“Ladies and gentleman, we are gathered here today to witness Adam and Steve in the bonds of holy matrimony.” In modern society this topic is a never ending battle. Between government officials and religious beliefs and teachings there is never a shortage of reasons why some think that homosexual marriage is immoral and unnatural. However to some it as a natural occurrence between two attracted individuals. Either opinion relies on the individual’s own definition of the word normal. Many of America’s government officials such as George W. Bush are strongly against gay marriage. They believe that the sole purpose for the marriage of a man and a woman is a means of procreation and establishing a family union which is the basis of building a stable society. By recognizing the right of the same sex marriage would bring to big of a shift in the fundamental definition of the word “marriage.”
So, as to not discriminate against homosexual peoples the Domestic Partnership Law came into place. This law was developed to give limited rights to same sex couples without denying them their constitutional rights.
Gay Marriage: the Dilemma
The modern society currently faces a never-ending debate on whether gay marriages should be an acceptable part of society. The argument revolves around the immorality and unnatural nature of homosexual marriages as seen through arguments forwarded by government officials and supported by religious beliefs and teachings. In opposition, some individuals argue that homosexual marriage is a natural occurrence between two individuals attracted to each other. Despite the basic argument, each opinion relies on the advocate’s definition of normal.
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In opposition to gay marriage, government officials argue that marriage should be an institution formed between a man and woman for procreation and establishing a family with the intention of building a stable society (Prager, 2004). This means that if the government were to recognize gay marriages, it would redefine the fundamental understanding of marriage. The case for marriage being for procreation is shared among both government and non-government that believe it is through marriage that children are born and raised to be moral social beings.
As presented by Schiffren (1996), the society is a blend of cultures and traditions presented through the family, which starts with marriage where a couples shares love and has children. The children learn the cultural values and traditions as part of their upbringing. This argument denotes that gay marriages do not offer an opportunity for procreation, and may be harmful to children when the couple either adopts or has a child. In a gay marriage children are deprived either a mother or a father, which means children grow without the love and care of the deprived parent or the cultural values that would have been impacted by the missing parent (Prager, 2004; American Family Association, 2005). Agreeably, the child in a gay marriage will have two mothers or two fathers, but he or she will be deprived the right to have the other parent because of selfishness by the gay couple that seeks to have a family outside the norm.
To solidify the anti-gay position, the U.S. government has passed various legislatures
such as the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) passed in 1996 during Bill Clinton’s tenure. The law denotes that no state needs to recognize marriage union between people of the same sex even when conducted in another state that recognizes the marriage (Kholer, 1996). The legislation continues to indicate that the government does not need to recognize same sex marriage or polygamous marriage. DOMA developed in response to fear by some states that they would have to recognize same sex marriages conducted in Massachusetts, which had recognized gay unions.
With the passage of the bill, twelve states banned all forms of gay marriages including those conducted as civil unions or domestic partnerships, and twenty states constructed a similar law, while other twenty-six states adopted constitutional amendments banning gay marriages.
The passage of DOMA may have been in contravention of the Full Faith and Credit clause that mandates states to respect and enforce judicial rulings from other states, a case that applies to court orders, recognition of legal status, taxation, and spousal and child support (Kholer, 1996). However, as the Supreme Court argues states may make exceptions to the clause, as has been the case in firearm control, employment discrimination, and disability rulings.
Nevertheless, a few compromises have been made such as through the Domestic
Partnership Law adopted in California that came into effect to ensure homosexual people did not suffer discrimination. The law offers limited rights to same couples as part of their constitutional rights by defining their relationship as a domestic partnership. A domestic partnership is recognized as a legal or personal relationship between two individuals living together and sharing a common domestic life though not joined by traditional marriage (Pawelski et al, 2006).
The domestic law provides benefits relating to adoptions, dental and medical insurance, dependent life insurance, and rights to a partner’s property in case of death. Other states have provided for gay couples through a civil unions policy such as Hawaii, Maine, New Jersey, Connecticut and Vermont, recognizing a gay marriage but without the benefit of a title.
