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Same-Sex Marriage: How Will it Affect Our Society?
All social ills will always exist, the only question is in what quantity. Divorce rates can go up or down, marriage rates can go up or down, out-of-wedlock childbirths can go up or down. Just because they already exist to a certain degree does not mean they cannot get worse.Changing the definition of marriage can have effects upon these social ills, for better or worse. Allowing for gay marriage changes the definition so that it loses meaning, and will have a negative impact upon society. As for how, normative definitions are agreed upon societal rules and expectations specifying appropriate and inappropriate ways to behave. In other words, definitions affect behavior by directing people how to act. It used to be that a family was a married couple and children, and other styles of families were considered deviant at worst, or alternative at best. With acceptance of single parent families and unmarried cohabitating couples with children as families, the definition has changed, and the effect upon behavior has as well. People who don't meet the 1950s style nuclear family don't feel compelled by the social rules and expectations to conform to that normative definition anymore. So for example, if you are a co-habiting couple, you don't need to be married to be considered a family, as you already are one. By making the definition more inclusive, it has lost its ability to affect people's behavior as it really means nothing because a family can be anything."Although many people think of themselves as individuals, the strong tendency of people to conform to group patterns and expectations is consistently documented in laboratory experiments, social surveys, and observations of mass behavior." Professor H. Wesley Perkins, A Brief Summary of Social Norms Theory and the Approach to Promoting HealthBy redefining marriage we will only make this situation worse. Marriage will lose its normative definition completely as a required part of having a family. Marriage will no longer be the building block of a family, but simply a confirmation of a relationship, or a commitment ceremony, and little more. It's not that divorce rates will go up, but marriage rates will go down. There just won't be a point anymore because it won't be what people are supposed to do anymoreThe danger comes from the change in the definition of what a marriage is in general. Our cultural belief is that if you want to start a family, you need to get married, but by creating the legal fiction of a "gay marriage" you are saying that having a family is not what marriage is about, but simply two people who want to be together, being together. The danger is that people just won't get married anymore when they start having kids, they won't see it as the required step. So they don't have the legally enforcement monogamy or the property rights that come with marriage. This is indeed what we see in countries with these legal fictions: people often wait until they have their second child before getting married. Their divorce rates haven't gone up because people aren't getting married in the first place.Marriage is a contract, and an extremely important one at that. One of the important agreements the couple makes upon entering the marriage is that they will be monogamous. The state has an important interest in encouraging people to be monogamous. It ensures that the fatherhood of the children will be more certain, so that fathers will stick around and help raise the children. Also men are not out fathering other children with other women that will become a burden on society. This interest simply does not exist among gay couples.The property rights of women in particular are what this is about, and creating the fiction of gay marriage will hurt women the most in this area. Women are the stay at home partner far more often then men, and as such they don't accumulate assets, experience, or promotions, so that upon a separation--without the marriage contract--they would be left with nothing to show for their years of work. Sending people the message that marriage is not the step you take when having children, but is just two adults wanting to be together, will have the harmful effect that people will not get married when they start having kids, like they do in Sweden and Denmark. Their generous nanny-state programs pay for raising out-of-wedlock children there, we don't have that kind of money here."Look at all the divorces, saving marriage is not a good reason to deny gay marriage."The central issue has to do with enforced monogamy. The father knows the children are likely his, and he's not out fathering other children of which the state will have to help take care. I'm sure you might say that people still cheat on their spouse, so there's no point. That is not true. If a crime prevention program lowers crime, then it is successful. If state enforced monogamy contracts (marriage) lead to more monogamy then it is successful. It is enforced by a financial penalty upon divorce. What point is there to enforcing monogamy among gay couples?As for the rise in single parent families and divorce occurring without gay marriage, yes, that's true, there are other factors that contribute. This is not a vacuum, and gay marriage would be one among many factors. Do you then wish to enact policies that would worsen the economy in the midst of a recession? I hope not, and saying that marriage is not in a good state is no excuse for worsening it."Outlawing gay marriage is the same as outlawing interracial marriage--it's based on hatred and bigotry."Comparing gay marriage to interracial marriage is misleading at best. Interracial marriage still accomplishes all the goals of the state in providing for children and for the child-raiser and so on. It does not change the definition of a marriage or the purpose of marriage. Interracial marriage bans were based on racism, gay marriage bans are not based on hatred of homosexuals, but on not changing the definition of a societal norm.Looking at the actual arguments made in the Loving v. Virginia interracial marriage case, the arguments were mostly based on eugenics, "improving" the races and "keeping the white race pure." In the appellate brief to the Supreme Court written by the Attorney General of Virginia Robert Y. Button, he states that: "there is authority for the conclusion that the crossing of the primary races leads gradually to retrogression and to eventual extinction of the resultant type unless it is fortified by reunion with the parent stock.""The results of racial intermarriage have been exceedingly variable. Sometimes it has produced a better race. This is the case when the crossing has been between different but closely allied stocks...It is an unquestionable fact that the yellow, as well as the negroid peoples possess many desirable qualities in which the whites are deficient. From this it has been argued that it would be advantageous if all races were blended into a universal type embodying the excellencies of each. But scientific breeders have long ago demonstrated that the most desirable results are secured by specializing types rather than by merging them.""the intermixtures which have been beneficial to the progress of mankind have been between nearly related peoples and that the results of a mixture of widely divergent stock serve to warn against the miscegenation of distinct races.""where two such races are in contact the inferior qualities are not bred out, but may be emphasized in the progeny, a principle widely expressed in modern eugenic literature. "The only social concern it raises about divorce is that interracial marriages will have a higher divorce rate since their racist families will make life hell for them. But this was an afterthought. No one today is arguing that gay marriage will cause harm to the purity of any race or that any specific harm will result from individual gay marriages. It is the broader social harm of redefining marriage that is the concern, and the negative consequences that this will bring.