Marriage is a socially sanctioned union that is, in most societies, generally guided by rule of exogamy, the obligation to marry outside a group (Marriage pp). However, some societies follow the rules of endogamy, the obligation to marry within a group (Marriage pp). Groups are generally defined as kinship such as clan or lineage, residential groups, and social groups such as ethnic, caste or class (Marriage pp). Although marriage is usually heterosexual and entails the rights and duties of sexual performance, there are exceptions, such as Nayar women of India who marry men of a superior caste, then take on numerous lovers and bear legitimate children (Marriage pp). And among the Dhomey of West Africa, a woman marries another woman, one becomes the legal father of the children of the second who has children by men (Marriage pp).
In other societies, an adult man marries the young or even infant daughter of another man and delays sexual relations until the appropriate time, thus the two men form a strong bond (Marriage pp). The examples above emphasize the functions of marriage to serve as a domestic division of labor and social relationships between different groups (Marriage pp). Marriage is not necessarily a union between persons of the opposite sex nor is it a union for the primary purpose of reproducing children, but rather a union between two persons for the purpose of partnership in labor and social activities (Marriage pp).
Opponents of same sex marriage, argue that the need to "ensure the survival of the state and species is the historical and institutional foundation upon which marriage exists" (Kravets pp). If same sex couples are allowed to marry then instead of a life covenant based on a procreative promise, marriage would become a mere contract between any two individuals (Bastien pp). Marriage is generally ordered to the procreation of new persons, to whose education and upbringing the spouses commit themselves and same sex couples are, by nature, incapable of procreation and most admit to never aspiring to any life commitment (Bastien pp). Therefore, legalizing same sex marriages would be unjust for those rights are linked to the expectation of duration and procreation and if there is no promise of procreation, then why should same sex couples be granted legal status (Bastien pp). Family is of the utmost importance to society and without sexual morality, the unity of the couple and the family is destroyed, and because marriage and family are an integral part of social order, then sexual morality impacts society substantially (Bastien pp). This is the very reason why marriage is referred to as a social institution (Bastien pp). Human sexual impulse and sexual conduct must be regulated to ensure the stability of the family, which is the building block of society, to ensure that the family is able to fulfill its role as society's foundation (Bastien pp). If same sex marriage is legalized it might bring the end to marriage as a social institution (Bastien pp). The Minnesota Supreme Court recently declared that marriage is between a man and a woman and involves "the procreation and rearing of children within a family," and that this belief "is as old as the Book of Genesis" (Kravets pp).
Gays and lesbians have only recently begun forcing the issue of same sex marriage in courts, "experimenting with lawsuits that were rarely broached in past decades when courts barred mixed-raced marriages and allowed schools to fire homosexual teachers" (Kravets pp). However, before judges decide whether supporting procreation should outweigh discrimination, they must first decide whether there is a rational basis to limit the rights and privileges of one group of citizens in order to promote the legitimate state interest of fostering the human race's survival.(Kravets pp). Courts in Massachusetts, New York and Washington state recently stated that such a state interest no longer applies in a world of artificial insemination and adoption and that procreation is not threatened by same sex marriages (Kravets pp). "The precise question is whether barring committed same-sex couples from the benefits of the civil marriage laws somehow serves the interest of encouraging procreation. There is no logical way in which it does so," King County Superior Court Judge William Downing of Seattle ruled in August 2004 (Kravets pp). In February 2005, New York Judge Robert Mulvey denied marriage to same sex couple, declaring that it was not up to the court but rather the legislature to grant them permission for matrimony (Xiaowei pp). In March 2005, the Washington State Supreme Court heard arguments concerning the legal issues that will ultimately determine whether same-sex couples can marry within that state (Rowe pp).
In deciding whether same sex couples can marry, much of the legal analysis seems to boil down to the issue of procreation (Kravets pp).
Today, marriage in many parts of the world such as in Northern Europe, is losing importance due to the social legislation that has emphasized equal financial benefits and legal standing to children born to unwed parents, and during recent years gay-rights and other advocate groups have sought to gain official recognition comparable to marriage for same-sex couples (Marriage pp). In 1989 Denmark legalized same sex relationships by enacting the Registered Domestic Partnerships, which is similar to civil unions in Vermont (Alderman pp). Neither are considered a marriage and requires a divorce to end the relationship, yet create a separate system for same sex couples, yet does grant certain legal rights within the union of the couple (Alderson pp). In 2001, same sex marriage became legal in the Netherlands and today several court rulings have legalized it in various regions of Canada and the United States (Alderson pp). The legalization of same sex marriages is a recent societal development and is a highly controversial subject for among many people, especially for heterosexuals, but also for many lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans-gendered individuals (Alderson pp). Recent polls taken in Canada reveal that approximately fifty percent of residents are in favor of legalizing same sex marriages, while a recent poll in the United States revealed approximately fifty-five percent were against the legalization of same sex marriages (Alderson pp). In December 2004, the Canadian Supreme Court ruled that same sex marriage is constitutional, thereby opening up the opportunity for Parliament to legalize same-sex marriage (Gajewsk pp). The Spain recently approved a draft law to legalize same sex marriage and extend full rights to homosexual couples, including the right to adopt children, which (Gajewsk pp).
Same sex couples are becoming a more visible part of today's society. Only a few short decades ago, mixed race marriages were forbidden in most states because the idea of a mixed race child was considered intolerable for most people who believed it would destroy the very foundation of society. Today, the arguments against same sex marriages sound very similar. What seems to be left out of most opposing arguments is a very basic part of humanity, and that is love. Allowing legal unions between same sex couples is not "granting" them permission to have sex, it is allowing them to legally commit to each other and enjoy the social and legal benefits that heterosexual couples enjoy. Many corporations such as American Airlines are extending their employee partner benefits to include same sex couples (Lee pp). The issue at stake concerning same sex marriages and unions is about recognizing relationships that are based on love and commitment. It is irrational to believe that legalizing same sex marriages will destroy society and the institution of marriage, any more than adhering to the belief that mixed race marriages brought the downfall of society and the institution of marriage. Moreover, statutes defining the legal institution of marriage fail to state justifications for limiting marriage to opposite-sex…