Denial of Gay Marriage: Macro Theories and Effects on the Population - Sociology Essay Example

Denial of Gay Marriage: Macro Theories and Effects on the Population Introduction and Effects For thousands of years heterosexual couples have been wed into the institution of marriage - Denial of Gay Marriage: Macro Theories and Effects on the Population introduction. Until recently, the population of same sex partners who are denied equal familial rights was primarily only an issue within the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered (GBLT) community. Same sex relationships parallel those of traditional marriage such as commitment, sacrifice, and sharing of responsibilities (Smith, 2009). However, homosexuals are only afforded a private contract rather than public recognition.

Some of the hurdles that marriage equality faces are religion, children being brought up with a lack of acceptance towards people who are different and legislation. Same sex couples cease to receive benefits equivalent to those of heterosexual couples. For example, health care benefits; since gays cannot marry—they cannot be carried under spousal health insurance. Also regarding health, if calamity arises and life changing decisions are required the significant other would legally have no say in decisions that would need to be made.


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Should death arise, the living partner could be left with nothing due to next of kin. Although marriage inequality is clearly discrimination against homosexuals, there are currently laws to strengthen this oppression. In fact, The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) states that only thirteen out of the fifty United States have “[n]o same- sex marriage prohibitions (2013). The 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) prevents homosexual couples from receiving benefits traditionally given to a spouse by defining the word ‘marriage’ as a “legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife” (H.

R. , 1996). It is difficult to pose an argument with this traditional definition. Theory and Causal Explanations Social systems theory Marital type relationships have always existed but began to gain national attention in 1993 with the ruling of a Hawaii case in which judges declared that there must be a compelling reason not to extend equal marriage rights to gays (Fingerhut, 2011). This has sparked controversy both for and against gay marriage because the homeostasis of many subsystems is at stake. People often fear what they do not know or understand.

It is also common to for humans to blindly follow social norms based on dogmatic principle. This is of course true within the macro environment. Through the lens of the systems perspective we can begin to understand how fear plays a significant role in marriage inequality. Communities naturally feel secure when they are at a state of homeostasis. A large part of this balance has traditionally been due to heterosexual norms of a husband performing male duties and a wife having her specific obligations as well.

These standards filter out into the larger community where members interact with each other. Homosexuality blurs these boundaries of what is expected of each gender creating a fear that that the larger population will cease to have its needs met. Functionalist Perspective The ban on marriage equality is also a religious debate because many fear that the shifting of familial makeup will disrupt religious values. Applying a functionalist theory to the problem can help us understand the causes for people adhering to the dogmatic “rules” of religion.

This theory posits that people value what they perceive is best for society and the greater good. Due to this, many religionists protest gay marriage; they feel they are doing a social justice. Since all of society’s parts are interrelated it makes sense that if homosexuals are doing “the wrong thing” a stop should put to it. Their manifest goal is to eliminate the evil gay acts thus creating stability in their community. They really just want what is best for the community and mean no harm. They are however blind to what is actually going on that is producing latent consequences.

As Dickson puts it, “[O]pression is an outcome of Christian efforts to remain within the perceived parameters of [the] gospel” (2012). One of the reasons it is so difficult to change policy is because these religious functionalists believe that if homosexuals are permitted to be legally wed, some sort of wrath of god will be dammed upon us. What ends up happening is that their actions and blindness to see reality actually has negative consequences. They fear Social disorganization and fight to keep their paradigm from shifting to a more inclusive frame of mind.

They view the new family makeup as breakdown of social structure. This is because old interpretations of the Bible describe homosexuality as being wrong. That marriage is a special bond that God intended for a man and a woman. Symbolic Interactionist Theory Society is much more than individuals added together, the sum of society’s parts is greater than the whole. As we try to understand why discrimination takes place in any oppressed population it is helpful to realize that it is not necessarily an individual’s fault; they are simply a victim of collective group think.

For instance, parents and guardians who have a lack of acceptance and understanding towards people who are different generally raise children that have the same beliefs. My favorite looking glass into a population is the symbolic interactionist theory which emphasizes that peoples interactions with each other enable them to make sense of themselves (Charon, 2009). The way I interpret this is that the chief motivation people have are the emotions of love and fear. What or whom we love is usually what is most important to us. Conversely, those in which we fear we automatically attempt to repel.

