The Moral Permissibility of Same-Sex Marriage
Homosexuality has been a part of public consciousness in the United States for more than the past hundred years. Only recently has homosexuality been widely accepted as something other than a psychological disorder, but rather a trait (whether genetically or environmentally determined) which a person has the right to express. Some argue that homosexuals have a right to enter into legally recognized marriages with someone of the same sex. I tend to agree, and in this essay I will employ utilitarian and rights-based perspectives to illustrate why same-sex marriage is morally permissible and worthy of legalization.
If I am to prove that same-sex marriage is morally permissible, I must examine both parts of this concept: "same-sex" and "marriage." I will begin by discussing marriage. Many people feel that only couples with two members of opposite sex deserve the right to marry on the basis that marriage carries an intrinsic implication of heterosexual union with an emphasis on love and monogamy and an end goal of procreation and child rearing. This implication is valid, because it is a veritable definition of the custom of marriage throughout history from a religious perspective. However, in the United States, religion is separated from legal matters such as a person's right to enter into a recognized union with another person. Many people choose to affirm their commitment from a religious perspective by holding marriage ceremonies in a church, which are presided over by a religious official. The legal marriage ceremony is performed by a civil servant and is the only ceremony which can award a couple the legal rights that come with marriage. This implication also suggests that marriage is a means to produce children and raise them in a safe, loving environment. Child rearing is also not truly a part of marriage, as there is no legal provision of a marriage licensing encouraging or discouraging procreation. Child welfare laws do exist, but neither a marriage, nor a couple is required to raise a child.
Essentially, a marriage is legally no more than a union between two people which affords those people certain social, legal, and financial benefits. But, as the above implication illustrates, the idea of marriage also carries a lot of baggage in the eyes of western society. It seems to me that it is part of man's basest nature to cohabitate with other humans and raise children. In modern society, marriage is the best way to fulfill this nature, as it legally joins two people and affords them benefits if they choose to raise a family.
Now I will examine the "same-sex" element of same-sex marriage. Marriage has traditionally joined two people of opposite sex, although one does not have to be heterosexual to marry, but simply willing to join into a union with a person of opposite sex. In proposed same-sex marriages, two people of the same sex would be joined in the union of marriage. People entering into same-sex marriages would not necessarily be homosexuals, but one can safely assume that most people applying for these marriages would be homosexuals.
Many argue that homosexuality and homosexual relationships are intrinsically and instrumentally bad. If that is the case, then same-sex marriage, which would promote homosexual fidelity, is not morally permissible. Until recently, many states reinforced the notion that homosexual relations are bad through anti-sodomy laws. Much of the controversy concerning the morality of homosexuality is a distillation of the debate over whether homosexuality is genetically or environmentally determined. The fact that homosexuality has survived for centuries in spite of merciless persecution and oppression is proof enough that homosexuals are genetically predestined to be attracted to members of their own sex, and I will accept this proof as part of the basis for my argument. Thus, arguments that homosexuality is wrong...
Cited: "Coparent or Second-Parent Adoption by Same-Sex Parents." Pediatrics 109 (2002):
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