterson, 2001; Eskridge, 1996 etc.
)The basic precept for the opposition of gay marriages is based on the assumption that marriage is a bond between one man and one woman. If we look at the ultimate objective of the marriage, we will find that it is the personal intimacy and emotional affiliation between the spouses. The proponents of gay-marriage say that as marriages regulates the human propensities and checks the unrestrained longings and desires. So it is the longing in either spouse of the gay couple to feel attracted toward the other. So by allowing gay marriage, this longing can be regulated properly.
Additionally, gay marriage is not a matter of personal choice as adversaries of the single sex marriage consider that men indulging in gay can opt to heterosexual marriages if they want to. But this is not so simple a phenomenon as Scott Bidstrup says; “Many of the reasons offered for opposing gay marriage are based on the assumption that gays have a choice in who they can feel attracted to, and the reality is quite different. Many people actually believe that gays could simply choose to be heterosexual if they wished.
But the reality is that very few do have a choice -- any more than very few heterosexuals could choose which sex to find themselves attracted to. ”(Gay Marriage: The Arguments and the Motives) Mostly opposition of gay marriage is based in the religious traditions that denounce any type of gay relationship. But if one does not believe in the religion or at least its definition of marriage then why it should follow its precepts. Moreover, the propaganda that homosexuality is nothing except the lust for sex. In reality, homosexuality is much more than mere indulgence in sex.
It is a manifestation of mutual love and attraction toward someone. Historically, gay marriage is a primitive phenomenon that was recognized socially and stately in various parts of the world. Prof Eskridge is his well researched work “A history of Gay marriage” (1993) provides various historical facts that proves the above-mentioned assumption. Foe example, he illustrates that in ancient Egyptian society, gay marriages was acceptable “at some points in its history”. (p. 20) He provides example from certain archaeological remains like “tomb of two male courtiers of the fifth dynasty (circa 2600 B.
C. ) includes bas-beliefs of the “two men in intimate poses””. He further quotes the views of social historian David Greenberg to affirm his point of view about gay marriage that “gay relationship was accepted by the state, because Pharaoh provided their tomb”. (p. 21) He again cites David Greenberg to explore the state recognition of gay relationship in the ancient civilization of Mesopotamia where “Mesopotamian monarch, notably King Zimri-Lim of Mari and King Hammurabi of Babylon, had male lovers akin to wives”. (p.
22) He further suggests hat although earlier laws of Mesopotamia regulates the action of sexual indulgence and marriages but it has no connotations toward disapproval or prohibition of gay relationship. Eskridge further supports his argument about the primitiveness of gay marriages by providing example from “Classical Greece and Pre-Christian Rome”. These arguments forwarded by Professor Eskridge clearly negate the assumptions of the opponents of gay marriages that heterosexual marriages are the absolute form of marriage since the ancient time.
The second arguments against the single-sex marriages stems from the special benefits of the heterosexual marriage and the basic tenet of this assumption is that gay marriages are unable to provide a conducive environment to the children for their social and psychological development. The supporters of the gay negate this assumption and say that; “[C]hildren will be benefited by being brought up in a stable and nurturing home even if they are not biologically related to both of the individuals raising them, for example, because the children were adopted or because they were a product of a previous marriage.
Concern for the next generation militates in favor of affording legal recognition to couples (seeking that recognition) who are raising children, whether or not the children are biologically related to both adults and whether or not the adults are of different sexes. (Strasser, 2003) So Strasser manifest that conducive home environment is the ultimate necessity for the children to be socialized properly. So the assumption that single-sex marriages will harm the parenting and child rearing activities that are often attributed as the prime functions of marriage is based of fictitious fears and fictional grounds.
Case for Gay marriages: Besides refuting conventional views on gay marriages, there is a strong case for single sex marriages that is based on ground realities and the socio-cultural changes over the past few decades. The foremost argument is the changed conception and perception of marriage. Over the past few decades, marriage has been evolved as essential as “emotional intimacy” rather than an institution for child procreation and rearing. This new conception of marriage gives strength to gay marriages.
But this point of view sustains that phenomenon that Marriage is the ultimate amalgam of married couple and social norms are established to make this couple distinct from others. It further reinforces the idea that social norms about the marriage are the pre-requisites of the society and its needs. This makes the gay case stronger as the changed perception of marriage has engulfed these extra-individual manifestations of marriage and now it is merely a bond between two persons Now the question arises that why this gay marriage should be sanctioned as legal marriage. Prof.
Eskridge is of the view that a large part of contemporary compensation package and fringe benefits available to the workers and employees contains the provision that these benefits are also available to the workers’ legal spouse. So this has augmented the financial rewards of a legal marriage. (Eskridge, 1996) So denial of a legal status means the loss of financial benefits to the spouses of gay marriages. Prof. Eskridge has further noted fifteen others benefits of legalizing the gay marriage (pp. 66-70) in his illustrious work “The Case for Same Sex Marriage: From Sexual Liberty to Civilized Commitment”.
Legal opposition to the gay marriages does not flow from any logical and constitutional opposition as U. S. constitution provides complete independence of individuals’ acts. In a decision, a federal court has attributed this legal opposition to the traditional definitional obstacles of marriages that has its roots in the Judeo-Christian morality. This clearly manifest that legal opposition was based on the Judeo-Christian tradition and it has nothing to do with the constitutional rights of the individuals.
So an attempt must e made by the constitution making authorities to put in place a law based on individuals rights instead of fictitious religious traditions. Furthermore, the interpreting authority i. e. the U. S. Supreme Court must interpret the laws in the light of constitutional provision instead of obsolete civil law derived from religious beliefs. So gay marriages do not harm the basic foundation of socio-cultural life and they should be sanctioned as legal and lawful partnership like heterosexual marriages.
References Bidstrup, Scott. Gay Marriage: The Arguments and the Motive. Retrieved on 7 Febrauary, 2007 from http://www. bidstrup. com/marriage. htm Dent, George W. Jr. , "The Defense of Traditional Marriage," The Journal of Law and Politics, 15:581-644 (Fall 1999) Eskridge, William N. , Jr. , A history of Gay Marriage. Virginia Law Review. Vol. 79. No. 7. Symposium on Sexual Orientation and The Law. (Oct. 1993) 1419- 1513. Eskridge, William N. , Jr. , The Case for Gay Marriage: from Sexual Liberty to Civilized Commitment.
New York: Free Press. 1996. Patterson, Charlotte J. , "Gay Marriage and the Interests of Children... ," Virginia Journal of Social Policy & Law, 9:345-351 (2001) Reid, Eric, "Assessing and Responding to Gay "Marriage" in Light of Natural Law," Georgetown Journal of Law & Public Policy, 3:523-539 (2005) Strasser, Mark. The Logical Case for Gay Marriage: A Response to Professor John Witte, Jr. in Marriage and Gay Unions: A Debate by David Orgon Coolidge, William C. Duncan, Mark Strasser, Lynn D. Wardle; Praeger, 2003.