The institution of marriage

The institution of marriage has been challenged through the years and one that seems to threaten its existence is the passage of laws allowing same sex marriages. This is the argument set forth by Jeff Jacoby’s in his article on gay’s impact on marriage and family. Jacoby presents the arguments cited by several political figures as reported in a popular news magazine which states support for same sex marriages. The issues raised was that for the past years there was no significant research that could identify the disadvantages and effects of same sex marriages to the traditional institution of marriage and family, despite the many debates and academic discourse in the topic as well as a lot of social reaction; until now have not succinctly explained just how it affects marriage and family life. Jacoby countered that even if there are no empirical evidence or support against same sex marriages, it nonetheless still affects marriage and family life in the most ominous way. The views raised by Jacoby in arguing against same sex marriages include the observation that marriages have existed as a way of promoting and regulating the union of the two sexes which is also the best environment for rearing children. And same sex marriages threaten the exclusivity and basic function of marriages which will ultimately lead to the demise of marriage and the basic institution of family.

The freedom to build a long lasting relationship with a lover whether of the same sex or not and one that is recognized by society and the law is idealistic and may become a reality in the near future. At present more and more cultures have been open to this social change and have embraced it with complications and difficulties that are expected of any social change. European countries have been the first to recognize same sex unions and so far have been able to integrate these couples into mainstream society and positive changes with regards to the stigma and social prejudice “normal” couples may have of them (IGLHRC, 2003). In the country, more and more states have supported same sex marriages and are gaining in-roads to the basic rights and privileges afforded them as civil rights of married people. There has been strong opposition for same sex marriages in the country because it threatens the normative view of marriage (Cahill, 2004), and yet one cannot reconcile it with the many forms and types of family set-up that have evolved through the years due to the normative marriage patterns and the effects of divorce. Same sex marriages also question the fundamental function of marriage as a union of man and woman, Jacoby argues that it is this function that is the most important, if marriage cease to mean a union of man and woman, then marriage also ceases to exist. It can however also be argued that marriage is more than the union of man and woman, that marriage is a bond made by two individuals and the state to be recognized as a lawful contract, and that two people committed towards each other should be given the opportunity to exercise that right.

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The normative man and woman marriage is not an assurance that they will be able to provide the best environment for child rearing when so many marriages end up in divorce and children become more disadvantaged. A child will thrive and become a fully functioning individual if he/she is reared in a family that is filled with love and respect regardless of the sex of their parents. It is the quality of home life that contributes to the well being of a child, moreover same sex marriages train children to become more resilient and respectful of other people.  Moreover, it has been said that no gay couple can be a hundred percent homosexual and that sexual preferences usually exist in a continuum and that one of the partners may go back to being heterosexual, thus marriage would become more of a complication than a right. However, this argument does not consider that it could also happen to heterosexual marriages (Cantor, 2006). It can be observed that a number of couples separated because a husband or wife turned out to be gay and is even recognized as a valid reason for divorce and yet the legalities of the original union is not questioned when the effect of a partner being gay or straight would be similar to each thus the differential treatment of each could be just a function of traditional views of marriage than a valid argument.

Same sex marriages will gain more impetus in the years to come just like divorce, single parent families, working parents and other changes that have impacted on the basic family system and people should be prepared for that. Jacoby’s may be right in his arguments that marriage should be for man and woman only, but one cannot escape from the reality that gay couples are becoming more open with their relationship and as a country that values human rights and respect for individual differences we should recognize same sex marriages and not oppose it.1