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Social reasons for legalising gay marriage

By Valerie Yule - posted Friday, 1 June 2012

The three personal reasons to legalise gay marriage are given in the reasons for marriage set out in the old Anglican marriage service. They also affect the whole society: The mutual comfort, help and support one for the other, with lifelong security; the rearing of children; and to give a socially approved and safe outlet for sexual desire.

The first reason is obvious for gay as well as straight couples. Most of us need a back up in our way through life - someone we can depend upon in sickness and in health, for richer, for poorer, and who will share our dearest thoughts and pleasures. 

The second reason needs stressing. Nobody seems to realise it. Women often marry for the sake of children rather than for sex or to have a man. Legalising gay marriage would prevent many fatal mixed-sex marriages in which women married horrid men for the sake of having children. It would give a chance to women who never have a chance of children in marriage because no man asks them.


It would give more chance to children who now are brought up in single-carer households because women left a horrible mixed marriage or had children without a partner. Now these children can have two people caring for them, which is better than one, which is too precarious. Now these women can marry another woman and bring up children whom they love, in safety. It may also be the case with gay men marrying each other; I cannot say. They would probably be gentle fathers.

The third reason for marriage, preventing sexual desire being a cause of havoc in society, is not effective with many heterosexual marriages as they are, in our society. Premarital sex, abandoned children, adultery, serial monogamy and spread of STDs are not prevented for a proportion of the heterosexual population. Would it be any better for gays who opted for marriage?  The ideal is there – a certain number of heterosexuals cling to it, and possibly a certain number of gays would too. But what proportion?

A fourth reason is that to see the high value being placed upon marriage might make some heterosexual couples take it more seriously than they do now. And a fifth reason is the general social approval of a wedding in a person’s life, as well as having celebrations of being born and eventual death. Some happiness and brightness in life for everybody who attends one! Weddings can be overdone, of course - to cost over $20,000 seems to me ridiculous. But you can choose how much you wish to spend. And how much fun the occasion can be for everyone who attends.

A decade’s trial of same-sex marriages compared with man-woman marriages would be a worthwhile sociological investigation. Does extending marriage to be possible for all raise the status of marriage and its degree of permanence? Does same-sex marriage have the same degree of impermanence as presently with man-woman marriages, or is there a difference, with both types given more permanence by the new value put on it by a wider range of adults? Same-sex marriages that prove as liable to break-up as man-woman marriages, have as little point to them.

What is the result for the children? A comparison may be made with how the children grow up.  Do they suffer the same risks of violence or sexual abuse within different types of marriage? What are the sexual orientations of children within different types of family? What happens to homophobia when married couples may be gay as well as straight? Are they seen as more respectable? Does tolerance of diversity within our society extend further, to everyone who may be different, and is no danger to others?



There are other reflections on how marriage might be better run in our society. 

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About the Author

Valerie Yule is a writer and researcher on imagination, literacy and social issues.

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