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Legalizing Gay Marriage Essay

2792 words - 12 pages

Same-sex marriage: The many sides of legalization

There is no doubt that the family is a vital social unit and that it is impressed with great social interest. For these two reasons alone, it is only justified that the preservation of families should be of paramount importance to the government. The government, therefore, must create laws and institute policies that will promote the welfare of families. It should see to it that families are kept away from all social evils that tend to destroy their foundation. At the heart of families, it is said, is the concept of marriage. If families are to be protected, it stands to reason that ...view middle of the document...

264). Where the U.S. Constitution is silent, state constitutions may step in to fill the void (Waite & Lehrer, 2003, p. 265). In effect, states have the implied authority to recognize or prohibit same-sex marriage depending on existing state laws.

Another point is that the concept of marriage is not solely confined to religious matrimonies. Indeed, the point of contention is not solely about marriages sanctified by any religious denomination but also by those marriages that are created by virtue of civil weddings. It is true that there are marriages through religious rites that are automatically recognized by the state as legal and binding. However, it is also true that there are marriages recognized by the state precisely because agents of the state such as the local mayor or judge have made the union official.

As a final point of clarification, it must be stressed that the heart of the issue rests on the very definition of marriage in most state laws. The conventional definition is that marriage is the union between a man and a woman. As long as that definition holds in a particular state, same-sex marriage remains impossible.

The public clamor for same-sex marriage

Proponents of same-sex marriage argue that it is the right of each person to pursue happiness in its many different forms. This right, like any other right, is guaranteed by the government. If attaining happiness includes marrying the person you love, the pursuit of happiness is said to necessarily include the right to marry, and to limit marriage as only between opposite sexes is to greatly limit this right (Simon & Gagnon, 2007, p. 180). The danger is that it is no longer a right. Rather, it is reduced into a privilege that is exclusive to those who subscribe to prevailing social norms. In the larger scheme, America is now a nation where gays and lesbians are unable to marry by virtue of their sexual orientation. It is as if the existing legal mechanisms deem it fit to indirectly punish gays and lesbians by depriving them of the opportunity to enter into marital life and, therefore, to realize their pursuit of their happiness (Simon & Gagnon, 2007, p. 181). On that ground, there are shades of gender discrimination. Is this form of discrimination justified in all levels?

At the policy level, the government treats marriage as an inviolable social institution governed and protected by laws. However, marriage as an inviolable social institution does not necessarily prevent its definition from being modified if the aim is to make it responsive to contemporary times. Laws may become antiquated, and there will come a time when they have to be changed to make them functional. There is no doubt that there is a public clamor to legalize same-sex marriage. Given this, if the apparent hindrance to same-sex marriages is the very legal definition of marriage, the solution is to redefine it. Instead of confining marriage between a man and a woman, it can be amended...

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