What is more important, love or gender? This is a huge question in regards to same-sex marriage. If love were more important, then why do people care so much about the legalization of same-sex marriage? How is the right to deny the happiness of a same-sex couple getting married anyone’s authority?
Gays are a marginalized minority because society has made them that way. They aren’t given the same rights as straight men and women are; marriage being one of the fought for rights. Social construction has made it so that marriage is seen as the legal bonding of one man to one woman. Although over time the fight to make gay marriage legal has been won in many locations, there are still a number of places where the marriage of gay men and lesbians is illegal.
While marriage symbolizes mutual love, there are also spousal rights and financial benefits that go along with the legal bind. Although a gay couple may live together for years as co-dependents, they may be “prohibited from carrying each other on policies for health insurance or life insurance when that benefit is provided by their employer for workers’ heterosexual spouses” (Aulette). By not being legally married, same-sex couples also don’t have the right to make decisions about their partner’s health care as a married heterosexual couple would. In the United States, in some states where it is still illegal for gay men and lesbians to get married, civil unions have been granted. Civil unions offer similar rights to that of a heterosexual marriage, such as claim of each other’s taxes and insurance benefits (Aulette).
Another issue that comes with the various gay rights, or lack there of, is the impact on children. “Only very few states permit unmarried partners to petition to adopt jointly” (familequality). This means that legally, one parent of a child is a legal stranger, despite having been acting as a parent since birth. They have no custody rights of the child; they can’t sign anything medical or legal in regards to the child. Where the law doesn’t see two parents of a child, I would think society would as it would be plain to see first hand the raising of the child by two parents, but this isn’t always the case. The non-legal parent sometimes feels like a “nanny or mommy’s sidekick” when it comes to giving permission for something so small as the attendance of a birthday party and being overlooked because the permission of the legal parent is seen as more appropriate (Aulette). Having no legal ties to the child may leave the child in distress if the legal parent were to die. The other parent would have no legal claim over his or her own child even if they are the most suitable option and has been a parent for the child’s entire life.
There isn’t only the issue of legal rights of a child, sometimes it’s a matter of first getting a child. In some cases, same-sex couples are denied permission to adopt a child because of their sexuality (lgbtmap 2011). Not only does this hurt a couple wanting to love and care for a child of their own, it denies a child in need a loving and stable home.
Gender socialization has made it so that it seems unnatural and too complicated for same-sex couples to have a family. There are certain gender roles when it comes to parenting that same-sex parents are thought of as not having. In family dynamics, the standard story is that “all children are raised in households with one masculine male father and one feminine female mother” (Aulette). Same-sex couples are then left with the consideration of are both parents going to referred to as ‘mom’/’dad’? Should they conform to the heterosexual model and one is ‘mom’ and the other is ‘dad’?
There is a lot of discussion on whether same-sex parents are harmful to a child’s well being or not. In my opinion, it’s not the parents who raise the child and a lack of love and care they provide the child with, it’s society that harms the child. How society often treats same-sex marriage and families sends a message to their children that their parents aren’t adequate and that something is wrong with their family. What is wrong with two people loving their child? Not only does the way society speaks about same-sex families affect a child’s mental health, it’s now come to a point where it’s affecting their physical health.
In Michigan, a doctor refused to treat a 6-day old baby girl because her parents were lesbians (myfoxdetroit 2015). The women were under the impression that their doctor primary concern was the well being of their infant, as it should be, not the parents’ sexuality. But the fact of the matter is that there are few laws that protect gays. “Doctors can refuse treatment if it’s incompatible with their personal, religious or moral beliefs” (myfoxdetroit 2015).
When it comes down to it, we are all just human beings, no matter our race, gender, or sexuality. I think equality is one of the biggest issues of our time and that it’s gone too far when a child’s health is put at risk. Your sexuality shouldn’t determine whether you could get married, adopt a child, or how much love you could give a child. What is more important, love or gender?
“Map: Same-sex Marriage Laws around the World.” Cbc News. 20 Jan. 2015. Web. <http://www.cbc.ca/news2/interactives/map-same-sex-marriage-world/>.
“50 States of Adoption.” Family Equality Council. Web. <http://www.familyequality.org/get_informed/families_for_all/50_states_of_adoption/>.
“All Children Matter.” Lgbtmap. 1 Oct. 2011. Web. <http://www.lgbtmap.org/file/all-children-matter-summary.pdf>.
“Doctor Refuses Treatment of Same-sez Couple’s Baby.” Myfoxdetroit.con. 18 Feb. 2015. Web. <http://www.myfoxdetroit.com/story/28142401/doctor-refuses-treatment-of-same-sex-couples-baby>.
Aulette, Judy Root, and Judith Wittner. Gendered Worlds. Third Edition ed. New York. 226 & 237. Print.