Concept of Marriage - Essay Example

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Although marriage is found cross-culturally and around the world, concepts of marriage differ greatly and in many cultures, marriage is an economic contract between husband…
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Marriage Marriage is a nearly universal phenomenon and found among cultures from all four corners of the globe. Although marriage is found cross-culturally and around the world, concepts of marriage differ greatly and in many cultures, marriage is an economic contract between husband and wife as well as among kinfolk. Traditionally, marriage is defined as the union of one man and one woman. This form of marriage is not universal however and not uniformly practiced around the world. In the United States for example, members of the Mormon community continue to practice polygamy, a marriage or union of one man with multiple wives. People in many African countries continue to practice polygamy and according to scholars, incidents of polygamy or plural marriage are highest in West Africa, where Senegal and Ghana have the “highest level of polygamy” at between 30 and 50% of all marriages (Hayase & Liaw 300). Despite the statistics, on a global scale, the traditional marriage between one man and one woman is the most common form of marriage.
Proponents of traditional marriage argue that marriage is an institution which has stood the test of time and is a fundamental social institution. They believe that marriage between one man and one woman serves a variety of social purposes including the procreation of children, the establishment of a “stable household for raising children” and the promotion of the nuclear family unit. They also establish that “children need both a male and female parent for proper development” (Kolasinski 3). Furthermore, many advocates for traditional marriage also argue that homosexuality is wrong and should not be encouraged by society. By conferring the right to marriage and the benefits of this union on same-sex couples, they argue that is exactly what society is doing.
Advocates for gay marriage emphatically argue that it is a civil rights issue and since marriage bestows certain social benefits, denying gays the right to marry infringes on their rights to equality. They further argue that marriage is not intrinsically tied to procreation and point to examples of artificial insemination to prove that lesbian couples can also give birth and rear children. It is also argued that civil unions – in lieu of actual marriage – fall short of the equality standard and promote the idea that same-sex marriage is both separate and unequal. The Supreme Court in Canada recently struck down the Marriage Act on the grounds that it was unconstitutional and similar challenges are being made before US courts. Put succinctly by an advocate of gay marriage, “what’s important here isn’t just that we finally have the legal right to marry, but that we as a community fought long and hard for this and have a real victory to hold on to.” (Lanutti 14). Perhaps it really is a question if human rights.
Same-sex marriage remains a highly topical issue which will remain in the news for a long time due to the controversial nature of the subject. Will the United States follow the lead of Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, Belgium and Spain or will it continue to promote the traditional definition of marriage? Only time will tell as the definition of marriage and peoples’ ideas of this concept continue to evolve.
Hayase, Y., & Liaw, K.W. (2007). Factors on polygamy in Sub-Saharan Africa: Findings based on the demographic and health surveys. The Developing Economies, 35(3), 293-327.
Kolasinski, A. (2004). The secular case against gay marriage. The Tech, 124(5), 3.
Lanutti, P.J. (2005). For better or worse: Exploring the meanings of same-sex marriage within the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 22:1, 5-18. Read More
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