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Gay Marriage Scapegoat Essay

1405 words - 6 pages

Gay Marriage ScapegoatIs legalizing gay unions going to corrupt the sanctity of marriage as we know it? Surprisingly enough, many right wing conservatives feel that this is true. In 2001 the Census Bureau reported that during the 1990s the number of unmarried-partner households in the United States increased by 72 percent. This statistic deserved wider notice than it received. But now, with nearly five million cohabiting couples in the U.S., this shift in the traditional family is becoming more apparent. Cohabitation has been increasing for the past few decades, but such large numbers did not always exist. Marriage, meanwhile, is headed in the other direction. For example, the number of marriages for women between the ages of twenty and twenty-five has declined nearly thirty percent since 1970. A lot of factors are at work here - for example, people are marrying later - but it seems clear that one of them is the rise in cohabitation, or living together in a more or less sexual relationship without being married. Despite the fact that the preceding numbers also include same-sex partners, conservatives have managed to separate the homosexual and heterosexual cohabitants. Most heterosexual couples these days seem to be perfectly content with living together without officially tying the knot.Whether cohabitation is a bad thing is an aggressive question, but it is almost certainly not a good thing. Cohabitation tends to be both less stable and less happy than marriage, and this appears to be true even considering the philosophy that there might be two different kinds of people: the cohabiting type and the marrying type. In a situation where cohabitation is the defining label, research shows that the strong feeling of commitment is of lesser importance because there is not a binding label for the couple. "Research suggests that marriage itself brings something beneficial to the table" (Rauch). And just the fact that more than a third of cohabiting households contain children, it is hard to be ecstatic about the trend. The question of who is to blame for the destruction of the traditional family has been posed throughout the past twenty or thirty years. And many have come up with homosexual couples. Cohabitation used to be looked down upon. "Living in sin" it has been called in the past, even among the higher classes. However, in today's society cohabitation is viewed as an equal alternative to wedlock. Despite the inevitability of cohabitation in the United States due to the lack of social and economic pressures, the growing acceptance and visibility of same-sex couples has definitely hurried the change along. Even someone using the term "unmarried partner" gives cohabitation a sense of dignity and social acceptance. So if cohabitation (among heterosexual couples) is an accepted form of union, then (conservatives say) it must be the homosexual couples (wanting to be wed) who undermine marriage.However, it does not seem to be the same-sex couples that...

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