Opponents of gay marriage list a number of reasons for their lack of support for same-sex marriage laws. They believe that legalizing gay marriage will have a detrimental impact on society and ultimately destroy the institution of marriage. The main arguments revolve around tradition, religion, child-rearing and the weakening of marriage laws.
Gay Marriage is Not Traditional
Opponents of gay marriage often argue that gay marriage is not traditional marriage. Traditional marriage in most cultures is only recognized between one man and one woman. This arrangement supports the purpose of marriage, which traditionally has been procreation. Same-sex couples by definition are unable to procreate and have been unable to produce biological children. Because homosexual couples are unable to procreate, opponents of gay marriage argue that they have no need for the benefits and protections offered by marriage.
Historically, marriage has evolved to suit the goals and desires of the citizens. Our society no longer treats women as property to be bought and sold into a wealthy family. Marriage is no longer considered a property transaction. Further, states have rightfully set restrictions on children from getting married, understanding that they are unable to consent to marriage due to their age.
The Purpose of Marriage is to Produce Children
Although it is true that marriage has been traditionally viewed as a precursor to children, the laws do not require married couples to procreate. Some states do provide restrictions against siblings and cousins marrying due to the risk of birth defects or other dangers that come from a limited genetic pool. However, the laws do not require testing to ensure that couples who intend to marry are fertile. Nor are couples required to state their intention to procreate before they are allowed to marry. Although children frequently are a part of a heterosexual family, many heterosexual couples are unable to procreate and must undergo fertility treatments or adopt children in order to bring children into their families.
It is clear that there is some ability for the state to regulate about procreation, and states have made this adjustment by creating restrictions against marrying close relatives. However, other than that, anyone can procreate, including unmarried teenagers. There are no laws that require parents to meet certain credentials before procreating. In fact, homosexual couples have to make a very conscious choice to have children because they cannot create them biologically.
Children Need a Mother and a Father
Gay marriage opponents argue that men and women bring a different style of parenting that is uniquely beneficial to their children’s upbringing. They argue that heterosexual couples provide a balance of masculinity and femininity that help a child excel as they move from childhood into adulthood. Although this argument seems to be logical, research has shown that children who are raised by gay couples fare just as well as children who are raised by heterosexual parents.
When most people think of traditional families, it is likely that they will imagine a father and a mother and their children. However, even before the concept of gay marriage entered the national conversation, the number of traditional families has been diminishing. Families have been broken by divorce and death. Blended families are becoming a normal phenomenon. Children often split their time between their parents’ homes and adapt to the new family structures within them.
Although the research is relatively new, many studies have been conducted to study the possible risks posed by gay parents. These studies show that, overall, gay parents are very competent. One study found that children raised by lesbian parents are actually more confident and do better academically than children who are raised in heterosexual homes.
Marriage is a Sacred Institution
Although there are many religious rites that accompany wedding ceremonies, the institution of marriage is governed by the states. Many opponents of same-sex marriage believe that legalizing gay marriage will create a slippery slope that will lead to the destruction of marriage as we know it. They fear that it will lead to polygamy or marriage to animals.
Marriage is, at its simplest, a contract between two consenting adults. The couple seeks to take on the privileges and responsibilities that come along with the marriage contract. Gay marriage allows homosexual couples the ability to solidify their relationships in a manner that is recognized. These unions are beneficial as they promote family values. Same-sex marriage allows gay couples to form a committed partnership, encouraging them to give up risky sexual lifestyles. Encouraging monogamous relationships regardless of sexual preference promotes public health by discouraging risky sexual lifestyles.
Most of the new same-sex marriage laws do not require religious organizations to perform same-sex marriage if doing so is in violation of their beliefs. This allows a separation between civil law and religion, providing gay couples with the same legal rights as heterosexual couples without forcing clergy to violate their religious beliefs.
Definitions of Marriage Will Continue to Evolve
Historically, the definition of marriage has evolved to suit the current goals of the country. At its essence, marriage is a contract between two committed partners. In the past, interracial couples were not able to marry until the United States Supreme Court ruled the prohibition unconstitutional. Supporters of gay marriage have compared the movement to legalize gay marriage to the legalization of interracial marriage. They argue that adults who love each other have the right to formalize their commitment through marriage. Gay couples have successfully raised children who have grown up to be well-adjusted and successful individuals. Religious institutions have not been forced, and will not be forced, to participate in same-sex marriages in violation of their doctrine. Opponents to gay marriage have little to fear about the institution of marriage and its effect on society.