Why do we care about gay marriage?

May 2, 2010

by Sarah Michele Ford

The gay marriage debate casts a light on a wide variety of issues that are relevant to the sociology student.

Fundamentally, this is a debate about our values, about the role of religion and government in our society, and about definitions of family.  Where you come down on the question of gay marriage depends on how you look at each of these issues.

  • Proponents of gay marriage frame the issue in terms of equal rights.  They argue that to exclude gay couples from the legal benefits of marriage is a violation of civil rights; they argue that allowing religious groups to control what couples may or may not get married violates the separation of church and state.
  • Opponents of gay marriage frame the issue in terms of religion and traditional family structures.  They argue that within Judeo-Christian tradition, homosexuality is a sin and marriage is defined as a union between one man and one woman.  Some also add that marriage is the creation of a family and that a family means parents and their children; since it is biologically impossible for a gay couple to have children (that get their genetic material from those two parents) there’s no reason for them to get married.

And therein lies the challenge.  Gay marriage exposes the seams in our society, seams around what constitutes a family and who gets to decide on that definition; seams around the importance of equality and around the role of religion in American culture.  All of these conflicts revolve around things that many people hold so dear, it’s no wonder this has become such a divisive issue.

Can the gay marriage debate be resolved in a way that’s satisfying to everyone?  Or does one of these sides have to lose the fight?


  1. Brining up gay marriage in any discussion is very risky because everyone has their own opinions on the subject. Personally, I believe that what a person does with their live is their choice and whatever makes them happy they should follow through with it no matter what your religion is and what people expect of you. Over the past couple of years, gay marriage has become a very popular topic all around the world. I believe that it will become even more popular then it is already and no matter what happens the gay marriage debate will not be resolved unless people agree to disagree because people were raised differently containing beliefs and backgrounds. Activists will continue to speak their minds on the subject which will continue to raise thoughts. The gay marriage debate will continue on for the next couple of decades and only more drama will be brought to the subject matter.

  2. Gay marriage is a very opinionated topic. When brought up in conversation, people sometimes are very cautious in what they say and how they say things. Many people go by their religion and think that morally gay marriage is wrong, but others just believe whatever makes a person happy they should do. In my opinion, i believe that gay marriage is up to the two people. If they choose it then what do outsiders have to say about the matter. I think that people should have an opinion, but not bring it as strongly to others attention as they have been recently. Yes, gay marriage is a huge topic these days, but the ones that it should matter to are the people that are the ones practicing gay marriage.

  3. I not think that anyone will ever “win” or “lose” the gay marriage fight. I think it is an issue that will be around for years to come and everyone will never agree on it. Even if gay marriage becomes legalized in all states in the United States there will still be people who oppose to same sex marriages. They may be treated differently and face hardships. However, people may feel differently about “winning” or “losing.” A gay couple who get married may feel that they have “won”. While other gay couples who marry may not feel the same way if they are married but not treated equally socially. It is a sticky situation to say the least.

  4. I agree with the posts on the topic of gay marriage. But, there are some clear facts that people should consider before forming an opinion. I believe these facts prove that banning same-sex marriages is unconstitutional and discriminatory by our government. If you are an American, you cannot avoid paying taxes to our government (state and federal). Thus, homosexual persons must pay taxes at the same rate as heterosexual couples, yet receive less constitutional rights by disallowing marriages between same-sex couples. Our legal system has made it quite clear that there should be a separation of church and state. (ex: prayer in public schools) Having said that, how can our governments (state or federal) legally disallow same-sex marriages based on the Judeo-Christian beliefs of a marriage being between a man and a woman? Furthermore, same-sex couples who are denied marriage have to “legalize” through their Will or other legal documents their wishes in every aspect. Same-sex couples do not have the same legal rights in hospitals and medical situations as legally married couples. Same-sex couples do not receive the same taxation benefits as married couples with the IRS. Finally, same-sex couples with children often face various legal hurdles in doctor offices and school systems unless there has been a legal adoption and paperwork to prove it. But, then there are states who do not allow a second parent adoption by a same-sex partner either! All emotions aside, disallowing same-sex marriages violates constitutional rights. I imagine there were opponents and proponents of slavery prior to the 13th ammendment to the Constitution! Discrimination, regardless the topic, is harmful and has no place within our government.

