It was 25 years ago when Denmark was the first country to legally recognise same sex unions when they legalized ‘Registered Partnerships‘ in 1989, since then many more countries have followed in their footsteps but this does not go far enough for some people. Although the ‘partnerships’ allow a same sex couple the legal benefits of a married heterosexual couple, the status is not the same as a full marriage.
The Netherlands was the first country to fully legalize same sex marriage in 2000, since then many countries have followed with most making the stand in the last couple of years. These countries include Belgium, South Africa, Iceland, Sweden, Norway, Portugal and Argentina. Denmark waited until 2012 to fully legalize same sex marriage despite being first with the registered partnerships.
The most confusing country when it comes to Gay marriage is America. With their two tier system for laws there are some states which have legalized same sex marriage and others that haven’t. Two states will not legalize same sex marriage but will recognise it if it has taken place in a state which has. The opposition largely comes from the religious sector, although this makes very little sense to me as the bible says to ‘live and let live’, but there are some arguments from others which claim that same sex marriage will diminish the value of marriage and thus will affect those in ‘normal’ marriages. I’m not entirely sure how or why this would happen.
Another argument against same sex marriage in America is the effect it would have on children, there is an opinion that allowing gay people to marry will encouraged children to ‘turn gay’. There is also an argument about education, in that schools would have to change the way in which they teach about marriage which may possibly confuse children. Personally I think the best way to teach anyone about relationships is to teach respect, loyalty, tolerance and acceptance first.
I find it quite funny that a country which sees itself as the greatest nation in the world is so far behind when it comes to this issue.
In the U.K. there has been legalized Civil Partnerships for a number of years, there is now movement towards legalizing same sex marriage with a majority vote in the House of Commons. There is the same religious opposition, however the majority of people in the U.K. are in favour, certainly the people who I have discussed this with are of the opinion that it should be a basic right anyway.
This is what the basis of the argument is about, whilst Civil Partnerships go some way to addressing the legal side of a union for inheritance and legal purposes etc, there is still an imbalance with the status of marriage. This is why same sex marriage is important, not only to people within the LGBT community, but communities as a whole. In civilized society where there are laws against discrimination it is still rife, not towards ethnic minorities or women, but towards the men and women who fall in love with somebody of the same sex. That is what marriage is about, two people who love each other regardless of their age, race or gender. This is what we should be teaching our children, not some archaic theory of what marriage should be.
By Emma Pollard.