During our last class we grappled with the idea of “unlearning” behavior in an attempt be more accepting of gay and lesbian relationships. While Emory may be progressive, the reality is that it is a difficult social controversy to break through. There is an undeniable construction of acceptance (or lack thereof) dealing with gay relationships that are formed through one’s exposure to the subject, and these opinions are largely shaped by the media, friends, parents, and political views.
It is no secret that the traditional institution of marriage is existing in a state of failure. Those who contest the implementation of accepting gay marriage claim that the institution of marriage would be further weakened.1 But what are the negative ramifications of legalizing gay marriage if successful marriages are declining? Proponents of gay marriage appeal to legal principles of equality and also appeal to practicality of allowing hospital visitation rights, for instance.1 Beyond these reasons of legality and practicality, what are some other determining factors that would seem to support gay marriage? Masci’s article “A Contentious Debate: Same-Sex Marriage in the U.S.” deals with another significant consideration of this debate, the role of religious communities, but for the sake of this particular post I am going to leave religiosity aside even though it too is an important factor in this whole issue.
Like I previously mentioned, marriages are already struggling to maintain success, but some of these failures could be accounted for by a lack of societal judgment. Could the constraints of marriage be outdated? The frequency with which we hear about relationships ending due to sexuality and sexual preferences seems to have increased over the years, but because of the expectations of marriage, the institution itself rules out any digression. I would hypothesize that even though gay marriage may be “out of the norm” for the majority of Americans, it may actually help the overall perception of marriage. USA News published article claiming just that too, showing that divorce rates were actually lower in states that allowed same-sex marriage.2 Consider the some of the terminology that a gay or lesbian couple uses today in substitute for marriage such as life partner. When considering the language and implication by using that particular term, it directly indicates what the goal of that relationship, and the reality is whether or not gay marriage is legalized, homosexuals will continue to live together. Therefore, who cares whether the couple getting married is homosexual or heterosexual, because as long as the institution of marriage is able regain confidence with people maybe that will eliminate the little voice in the back of people’s head wondering “is it going to last” and be replaced with some form of confidence in marriage in general.
From our previous readings, we can see that Emory was once extremely rigid with rules for students, even discriminatory. But if my previous points about marriage are applicable and confidence can be re-instilled in marriage, how can we then take Emory’s progressiveness toward the gay community beyond our community? Emory serves as an obvious example that with the proper steps taken a new behavior can be “learned” or “unlearned”.
An additional question that I would like to pose, is it the government’s responsibility to get involved with implementing this social change, or is a purely a change that needs to occur through each community?
- Masci, David. “A Contentious Debate: Same-Sex Marriage in the U.S..” Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. (2009): n. page. Web. 22 Sep. 2012. <http://www.pewforum.org/Gay-Marriage-and-Homosexuality/A-Contentious-Debate-Same-Sex-Marriage-in-the-US.asp&xgt;.
- Kurtzleban, Danielle. “Divorce Rates Lower in States with Same-Sex Marriage.” USA News. 6 July 2011: n. page. Web. 23 Sep. 2012. <http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2011/07/06/divorce-rates-lower-in-states-with-same-sex-marriage>.