Same sex marriage involves union between people of the same sex, either legal or not. The issue has taken much center stage, generating controversies and outcries especially between the proponents, who regard it as a human right, and the protagonists who cite moral and religious teachings as a reason logical enough to regard the practice as inhuman. According to Storzer & Picarello (2006) religious bodies argue that any involvement in same sex marriage, by their believers, would be tantamount to renouncing the institutions core religious values. In spite of the controversies, same sex marriage has continued to flourish with some countries like the USA and Netherlands legalizing it while some religious bodies like the Anglican Church has gone ahead to anoint same sex couples as its priests. As a result, the supporters of the same sex marriage have been using the research findings that point out an increase in the practice to lobby the policy makers to argue their case in the hope of getting more support, public and social recognition and legal approval.
However, there have been a lot of legal issues that relate to the practice of same sex marriage, amongst them the definition of marriage in legal terms. According to Smith (2004) the term marriage as used in the US refers to union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, while the word spouse refers to a person of the opposite sex, either husband or wife. Smith (2004) gives an illustration to this controversy by citing an example of a 2001 case that involved the Gay Lesbian Advocates and Defenders and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. In the case, the court refused to acknowledge the claim that by denying people of the same sex marriage, the body violated the laws of the country, (Smith, 2004). In rejecting the application, the court cited the historical facts and purposes behind marriage and that same sex marriage is not in the legitimate interest of the state to encourage procreation. In some states however, the authorities have legalized same sex marriage, a practice which is openly carried out without any reprimand.
Several reasons have been advanced by the opponents of same sex marriage, some which relate to social, cultural, moral and religious issues. Somerville (2003) argues that marriage is a unique institution that not only acts as the fabric of the society but also helps to uphold the moral, cultural and social values of the society. As a result, the attempts to advocate for legalization of same sex marriage are reversionary tactics meant to change the definition of marriage (Somerville, 2003). According to Somerville (2003) marriage as it ought to be should be between a man and a woman mainly to ensure procreation to advance and protect human race, bonding, companionship and happiness.
On the other hand, the supporters of same sex marriage are of the opinion that the fundamental roles of marriage are the social and public recognition as well as the resultant intimacy that ensures social satisfaction, (Somerville, 2003). They further argue that every body is unique and free hence campaign against the practice, is viewed as discriminatory and infringement of the basic human rights, which includes the freedom of choice (Somerville, 2003). The other reason put forward by the supporters of the same sex marriage is that the marriage institution has undergone a lot of multifaceted changes over many years. As a result, recognizing the practice is just another change (Somerville, 2003). This argument however has been contradicted by a school of thought which has it that such a change are not analogous and goes to a collateral feature of marriage (Somerville, 2003).
In conclusion, marriage is a fundamental unit in the society from which a family springs. It should therefore help in establishing a cultural meaning, symbolism and moral values, (Somerville, 2003) in the society just as it ought to be free from controversies, legal technicalities and negative publicity. Thus, there is need to objectively address the issues that emanate from same sex marriages, harmonize its related laws, avoid discrimination and biased judgments of the same sex couples.
Smith, A (2004). Same Sex Marriages: Legal Issues.
Somerville, 2003). The Case Against “Same Sex Marriage”.
Storzer, P.R. & Picarello, R.A. (2006). Brief Amicus Curiae of the
Becket Fund for Religious Liberty in Support of Defendants-Appellants and Urging Reversal of the Decision of the Circuit Court for Baltimore City (No. 24-C-04-005390,
Hon. M. Brooke Murdock, Judge).