Same-Sex Marriage Term Paper

Pages: 10 (3353 words)  ·  Style: APA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 8  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Women's Issues - Sexuality

¶ … same-sex marriage. Specifically, it will discuss if same-sex marriage is a threat to family and national values, including who is threatened and why they feel threatened. Same-sex marriage is a contentious issue facing the states today. Some states have sanctioned same-sex marriages, while others have passed laws stating marriage must occur between a "man and woman" only. In a nation that prides itself on tolerance and democracy, banning same-sex marriages is not only irrational, it is intolerant and biased. Same-sex marriages should be available for gay and lesbian couples, they should be able to celebrate their commitment and enjoy the benefits of marriage.

Marriage is one of the oldest unions known to humankind. It is a celebration of commitment, love, and sharing, and affords couples a vast number of legal and personal benefits. Marriage can be traditional, celebrated in a church, or non-traditional, celebrated on a beach in Hawaii. Couple exchange vows they have written themselves, or recite traditional vows read from a Bible. A group of authors writing on same-sex marriage note,

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Marriage is a known commodity, permitting couples to travel without playing 'now you're legally next of kin; now you're legally not.' It is a social statement, describing and defining one's relationships and place in society. It is also a personal statement of commitment that receives public support and can help achieve common aspirations for stability and structure in life. It has spiritual significance for many of us and familial significance for nearly all of us (Wardle, Strasser, Duncan, & Coolidge, 2003, p. 4).

Term Paper on Same-Sex Marriage. Specifically, it Will Discuss if Assignment

Nevertheless, in most states in America, there is one thing marriage is not. It is not available to same-sex couples who want to celebrate their own love and commitment. Two states, Hawaii and Vermont, have sanctioned same-sex unions, while others have not. Same-sex unions are extremely controversial, and many groups vehemently oppose them for "moral" or other reasons. One thing is certain. Same-sex marriage is not a new idea, and the issue will not simply disappear. Eventually, Americans are going to have to face the fact that same-sex unions are an integral part of the gay and lesbian lifestyle, and they should be legal.

Marriage is an ancient institution, and it has always been perceived as the "proper" thing for couples who love each other to do. Marriage celebrates love and commitment, and the desire to spend the rest of your life with one, and only one other. The institution of marriage has never suffered from a "bad" reputation. In the 1960s and 70s, many young people avoided marriage calling it "just a piece of paper." However, for the most part, marriage has always been a part of our society, and it always been a revered institution.

Today, marriage often means different things to different couples. There is more divorce in America than ever before, and single-parent families are on the rise. or, are they? There have been fluctuations in marriage and divorce throughout America's history. Another author notes, "In 1867 there were 9.6 marriages per 1,000 people. A hundred years later, in 1967, there were 9.7. The rate reached a low of 7.9 in 1932 and an all-time high of 16.4 in 1946, a peak quickly followed by a brief but huge surge in divorce" (Coontz, 1997, p. 30). Some of the nostalgia Americans may feel for the sacred institution of marriage, may be just that - nostalgia based on fond memories rather than concrete facts.

Many Americans tend to look back at the 1950s as the epitome of happily married life, with the perfectly dressed mother seeing the husband off to work, the children off to school, and happily managing the home, waiting only for their return. However, the 1940s and 50s had their share of problems, as well. Author Coontz states, "By 1946 one in every three marriages was ending in divorce. Even couples who stayed together went through rough times, as an acute housing shortage forced families to double up with relatives or friends. Tempers frayed and generational relations grew strained" (Coontz, 1997, p. 35). Nevertheless, most people were married in the 1950s, 86% of 1950s children grew up in two-parent households, and 90% of all households were families (Coontz, 1997, p. 37). Thus, marriage played a large role in society, and the unmarried were certainly the minority. Marriage has always had its difficulties, and it will continue to flow with changes in American society. However, there are many things testing marriages today, from two-parents working to support the family to many more single parents raising children on their own.

One of the arguments many same-sex partners face against their unions is the issue of having and raising children. In fact, in 1970, a Michigan court decreed that marriage was "a union of man and woman, uniquely involving the procreation and rearing of children'" (Hohengarten, 1994). Many people oppose same-sex marriage because the couple cannot biologically have children of their own. However, many same-sex couples do raise children, and it is an important part of their relationship. One author states, "About one-fourth of the 600,000 same-sex couples currently living together in the United States are raising children" (Pope, 2004). Some couples adopt children, others have surrogate children, and still others use the donor program to have a biological child with another person. All of these couples choose to raise children as part of their commitment, and thus, the argument that same-sex partners cannot raise children can and is being overcome every day. An attorney notes, "In other cases, neither same-sex partner may be a biological parent, but one may be a legal parent by virtue of adoption, and both may be functional parents" (Hohengarten, 1994). In addition, many marriages today are also childless by choice, and yet the partners are loving and committed. Thus, same-sex couples who remain childless are no different from any heterosexual couple who remains childless by choice. The argument that marriage exists solely for procreation seems outdated and irrational in a world where many couples straight or gay, choose not to have children.

Divorce has always been a problem in the country, but it seems to be more of a problem today. Many couples no longer expect to spend the rest of their lives with one person. Divorces are relatively simple to obtain, and they no longer carry the social or personal stigma they did even a few decades ago. As author Coontz continues, "Divorce rates in America rose steadily until World War II, fell briefly during the 1950s, and took off again during the late 1960s. The divorce rate crested near the end of the 1970s, leveled off in the 1980s, and very slightly receded from 1988 to 1993" (Coontz, 1997, p. 31). Today, divorce seems to be on the rise again, and Coontz also notes the average age of a marriage that ends in divorce is only 6.3 years (Coontz, 1997, p. 31). Thus, divorced couples are not giving their marriages a chance to grow and mature, they simply look for a way out when they encounter problems.

In many couples, there seems to be less of a commitment to each other and to the marriage in general, and this seems especially true in the instability and short lengths of many Hollywood marriages. These break-ups make the nightly news and seem to fascinate the rest of the population, but they indicate the lack of commitment that is common in many marriages today. Interestingly, at a time when many traditional couples face far more problems with commitment and marriage, more gay and lesbian couples are attempting to commit for a lifetime. More gay couples are celebrating their commitment to each other than ever before, and if they cannot do it legally, they still celebrate with commitment ceremonies, church "weddings," and ceremonies in states that allow these commitment exchanges. The traditional family may be losing ground in the 21st century, but non-traditional families are the norm now, and that includes same-sex couples in committed, loving relationships, raising families, and spending their lifetimes together.

Perceptions of and attitudes toward homosexuality today, from riots in the 1950s to "Ellen" and "Queer Eye"

Everywhere you go today, it seems gay people are coming out of the closet. They have their own television shows, they celebrate their homosexuality, and they are becoming more accepted by many facets of society. Another author notes, "Over the course of the last 40 years civil society has become more accepting of gay people. The sexual behavior of gay people is probably as diverse as is it among heterosexuals" (Pope, 2004). That has not always been the case.

The arguments against legitimizing same-sex marriage are often based on religious or moral grounds. One writer states, "Indeed, there are substantial indications that legalizing same-sex marriage would undermine some of the important social purposes for marriage and would ultimately harm society" (Wardle, 2001, p. 771). Wardle goes on to argue that legalizing same-sex unions would "devalue" the importance of marriage in our society, and that… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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