Other opponents to gay marriages are religious groups such as Roman Catholics that base their opposition on the teachings of Christianity, an issue also shared by government officials opposing the marriage. According to the Christian faith, a man shall marry only a man as stated in the bible, and any marriage related union between two men or two women is unacceptable (American Family Association, 2005). The faith case also underlines that God created marriage as a union to facilitate procreation, a factor that raises one of the questions raised by supporters of gay marriages that whether people unable to procreate should not get married or should not have sexual intercourse (Sterling, 2004). Despite this question, the opponents hold that gay marriages cannot lead to procreation, making them immoral as well as unnatural though different views of what is natural and moral may abide.
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The definition of natural is something accepted and considered ordinary, while unnatural refers to things that deviate from the norm (Corvino, 1997). In the contemporary society, gay unions are publicized as unnatural despite their being a common part of daily life. For example, in most television shows and movies, gay characters are emerging as central characters, sometimes portrayed as showing affection such as kissing. The media has especially been instrumental in creating doubts concerning the unnaturalness of homosexuality making it difficult to discuss the social effects of gay marriage and leading to an almost social acceptance (Kurtz, 2003). Within this setting, proponents of gay marriages wonder why they are considered unnatural. Furthermore, some argue that gay attraction is a normal part of life in similar fashion to heterosexual attraction. The notion is that the way heterosexual people are born heterosexual and are attracted to the opposite sex, so are homosexuals born homosexual and attracted to same sex persons. Therefore, homosexuality could be viewed as a natural reaction to one’s sexuality and the society learn to deal with the issue instead of demonizing.
Following this train, the Church should change its definition of natural by reinterpreting doctrine and accepting new information and becoming more open minded about emerging ideologies such as homosexuality. Furthermore, even some churches have adopted the viewpoint such as the Episcopalian church that now openly ordains gay Bishops (Public Agenda for Citizens, 2010). The Christian doctrine stands on the ground that God loves and accepts anyone, irrespective of their sins; therefore, on the same principle, homosexual people that may deviate from the classical normal are acceptable to God. However, to accept the argument the church may need to reconstruct some of the basic believes such as those indicating marriage to be between a man and woman.
In my personal opinion, I think the government is unjustified in its handling of the gay marriage issue in that denies a person the ability to be free in a land considered free and home to opportunities. Within a free country, people should have the freedom to express their sexuality as gay or heterosexual and not dictated to be heterosexual. Further, marriage should not be defined as only a union between man and woman, but between two people willing to live together and share the joys and sorrows that come with marriage. Unfortunately, only few states have accepted this definition and made laws to that effect such as California; nonetheless, even those without respective laws should respect gay unions from other states in accordance with the full faith and credit clause and the Supreme Court should protect this clause instead of affording states loopholes. Currently, the government is afraid that allowing for gay marriages will corrupt the society, ruin children and families, and the possible social change that may occur due to giving homosexuals their rights (Schulman, 2009). Instead of holding on to this fear, gay people should be afforded the opportunity to live with each other legally and enjoy the associated benefits as heterosexual couples for only their lives are likely to change.
Further, the church has been too harsh on the homosexuals considering them as unnatural; instead, they should embrace them and offer them God’s love a concept taught throughout Christianity, such as I learnt in Catholic School. God accepts anyone willing to come to Him despite his or her faults. Furthermore, even the church has gay priests, so it would be fit to have gay followers, the same way there are heterosexual priests and followers. Agreeably, allowing gay followers is unlikely to benefit the church, but neither is denying them. Therefore, the same way the church is willing to accept people with a multitude of sins including those from genocidal Nazi; it can accept people with a different sexuality such as homosexuality.
In conclusion, gay people have the right to decide for themselves how they wish to live without political or religious influences. Whichever way they choose, whether to get married or be joined in a civil union should be acceptable without any occurring discrimination. A revolution towards accepting this attitude is already occurring in the media as television shows include gay people and air their relationships; however, this should not only stop with the media but be accepted across generations and social groups. Noting the current trend, especially among the younger generation, which is more accepting, the American society may come to accept homosexuals as it has accepted those with heterosexual tendencies.
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