This obviously affects our behaviors, however, when those behaviors are not what is expected of us problems can arise. Such is so with culture. When an individual acts in a way that is acceptable in one culture while in the social construct of another it may be considered deviant behavior. This is so of ideals as well. As children grow up and are molded by society they begin to lose their identity which then morphs into society’s collective identity of who the child is “supposed to be. ” Not only do others label us but we do ourselves as well. We either are, or are not. We either will, or will not.

Luckily, in contemporary society this is diminishing. Partially due to the fact that those who came before us shaped the society they were in to be more accepting of individuals and of equality. Being a part of the LGBT community, I had a difficult time defining who I was in early adulthood. It was not anything my parents did or did not do, it was what I thought society thought of me; this definitely stunted my growth into the woman I am today. Somewhere deep inside myself I knew that I was gay but that if I really let myself believe that’s who I was that I was doomed to a future of being other.

Although I did not fully realize what was going on in the background of my psyche, I was terrified and attempted to live the life society laid out for me. It just does not work like that forever. Charmaz and Belgrave state that society makes us, and in turn we shape society (2013). This means that discrimination breeds discrimination—and love, tolerance and acceptance foster their selves as well. Barriers American politics and culture, a personal perspective on issues of family, government, and religion create barriers to the LGBT community having equal rights.

Benefits to domestic partners continue to be minimal in comparison to heterosexuals. Laws such as DOMA are actively being repealed all over the country but they do still exist. With that, the constitution does not protect an entire population equally to the rest of the population. Legal and religious definitions of committed relationships continue to be geared towards heterosexual partners. I believe that the largest gap in service is the one religion creates. Advocacy and Groups in Public I believe that the most effective scope for advocacy is through social action groups.

These types of task groups would be very beneficial in altering the familial oppression of the GLBT community. Here, the worker would act as a catalyst for the alteration of conditions that cause and give rise to GLBT marital disparities. They do this by bringing to light and attempting to influence policymakers and the like. This group would consist of LGBT members of the community, social workers, clients, perhaps even organizations whom share the same goals. I find this task group most beneficial because people work together in attempt to tackle the root of the problem rather than put a sort of band-aid on it (Smith, 2013).

In this instance we will work to diminish oppression and issues of inequality within the GLBT community; specifically, marriage. Rather than be about persuasion, it is about changing the discriminative paradigm that lies within. A step towards redefining marriage has already naturally been taking place as the etymology of the word marriage itself begins to fit modern connotation. The impact of working collectively as a group has prompted an addition to the definition of marriage in The Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

It now includes “the state of being united to a person of the same sex in a relationship like that of a traditional marriage” (marriage, 2011). Closely related concepts such as domestic partnership and civil unions are currently a strong argument for gay marriage. This is because it is a step in the right direction. Without the efforts of groups, large and small, this advancement would not be afforded to same sex couples. A huge asset to the LGBT community and efforts to dispel myths are led by social action groups such as the Human Rights Campaign (HRC).

Although this organization is not specially for LGBT equality, it is the current main topic. Groups such as this advocate for all forms of equality including same sex marriages. The way this is possible is through the organization of efforts and each person being an integral piece of the puzzle. Some help dispel the myths of the bible and bring modern views to old thinking. Others do child advocacy and perhaps go to schools to talk to youngsters about equality and human rights. The amount of advocacy is limitless, especially with groups as a framework for organization.

Theoretical Connections We are in a time where society’s thoughts, views and opinions regarding sexuality are changing rapidly. Social workers use the group setting to enhance support for its members who have common interests. Social action groups are needed because they can adapt to ongoing environmental alterations (Kirst-Ashman, 2011, p. 79). For instance, with the application of the systems theory subsystems would have specific tasks and objectives. Some would focus on policy change while others focus on outreach and education to minimize homosexual stigma.

