Issues in gay marriages has come to forefront as more and more municipalities are being pressed to allow gay marriage. Same-sex marriage was first legalized in the Netherlands in 2001, and Canada followed suit in 2004. Many of the United States now have bans against same-sex marriage but some of these are being challenged as unconstitutional. It appears that gay marriage is here to stay.
Steven M Cohn, PhD, LMFT
The Portland Couples Counseling Center
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Portland, Oregon 97232
Favored by about 50% of Canadians, but only 45% of Americans, gay marriage continues to incite strong feelings. Just as the old adage says, “be careful of what you wish for, you just might get it.” As gays and lesbians push for (and in some cases receive) marriage rights, widespread opposition has become more vocal.(1) Perhaps this is how we ended up with the Defense of Marriage Act, passed mainly as a result of moral panic by right-wing conservatives.(2)
At one time, it appeared that issues in gay marriage were being actively discussed in Washington, but now activist Miriam Smith says, “There is not a single person in Washington who will get us anything . . . this is where we are now. Nowhere.”(3) In spite of the legal roadblocks, gay marriage issues remain an important fight. According to a recent article in The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality (4), “The fight for same-sex marriage is about honoring the feelings that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered individuals have for their partners, and it also highlights the continuing struggle experienced by [these] persons who demand equal rights, both legally and psychosocially.”
Without the legal sanction of gay marriage, same-sex couples face many issues: power of attorney, trusts, wills, and healthcare proxies – to name a few. Perhaps equally, if not more importantly, is the delicate task of explaining to involved children why the same-sex couple is not married. Morally conservative gays who try to encourage their children to abstain from sex before marriage have a particularly difficult time explaining why it is okay for the same-sex couple to engage in sexual activity without benefit of a legal marriage, but not okay for an opposite-gender teenaged unmarried couple. Some of these gay marriage issues are considered in a publication from the Australian Psychological Society. Some of these issues in gay marriages are considered in a publication from the Australian Psychological Society.
Beyond the moral repercussions, activists also point to gay marriage issues surrounding equality as a reason why gay marriage ought to be legalized. In December 2005, the new Civil Partnership Act came into force in Britain. For the first time, same-sex couples are now able, by registering their relationships with the state, to receive virtually all of the rights and benefits of civil marriage.(5) Some feel the same benefits should be extended to gays and lesbians in the United States, as a way of dealing with many of the gay marriage issues currently being experienced.
If you are living in an area where there are no civil unions or partnership registries, you may want to consult an attorney who can advise you on some ways to protect your rights as an unmarried couple until all of the issues in gay marriages are resolved legally.
You might also want to consult with a Relationship Specialist to talk about issues in gay marriages.
(1) Egan, Patrick, J. and Sherrill, Kenneth. Marriage and the Shifting Priorities of a New Generation of Lesbians and Gays. PS: Political Science & Politics. (2005) 38:229-232
(2) Adam, Barry D. The Defense of Marriage Act and American Exceptionalism: The “Gay Marriage” Panic in the United States. Journal of the History of Sexuality. Special Issue: Sexuality and Politics Since 1945. (2003) 12(2):259-276.
(3) Smith, Miriam. The Politics of Same-Sex Marriage in Canada and the United States. PS: Political Science and Politics (2005) 38:225-228.
(4) Alderson, Kevin G. A Phenomenological Investigation of Same-Sex Marriage. The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality (2004) 13.
(5) Wilkinson, Sue and Kitzinger, Celia. In Support of Equal Marriage: Why Civil Partnership is Not Enough. The Psychology of Women Section Review (2006). 8(1):54-57.
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