Same-Sex Marriage in Sociological Context Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Married couples have statutory rights to represent one another's financial and other confidential interests and they have mutual decision-making rights in circumstances where either individual becomes incapable of making important decisions. By contrast, non-married pair-bonded couples do not acquire those statutory rights and protections.

From the Conflict Theory sociological perspective, the current controversy surrounding same-sex marriage would emphasize the distinction between groups promoting same-sex marriage rights and groups opposed to those rights who promote the so-called "traditional" view of marriage in society. In sociological terms corresponding to conflict principles, same-sex marriage advocates (consisting substantially of individuals who would be directly benefited by its recognition) would be considered a subordinate group; those espousing the limitation of marital rights to traditional marriages would be considered the dominant group. According to that macro-sociological framework, the resources at issue would consist of the valuable (economic and non-economic) benefits of the formal status of marriage.

The relative inequality of the rights and privileges enjoyed by pair-bonded couples eligible for marriage and pair-bonded couples ineligible for marriage would also fit the classic framework of the conflict-based macro-social approach to understanding sociological issues and relationships. On one hand, the controversy over same-sex marriage did not have its origins in conflict between dominant and subordinate groups. On the other hand, it does demonstrate another fundamental feature of conflict theory: namely, it demonstrates how social conflict can be a crucial element in the evolution of society through social changes that correspond to the need to resolve the underlying bases of social conflict.

Symbolic interactionism may provide the most applicable and accurate framework for understanding the contemporary conflict over same-sex marriage. There is no doubt that same-sex pair-bonded primary couples feature perfectly analogous relationship elements to those that characterize traditional marriages. Typically, same-sex couples define their relationships and fulfill their mutual and respective responsibilities in a manner that is indistinguishable from corresponding definitions and responsibilities in traditional marriages. In that respect, the principal social structures pertaining to marriage would be the state and federal laws that define the legal rights of married couples.

Currently, there is a growing consensus in American society that equates the differential treatment of pair-bonded opposite-sex couples and pair-bonded same-sex couples with the shameful history of racism and differential treatment of uni-racial and interracial marriage in the pre-civil rights era of American society. In my personal experience, same-sex couples are no different from traditionally married couples and they deserve equal treatment under the law, just as did interracial couples. Apparently, younger Americans of my generation are much less prone to perpetuating traditional stereotypes and prejudices (Bennett, 1996) that militate against the conceptual expansion of the institution of marriage to include genuinely pair-bonded same-sex couples. It seems that the growing awareness of the moral and ethical inappropriateness of differentiating marital status on the basis of sexual orientation will eventually produce social changes in the direction of equality just the same as that type of awareness eventually overcame racial discrimination in marriage a half century ago.

References

Bennett, William J. "Gay Marriage: Not a Very Good Idea." The Washington Post (May

21, 1996). Accessed 16 May 2012 from:

http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/printarticle.html?id=1013

Henslin, James M. (2008). Essentials of Sociology: A Down-to-Earth Approach. Boston:

Pearson.

Macionis, John J. (2007).…

Sources Used in Document:

References

Bennett, William J. "Gay Marriage: Not a Very Good Idea." The Washington Post (May

21, 1996). Accessed 16 May 2012 from:

http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/printarticle.html?id=1013

Henslin, James M. (2008). Essentials of Sociology: A Down-to-Earth Approach. Boston:

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