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Research Paper: Extending Marriage Rights to Gays and Lesbians

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Amy Li

Dr. Lee

English 101


Research Paper: Extending Marriage Rights To Gays and Lesbians

The contemporary era of globalization and ever-new changes, being introduced into the functioning of traditional institutions, has exerted significant impact on many societal institutions, which have been existing since earliest developments of the humankind. Nowadays an active debate both in Europe and North America is concerned with the issue of extending the existing institution of marriage, so that same-sex couples acquire a chance to get their relationships formally recognized. According to Corvino&Gallagher, the discourse encompasses variety of notions, which can be used to refer to relationships of same-sex couples, namely "marriage equality", "marriage for gay men and lesbians" and "same-sex marriage" (6). Here we would like to mention that terminology really means, because some of the notions above provide for the extension of existing institute ("marriage equality" or just "marriage") and other ones are concerned with the introduction of totally new institution ("same-sex marriage"). For the purposes of this assignment we would like to present the thesis, which would suggest that introduction of the extension of existing marriage institute is an apparent manifestation of democracy, whose existence is strictly interconnected with actual observance and protection of the rights of minorities, including sexual ones.

The question of legacy of anti-sexual minorities' discrimination became topical in terms of general movement for human and civil rights, which was taking place after World War II in Europe. Before briefly outlining the history of gay marriage issue, we would like to state that the place of gay men and lesbians in European and American societies has significantly changed over the second part of the twentieth century and first decade of twenty first one. Fifty years ago there were no broadcasting-related products, highlighting the lives and experiences of gay people, no people, who did not hide their sexual orientation, could work for federal government in the USA, people could have lost their jobs if they admitted being homosexual and no gay advertising was available (Chauncey 10-11).

The human rights developments of 1970s were the first step towards going forward with acknowledging the rights of LGBT people, while in 1980s and early1990s a step backwards was made due to the effects of AIDS-related discourse. Nevertheless, particularly in 1980s Denmark became the first country to recognize legal relationships for same-sex couples. Despite official status of "civic partnerships" in Denmark, their legal essence does not match the ones of traditional marriages and the "gay marriages", which were provided for in the Netherlands in 2001. It is worth mentioning that particularly late 1990s and early 2000s became most fruitful time for LGBT rights-related discourse. The changes regarding marriage, which occurred by growing state recognition of same-sex marriages in Europe (Belgium, Spain, Sweden, Norway, Portugal) and the USA (currently 14 states recognize legal relations between same-sex couples, provided for significant changes in the institute of marriage. The main ones to be referred to are associated with the freedom to choose one's marital partner's becoming a fundamental civic right, marriage becoming more gender-neutral, marriage being viewed as the nexus between couples and state and decline of power of religious authorities with regard to issues, concerning family and marriage.

Despite the fact that the changes, which occurred to the institute of marriage, can be generally considered to contributing to the marriage-related freedom, and observance and protection of civil rights, as well as promotion of democracy and equality of opportunities between heterosexual and homosexual people, there are still lots of concerns, being raised, to deny the ethical nature and legacy of providing homosexual couples with the chance to either establish civil partnerships and get married. Such concerns, first of all, contribute to the growing discrimination of homosexuals in terms of different spheres of professional and social life, and lead to the infringements of civil rights of LGBT. Furthermore, they prevent LGBT communities from development and make a huge contribution into society becoming separated into those, supporting granting LGBT the right to establishing civil partnerships and getting married and the ones, who opposes to such reforms. According to Goldberg&Alen, gay men and lesbians tend to experience societal, institutionalized and parenthood-related discrimination and stigmatization (111-112). In other words, the problem with



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