Nonetheless, it seems to most people that the state, by giving a marriage license, expresses approval, and, by withholding it, disapproval. It is not about whether same-sex relationships can involve the content of marriage: few would deny that gays and lesbians are capable of friendship, intimacy, “meet and happy conversation,” and mutual responsibility, nor that they can have and raise children (whether their own from a previous marriage, children created within their relationship by surrogacy or artificial insemination, or adopted children).Certainly none would deny that gays and lesbians are capable of sexual intimacy.Tags: Ecotourism In Kerala EssayGood Internet Sources Research PapersTennessee Williams The Glass Menagerie EssaysWhat Makes A Person Successful EssayEssay Introduction Thesis StatementThe Fall Of The Roman Empire EssayThesis Statement On Alternative Medicine
But marriage, it soon becomes evident, is no single thing. The institution of marriage houses and supports several distinct aspects of human life: sexual relations, friendship and companionship, love, conversation, procreation and child-rearing, mutual responsibility. (We have always granted marriage licenses to sterile people, people too old to have children, irresponsible people, and people incapable of love and friendship.
Impotence, lack of interest in sex, and refusal to allow intercourse may count as grounds for divorce, but they don’t preclude marriage.) Marriages can exist even in cases where none of these is present, though such marriages are probably unhappy.
Analyzing this issue will help us understand what is happening in our country, and where we might go from here.
Before we approach the issue of same-sex marriage, we must define marriage.
Finally, the debate is not about the religious aspects of marriage.
Most of the major religions have their own internal debates, frequently heated, over the status of same-sex unions.Government plays a key role in all three aspects of marriage. It seems, at least, to operate as an agent of recognition or the granting of dignity. Clergy are always among those entitled to perform legally binding marriages.Religions may refuse to marry people who are eligible for state marriage and they may also agree to marry people who are ineligible for state marriage.Although some religions urge premarital counseling and refuse to marry people who seem ill-prepared for marriage, the state does not turn such people away.The most casual whim may become a marriage with no impediment but for the time it takes to get a license.Being able to make it, and to make it freely (not under duress) is taken to be definitive of adult human freedom.The statement made by the marrying couple is usually seen as involving an answering statement on the part of society: we declare our love and commitment, and society, in response, recognizes and dignifies that commitment. For many people, a marriage is not complete unless it has been solemnized by the relevant authorities in their religion, according to the rules of the religion.Nor is the debate, at least currently, about the civil aspects of marriage: we are moving toward a consensus that same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples ought to enjoy equal civil rights.The leaders of both major political parties appeared to endorse this position during the 2008 presidential campaign, although only a handful of states have legalized civil unions with material privileges equivalent to those of marriage.Given all this, it seems odd to suggest that in marrying people the state affirmatively expresses its approval or confers dignity.There is indeed something odd about the mixture of casualness and solemnity with which the state behaves as a marrying agent.