What is Gay Marriage?

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  • Written By: G. Wiesen
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 10 November 2019
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Gay marriage typically refers to a legally recognized union between two adults of the same gender. There has been a great deal of debate, much of which continues, in many countries over whether such marriages should be legally allowed and recognized. Much of this debate centers on numerous issues presented by those on both sides of the issue, including religious objections, the idea of a traditional definition of marriage, the rights of those who wish to get married, and the impact that allowing or denying such marriages has on a society. Gay marriage is illegal in some countries, while other countries may wholly or partially legalize gay marriages.

Also referred to as same-sex marriage, gay marriage refers to a legal recognition of two adults in a same-sex relationship as married. This means that debate and controversy around the subject of gay marriage often relates to whether such marriages are allowed and recognized by the laws and government of a country or region. While many people may see marriage as a primarily religious notion, they are typically viewed as a legal issue in relation to how a country deals with marriage.


This is because many laws in a country impact those who are married and those who are not married in separate ways. In the US, for example, when one person dies, anyone who survives him or her and was married to him or her has certain rights that an unmarried, though romantically involved, individual may not have. This means that the arguments regarding gay marriage often connect to the rights that same-sex couples wish to have. Those in favor of gay marriage also argue that children raised by same-sex couples are more likely to have a more positive home life if they can view their parents as legally married and recognized.

There are also arguments for gay marriage that indicate that denying same-sex couples the right to marry is a form of discrimination. Since this would be a form of government-sanctioned discrimination, supporters argue, it provides a basis for others to discriminate against people based on gender identity and sexual preference. This argument, however, is strongly contested by those who oppose gay marriages based on the idea that marriage is not an inherent right.

Those opposed to gay marriage often argue against it on religious grounds. While not all religions are clearly against homosexual relationships, there are many that include direct messages against such unions. In countries such as the US, which has a historical policy encouraging the separation of religion and government, supporters of gay marriages argue that such religious motivations should not affect laws and government regulations.

There are also arguments against same-sex marriage based upon the term “marriage” and the definition of that term. This is hotly contested, however, as the term does not always have a clear definition to those involved in such debates, and many definitions are difficult to apply to those who may be transgender. There have also been efforts to grant same-sex couples “civil unions” that would bestow many or all of the same rights as marriage onto those couples. This is largely rebuked, however, as supporters of gay marriages argue that such policies mirror the “separate but equal” doctrine of discrimination seen in the US prior to the civil rights movement.



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