Same-Sex Marriage in the U.S.

This paper explores the sociological underpinnings of the issue regarding the legalization of same-sex marriage.

Using the Durkheimian paradigm, the author explains this debate in terms of its symbolic meaning to the parties involved, opponents, and proponents of same-sex marriage. Further, this paper postulates that the debate regarding this issue is a symbolic debate between two competing world views and elaborates on these world views, describing the sociological context of each side of the debate, providing compelling examples and evidence to suggest that socioeconomic factors, educational background, and geographical location are reliable predictors of individual opinion with regard to the issue of same-sex marriage. Main paper points address the legal debate concerning the limitation of governmental involvement, which, however, is merely a legal rationalization for two competing ideologies struggling to become the predominant collective consciousness in American culture and politics. The world views of both parties are largely affected by external social facts, such as economics, race, education, location, and religion. Key words include Durkheim, collective consciousness, world view, mechanical solidarity, organic solidarity, and functionalism.
“The question of whether or not to permit the recognition of same-sex unions has faced over half of the state legislatures in the United States in the past 5 years. Perhaps the most highly publicized case involves three gay couples who filed suit against the state of Hawaii as a result of the state’s refusal to issue marriage licenses to the couples. The couples alleged that the state’s prohibition of gay marriage was a result of gender discrimination and thus violated the state’s Equal Rights Amendment. A trial court ruled against the group, but in a 1993 appeal, the state’s Supreme Court overturned the earlier court’s ruling and ordered the state to distribute marriage licenses to gay couples, but delayed the order pending appeal. In 1999, the state’s Supreme Court rendered the campaign for gay marriage in Hawaii moot by citing a 1998 amendment to the Hawaii Constitution, which stated that the lawmakers of Hawaii have the authority to limit the recognition of marriage to opposite-sex partners.”

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