When people perceive a threat to their viewpoints emotions will naturally be exhibited. A homeostatic group can use this as an asset by communicating what the thoughts are behind the emotions and applying them to the change efforts. In addition, people in groups provide mutual support. The closer society gets to accepting gay marriage, the closer we get to becoming a system of orderly, interrelated, elements that function as a whole. DOMA activists want these boundaries to stay where they are but GLBT’s and their allies are pushing the borders, attempting to make a portion of society not a separate entity.

For intervention we must take input in the form of member feedback and use it to formulate output in the form of intervention. Currently, nontraditional marriage is at a state of entropy. Society is approaching negative entropy with every stride made such as the legalization of gay marriage in some states. Advocacy and Task Implementation My main goal to have impact on this population is to form social action groups. Different groups will be responsible for different areas such as religious advocacy, education to the population and especially children and of course policy change.

From a functionalist perspective, religionists that are in opposition to gay marriage in the name of doing a social justice are actually doing an injustice to an even greater community, the one where we are all interrelated and equal as part of the human race. As a practitioner and advocate I can work with groups to dispel the fallacies surrounding homosexual family systems and the topic in general. I stress the importance of groups because when people come together and in collaborative efforts to work towards a common goal they are way more effective.

The groups can be systematically organized to enable tasks and objectives to get done efficiently. Another positive aspect of group work in advocacy with a marginalized population is that of peer support. The support this population can give each other feeds off itself and not only helps the individuals; it fosters new ideas for advocacy and needed interventions in the community. Ethical Dilemmas The ethical dilemmas I could potentially face are not involving personal feelings while advocating, respecting opinions of all individuals

and maintaining neutrality. Molyneux, Kamuya & Marsh write that realizing the potential for encountering an ethical dilemma is the first and largest step towards its resolution (2010). Now that I do recognize these potential ethical dilemmas for what they are, I can look at each one objectively and talk to my peers about situations in which they would come up as well as my reactions. Conclusion As a practitioner and advocate I can work with groups to dispel the fallacies surrounding homosexual family systems and the topic in general.

Western culture marriage has become an emotional and psychological bond; in this aspect homosexuals and heterosexuals are the same, thus legally denying marriage to homosexuals is unequal. Culture evolves over the years; we have learned that it imposed on African Americans rights to enslave them and that women are equal enough to men to have the right to vote. I believe that one day homosexual marriages will not even be an issue. As a society we learn and grow, but all at different speeds. Once it was un-heard of for blacks to go to school with whites.

Today there are people with racist opinions about it but the majority people know that there is nothing different about black people. The same will be true for homosexuality, and parenting. Our culture is beginning to realize the injustice that is being done to homosexuals. References Charmaz, K. , Belgrave, L. L. (2013). Modern symbolic interaction theory and health. Medical Sociology on the Move. 11-39 Charon, J. M. , & Hall, P. (2009). Symbolic interactionism: An introduction, an interpretation, an integration. Dickson, C. W. (2012).

Inseverability, religious exemptions, and New York’s same-sex marriage law. Rev. 181. Retrieved from http://ssrn. com/abstract=2056825 Fingerhut, A. W. , Riggle, E. D. B. and Rostosky, S. S. (2011). Same-sex marriage: The social and psychological implications of policy and debates. Journal of Social Issues, 67: 225–241. doi: 10. 1111/j. 1540-4560. 2011. 01695. x H. R. 3396–104th Congress: Defense of Marriage Act. (1996). Human Rights Campaign. (2013). Marriage prohibitions. Available at http://www. hrc. org/marriage-center Kirst-Ashman, K. K. (2011).

Human Behavior in the Macro Social Environment (An empowerment approach to Understanding Communities, Organizations, and Groups) (3rd Edition). Belmont, CA: Thomson Higher Education. Marriage. 2011. In Merriam-Webster. com. Retrieved April 16, 2013, from http://www. merriam-webster. com/dictionary/marriage Molyneux, S. , Kamuya, D. , & Marsh, V. (2010). Community members face crucial, often under-recognized, ethical dilemmas. The American Journal of Bioethics, 10:3. DOI:10. 1080/15265161003708623 Smith, T. L. (2009). A critique of for gay marriage, 1-6. Smith, T. L. (2013). Social action groups, 2-4.

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