While a popular catchphrase states that “family is a circle of friends that love you”, from a legal standpoint, the word “family” requires definition. Traditionally, a family has been defined as a married heterosexual couple and their children, but as more and more states are legalizing same-sex marriage, new questions arise. Regardless of one's position about whether gay marriage should be legal, it is clear that the definition of family is changing and the legal system will need to address these changes. Whether it is determining who should be a custodial parent, clarifying adoption processes, or implementing legal protections in cases of divorce, family law must grow and change along with the definition of family.
Through my research, I hope to present point/counterpoint in each of these three areas, as an illustration of how our legal system needs to adapt. This process will encourage the reader not just to consider the broader impact of legalizing gay marriage, but also encourage the reader to question his or her own definition of “family” by considering how unevenly existing laws have been applied. Law changes in this area stand to impact not just gay couples, but even traditional heterosexual couples (Brennan). I am not seeking to convince my audience that gay marriage is right; I am trying to provide them with food for thought regarding those challenges that are faced by gay spouses and suggest ways for future laws to be more inclusive of the new paradigm.
Review of Sources
While I am still locating specific sources to further my thesis, as outlined in my research plan, .
I am primarily using Internet resources. This is due not only to time constraints, but to the currency of the sources that are best suited to this topic, considering that anti-gay legislation is passed and overturned on a daily basis. Feature articles from recognized newspapers should provide me with sufficient anecdotes and illustrations with no discernible agenda, so I shall be focusing on those, rather than blog posts from impacted couples. As an example, the New York Times article gives a extrapolation of what may be yet to come with regard to adoption trends (McKinley). The article “The Peculiar Mechanics of Gay Divorce” is a wealth of anecdotes and pull quotes from field authorities. Because these articles are for mass consumption magazines, their tone is generally neutral, and journalistic practice has established them as credible sources.
One specific resource upon which I have been heavily reliant in developing my thesis has been "The Future Impact of Same-Sex Marriage: More Questions Than Answers." This paper, written by a Professor of Law at Georgetown University, delves into the historical background of marriage in America, provides statistics on same-sex couples, and introduces questions on how legalization of gay marriage will impact American law (Hunter). Its sources provide a wealth of additional information, to be explored further during the...