Many countries have legalized same-sex marriage for the past years—a huge stride for the LGBTQ+ movement who’s been fighting for equal rights for a long time. The first country that allowed gay and lesbian couples was the Netherlands in 2000. Since then, several other European nations followed the same path, including England, France, Ireland, Germany, and many more.
In recent years, many nations have either legalized same-sex marriage or recognized some form of gay civil partnership. According to the World Economic Forum, an independent international organization committed to improving the state of the world by engaging business, political, academic, and other leaders of society to shape global, regional, and industry agendas, these include Thailand, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Taiwan, and Austria.
Fighting for the Legalization of Same-Sex Marriage
The support for same-sex marriage has increased. According to Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes, and trends shaping the world, about 62% of US adults in 2017 who favored allowing LGBTQ+ couples to wed—an increase from only 37% in 2009. The support has also increased among nearly all demographic groups. A 2019 report showed that 79% of Americans who are religiously unaffiliated favor same-sex marriage, 66% of white mainline Protestants, and 61% of Catholics favor same-sex marriage.
The growing support for same-sex marriage has encouraged more and more LGBTQ+ couples to tie the knot. Surveys conducted by Gallup in 2017 found out that 10.2% of LGBTQ+ Americans have been married to a same-sex partner, up from the months before same-sex marriage (7.9%) was legalized in the US. About 61% of same-sex cohabiting couples have been married as of 2017, up from 38% before the ruling.
Despite the progress, many countries have no laws that legalize or even protect homosexual couples. Discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in several areas like housing, employment, and access to services is still rampant. Without laws protecting the LGBTQ+ community, they would lack clear recourse and redress when they are fired, evicted, or refused service because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
“Wherever you see restrictions on individuals—in terms of speech, expression, or freedom of assembly—you see a crackdown on LGBT rights,” Julie Dorf, senior advisor to the Council for Global Equality, a Washington-based group that promotes LGBT rights in US foreign policy, said.
Importance of Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage
For years, many lawmakers have aimed to push back against the gains toward equal rights. Some of them have been vocal in denying the right of homosexual couples to get married. For instance, several states have considered and enacted laws that permit people to infringe on the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals and their families since 2015. They even believed that discriminating against them is necessary to uphold their own religious or moral beliefs.
Such laws have threatened not only the basic dignity of the LGBTQ+ community but also their lives. “We’re not being melodramatic. You’re being treated with disrespect, as a second-class citizen—not even a citizen, an outsider. And after a while, that begins to tear a person down, to hurt them emotionally and spiritually. Rejection is hard for everyone, and we get it over and over,” Brandiilyne Mangum-Dear, a lesbian pastor in Mississippi, said.
Many researchers and scientists agreed that there’s nothing wrong with allowing same-sex couples to get married. For one, they can also form stable, long-lasting relationships just like heterosexual couples. They have also found that they can form deep emotional attachments and commitments as well as ace similar issues concerning intimacy, love, loyalty, and stability, and they go through similar processes to address those issues. The most important part of why many activists advocate for the legalization of same-sex marriage is attaining the rights normal married couples have.
For instance, same-sex married couples can gift or pass an unlimited amount of assets or property to each other without needing to use any gift or estate tax exemptions. Those with retirement accounts have also significant advantages over non-married couples. According to Forbes, a global media company, focusing on business, investing, technology, entrepreneurship, leadership, and lifestyle, when one of them dies, the surviving spouse can combine their deceased spouse’s IRA with their own through a tax-free rollover.
Homosexual couples usually face a lot of discrimination just because can get married legally. Examples include employers refusing to change ‘miss’ to ‘mrs.’ on documentation; banks not understanding why civil partners wanted a joint account; forms not including civil partnership status options alongside marital status; hospitals refusing the recognize the civil partner as next of kin, and many more.
These forms of discrimination have consistently promoted stigmatization, prejudice, and discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community. The impact of marriage denial on the health and well-being of LGBTQ+ couples have also been widely examined.
Previous studies have found out that living in a country where same-sex marriage is outlawed can lead to chronic social stress and mental health problems. The American Psychological Association said that psychologists are particularly concerned that such stigma may undermine the healthy development of adolescents and young adults. A 2019 research by the American Medical Association reported that excluding sexual minorities from marriage was significantly contributing to the overall poor health among same-sex households compared to heterosexual households.
Aside from that, a US study revealed that LGBTQ+ individuals were far less psychologically distressed if they were in a legally recognized same-sex marriage than if they were not. According to The Conversation, a network of not-for-profit media outlets that publish news stories written by academics and researchers, depriving them of the benefits of marriage is not just an act of discrimination. The researchers said that it also hinders their mental health, wellbeing, and social mobility; disadvantages them by restricting their citizenship, and generally disenfranchises them from various cultural, legal, economic, and political aspects of their lives.
Opponents of same-sex marriage usually argue that children raised in same-sex households perform worse on a variety of life outcome measures when compared to those raised in a heterosexual household. However, several scientific studies have already debunked this. Research has shown that same-sex couples are as fit and capable parents as heterosexual couples and that their children are just as psychologically healthy and well adjusted.