    • “Same-sex couples do not have the same legal rights in hospitals and medical situations as legally married couples”

      Fortunately, this one bit is no longer the case – President Obama issued a memo right around the time I wrote this post requiring all hospitals accepting Medicare or MedicAid to allow patients to designate ANYONE as their decision maker – not just family by blood or legal marriage.

  5. In my opinion marriage should be between a man and a woman, but that is not what others look at it. That does not mean anyone is right or wrong.

  6. My belife is that people fear the unknown. That most people do not understand the LGBTQ community, and how they could have sex with someone of the same gender. Also the big issue is not argued just by the general public, the insurance companies do not want to have to change everything just to allow gays to get married. All this does not even cover everything the biggest issue is not gays it is transgendards. I have known of gay people who discriminate against transgenders. Also people argue that men are just trying to get into wemons bathrooms. I argue this based on the fact that if this where true we would not have FTM’s or female to male transgenders. Also having you pienis turned inside out just to molest a child seems a bit insane. I belive that it is a matter of money not every company will spend the money to construct family bathrooms.

  7. Can someone please tell me what marriage is exactly? Seriously! Marriage is NOWHERE in the bible, it is simply a ceremony celebrating religious lovers. And marriage through the government is totally opposite of marriage through a church! We are not asking to be recognized as “normal” (and “normal” is yet to be defined) married couples. Reguardless of our religion, we want equality through our rights! We don’t care what other people think or our lives as gays, we are bothering no one and we don’t want to be bothered either! We are human beings just like anyone else. I just absolutely despise this topic sometimes. It is not easy to be a gay person through daily life as it is, and then to come onto different websites with random people saying their “point of view” on a topic and using bible lingo to support their sides, not even knowing if the bible is a credible reference or not! That is their beliefs and this is mine. Also, if the government thinks we should separate church from state, and if marriage is considered a “church” thing, then why is it in the “state” in the first place? Someone please, enlighten me! My point is that there is a difference between marriage in a church and marriage through the state, and yes, I must say, that as a gay, I do believe we should have the right to marry someone we love. I personally don’t think I will ever want to marry (due to the fact of seeing so many failed marriages throughout my life), but I believe that I should have that decision for myself and not have to wait on society to see it as “normal” or whatever….

    • Well I’m sixteen does that mean I should have the right to get married. I mean like now not when I’m older.

  8. Personally I think it’s a bad idea, but only because what happens after that. Before this marriage was clearly stated as between a man and a woman of age. After this do you think everyone else will sit by. Were looking at incestual relationships, polygamist, and probably even pedophilia. If they change the rules for one group but not for the others people gonna take that. One can’t even say that those are obviously wrong anymore because a few years ago you could’ve said the same thing about gay marriage. If they do get if things are gonna get really messy.

    • Why do people always compare homosexuality to polygamy, incest, and pedophilia when attempting to argue against same-sex marriage? I think it’s because people don’t understand same-sex marriage so they declare that it is unconstitutional and wrong. In reality, the LGBQT community is full of people who just want the basic human rights granted to everyone else. I don’t understand why the government and the general American public thinks they have the right to dictate who can and cannot marry, when the entire purpose of the American way of life is to understand and accept. The Constitution itself addresses the separation of church and state in its very own amendment, so why do we base our views about Same-Sex marriage on Christianity? America is made up of a large, diverse general public. People of all faiths, sexualities, cultures, and backgrounds are represented. Those
      American people deserve the right to marry whomever they love. Period.

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