Gay Marriage – Why Civil Unions are Not Enough

Obama’s support for gay marriage has brought out a lot of arguments from those believing that it should not be allowed. Even some who’re comfortable with the idea of homosexual relationships and follow a “live and let live” policy feel that the institution of marriage should be the rightful preserve of heterosexuals alone. They claim that if gays want to live together and form a relationship, then that’s fine. Let them form a civil union which could be as good as a marriage for all legal purposes. Sounds reasonable right?

No Brainer - Gay Marriage needs to be legalized

No Brainer – Gay Marriage needs to be legalized

Except that it’s not. There are several aspects of marriage that can’t be replicated in a civil union. The biggest one being that not all countries recognize civil unions as being the same as marriage. The United States Citizen and Immigration Services department for example, doesn’t recognize same sex foreign civil unions as being eligible for a variety of procedures including the establishment of permanent citizenship. Other countries will be even worse off in this regard. Many people would be unable to take their civil union partners along for visa applications because of this.

Civil unions also don’t have the protections and benefits that are available to marriages. Social security benefits after death, family leave to care for a spouse, and being able to have a say in life and death matters when it comes to one’s partner are simply not available in to those in civil unions. There are many more differences.

The bottom line is simple – civil unions do not have the same status, protections and respect that marriage does. It means that by denying the status of “married” to a certain class of citizens amounts to discrimination which is against the Constitution of most developed and civilized countries.

Many also claim that children reared by same sex couples are not as healthy emotionally as those raised by a “traditional” husband wife combination. For this reason they’re against homosexuals being given the right to marriage. There are several problems with this.

First of all, there’s no connection between marriage and having children. You can reproduce without ever getting married in a perfectly legal manner. Conversely, you can get married and choose not to have kids (like me). No one is coming to arrest me saying “You got married, now make babies!” To bear this point further, everyone has the right to get married. Sterile couples and women who have passed menopause have no clause restricting them from matrimony. This shows that the plain intent of the law is not to link marriage and childbirth. The appropriate terminology from the point of view of kids is “parents” not “husband and wife”.

Second, there is no evidence whatsoever that having two parents of the same sex causes some kind of fundamental defect in the minds of children. In fact, study after study has shown that LGBT parents are every bit as capable as heterosexual parents.

Judith Stacy is a professor at NYU who had this to say about the subject:

 “Rarely is there as much consensus in any area of social science as in the case of gay parenting, which is why the American Academy of Pediatrics and all of the major professional organizations with expertise in child welfare have issued reports and resolutions in support of gay and lesbian parental rights”

Those who argue from the “natural” standpoint posit that nature intended children to be born to a man and a woman. Therefore it is the best way to bring up a child. Ignoring the faulty teleological thought process for the moment, if human psychology has taught us anything, it’s that the human mind is not at that fragile. Children can be brought up in a wide range of circumstances without suffering after effects.

Quoting Wikipedia again:

Since the 1970s, it has become increasingly clear that it is family processes (such as the quality of parenting, the psychosocial well-being of parents, the quality of and satisfaction with relationships within the family, and the level of co-operation and harmony between parents) that contribute to determining children’s well-being and ‘outcomes’, rather than family structures, per se, such as the number, gender, sexuality and co-habitation status of parents.

This much evidence should be enough to convince any scientifically minded person of the fact that LGBT parenting has no ill effects on children. If they still refuse to change their views, then it’s a sign of bias somewhere down the line. After all, the evidence has spoken.

Also, if we were so concerned with preserving the “natural” or “normal” environment for children, why do we not prohibit single parents from raising or adopting children? There are millions of people who were raised by either their mother or their father alone without showing any side effects due to that reason. Sorry folks, there’s no debate on this one.

In any case, the entire debate is moot. As I’ve mentioned above, marriage has nothing to do with children anyway. So while the opponents of gay marriage are wrong about children suffering due to having two same sex parents, it’s an irrelevant line of discussion.

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  1. I had this same discussion with a family member, kind of religious, thinks marriage is just between a man and woman, but also isn’t a raging homophobe and is in favor of civil unions. I also explained why civil unions aren’t enough. To me, it’s one of those “separate, but equal” type of things and that’s a false concept.

    In any case, the entire debate is moot. As I’ve mentioned above, marriage has nothing to do with children anyway. So while the opponents of gay marriage are wrong about children suffering due to having two same sex parents, it’s an irrelevant line of discussion.

    Not these days no, but not so long ago, marriage was just all about reproducing children. Had nothing to do with love or companionship. Mostly a social contract and economic institution. (still is in a lot of ways) But I agree, children don’t suffer because they have same sex parents. I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of these kids come out better than those raised by heterosexual ones.


  2. If only a man and a woman can raise well adjusted kids, then why do we have sociopaths?


    • In reply to Sraboney

      Well in all fairness there are always fringe cases and sociopaths are definitely one of them. But perhaps when there are more examples, we can do a statistical comparison.


  3. Well said! I totally agree that the points made are highly irrelevant. I genuinely don’t understand this opposition to homosexuality. They aren’t doing anyone any harm!


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