Gay Marriage: Social Implications
There has been much controversy on the subject of gay marriage for a long time, and in several different areas. There has been conflict in the educational, the legal (governmental rights), and the religious aspects, among others. Amidst all the confusion and chaos that comes from the usually rather passionate opinions on this issue, the question that seriously needs to be considered is this: How would legalizing gay marriage ultimately affect American society as a whole? One of the most common arguments opposing same-sex marriage is that it would weaken the definition and respect for the institution of marriage. It seems that the understood definition of the word “marriage” explicitly uses the phrase “between a man and a woman.” But 50% of first marriages, 67% of second, and 74% of third marriages end in divorce (US-Divorce, n.d.). Doesn’t this harm the sanctity of marriage? Furthermore, the word “marriage” can also be defined as “a lifelong publicly accountable relationship.” This can be applied to any two people, no matter their gender, race, or anything else. Another argument that is frequently used against gay marriage is the fact that gay couples can’t naturally pro-create, and marriage is for raising children. This claim is a stretch by itself; there are thousands of married heterosexual couples that either aren’t able or choose not to have children. Also, gay couples are able to adopt children, giving them a stable home and family environment to grow in. One common concern of people against legalized gay marriage is also the educational aspect of it. If our children are taught from the beginning that there is no difference between heterosexual marriage and homosexual marriage, couldn’t that confuse them? Not according to Professor Michael King of the Royal College of Psychiatrists (2007): “It would appear that sexual orientation is biological in nature, determined by a complex interplay of genetic factors and the early uterine environment. Sexual orientation is therefore not a choice” (p. 2). Children would only become educated about the subject; they wouldn’t be “converted.” In addition to the educational concern, some people are worried about children being raised by a gay or lesbian couple, believing that these influential figures in the child’s life might cause the child to become gay or lesbian. But “the available evidence indicates that the vast majority of lesbian and gay adults were raised by heterosexual parents and the vast majority of children raised by lesbian and gay parents eventually grow up to be heterosexual” (Chaudhury, 2007). Again, sexual orientation is innate, not caused by early childhood environment, choice, or anything else. Putting aside all the direct arguments for and against gay marriage, there are several ways that gay marriage would unequivocally benefit society. First, according to a study done at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, the suicide rate among homosexual females was 6% higher than heterosexual females, and the suicide rate among homosexual males was 24% higher than heterosexual males (Remafedi, French, Story, Resnick, and Blum, 1998). Why was this? Is it possible that, if homosexuals are given the recognition and respect that others are given by receiving the right to be married, these shocking numbers might go down? And wouldn’t this certainly serve to benefit American society? Legalizing gay marriage would also be encouraging a healthier lifestyle for homosexuals. Some could even argue that denying them the right to settle down and begin a stable home and family with respect would be promoting a more promiscuous way of life. With recognized gay marriage, a homosexual couple is given the opportunity to create a home and start building for the future like any other couple. They would most likely begin supporting schools and the community in general, again only benefiting society. Dr. Laura Schlessinger (2009) notes, “That two...
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