The Changing Attitudes to Same-sex Marriage

Societies around the world are changing for a more tolerant society

two men getting married

For many around the world, the definition of marriage is that of a man and a woman decide to live together in a romantic relationship for life. Now, this definition only talks about heterosexual relationships, but what happens when we talk about same-sex couples? The definition might remain very similar but when we consider the legal implications, we can tell that there are some significant differences to consider. In some countries, like Iran, Iraq, and Yemen, the law strictly prohibits the marriage of same-sex couples, while in the UK and Germany, people are afforded more freedom. According to The Guardian, there are 72 countries in the world where gay marriage is illegal.

A lot of people consider this as unfair since they claim that many of these legal differences are based around ethical or cultural prejudices, instead of considering the well-being of homosexual couples, which should have the same human rights as other couples. On the other hand, others supporting a much more conservative view believe that marriage should only happen between a man and a woman, due to religious and moral principles so to them everything else is completely out of the question. Unfortunately, this kind of disagreement results in a meaningful legal difference that clearly favours heterosexual couples over homosexual ones with benefits when dealing with a breakup or even the death of a spouse. This controversy promises to present many other issues in the future considering how much attention it has been getting in the last few years.

Ideas to consider for later:
• Has society been more open to same-sex couples in the last few years?
• Do you think it’s fair that same-sex couples don’t have the same rights as heterosexual couples?
• Do you think legislators create laws based on prejudice or bias?
• Can the people do anything to solve this problem if the government doesn’t do anything?
• Why do these biases against homosexuals still take place in the 21st century?

Useful vocabulary

Match the vocab below to their correct definition, there is only one potential answer.

Marriage Romantic partnership shared by 2 people, regardless of their sex.
Same-sex couples A formal and serious relationship between 2 people, regardless of their sex.
De facto Official law of the country that establishes what a marriage is and who can marry who, along with all their corresponding benefits.
Couple The union of two people who decide to live together for the rest of their lives.
Relationship A legal document that establishes when 2 people are officially married.
Cohabitation A legal document that declares when a person has officially deceased and lists all the corresponding details pertaining to this situation.
Wedding Religious or legal ceremony in which 2 people get married voluntarily and usually share it with others.
Marriage Certificate A Latin expression that establishes when something is official by the facts, but not by law.
Death Certificate To live together as husband and wife without being married.
Marriage Act A romantic relationship formed by 2 people from the same sex.

If you’re finding this difficult, the answers are available below.

Answers:

Marriage The union of two people who decide to live together for the rest of their lives.
Same-sex couples A romantic relationship formed by 2 people from the same sex.
De facto A Latin expression that establishes when something is official by the facts, but not by law.
Couple A formal and serious relationship between 2 people, regardless of their sex.
Relationship Romantic partnership shared by 2 people, regardless of their sex.
Cohabitation To live together as husband and wife without being married.
Religious or legal ceremony in which 2 people get married voluntarily and usually share it with others.
Marriage Certificate A legal document that establishes when 2 people are officially married.
Death Certificate A legal document that declares when a person has officially deceased and lists all the corresponding details pertaining to this situation.
Marriage Act Official law of the country that establishes what a marriage is and who can marry who, along with all their corresponding benefits

 

Video for discussion

Watch the video about and then try to answer the questions below.

Video comprehension questions:

a) What year did the Marriage Act define an official marriage?
b) What excludes same-sex couples from the Marriage Act?
c) According to the Marriage Act, are same-sex marriages from other countries still recognized here?
d) What does the definition of “de facto” in marriage depend on?
e) If the relationship is “de facto”, does the opinion of a judge matter in a legal issue? Why?
f) How can same-sex partners prove their relationship without a Marriage act?
g) Is it an advantage or a disadvantage for same-sex couples to have a marriage certificate? Why?
h) Why would some couples still choose to remain “de facto” instead of an official marriage?
i) Does legal marriage affect religious marriage in any way? Why?
j) If changes are made to the Marriage Act, will heterosexual couples lose any rights?


ANSWERS
a) In 2004.
b) The wording of the Marriage Act excludes same-sex couples from marriage.
c) No, any same-sex marriages are not recognized.
d) It depends on the state you live in, if you apply for a visa or any payments, and whether or not you live a romantic relationship with another person.
e) Yes, because if you are married a judge’s decision is not relevant on the nature of the relationship.
f) They have to provide information about the relationship in time before the accident and depending on the state it happens, or they may depend on the next-of-kin’s support and it may take months.
g) It is an advantage because in case of a partner’s death they can easily access and process all the legal issues to cover.
h) Because of the rules and benefits that different states may present for the couple.
i) Not at all, because they happen in different senses and involve different situations, so they are 2 separate things.
j) No, the changes would only give homosexual couples more rights without touching or changing the rest.

 

Potential debating topics for use in class:

• Same-sex marriages should not possess the same rights as heterosexual couples because they cannot procreate naturally.
• The Marriage Act presents discriminating laws and should be completely abolished.
• De facto relationships should be prohibited in order to avoid any legal confusions and complications.
• All countries should decide on a “world marriage act” that standardizes the definition of marriage in all countries.
• Death certificates should accept anyone as partner/couple in the case of a deceased partner.
• To avoid these problems marriage should be abolished and everyone should be able to live in a “free union”.
• Cohabitation, Marriage and De facto should be considered as the same, this way the legal processes would be simpler.
• If one’s religion doesn’t accept same-sex couples, one shouldn’t be legally allowed to be in one either.
• Heterosexual and homosexual marriages should not have the same rights, because they are not equal at all.
• People should not be allowed to move to another country or state in order to get a same-sex marriage because that would cause unwanted migratory issues.

Conclusion

It’s up to you now

Equal marriage can be a tricky subject to tackle because everyone has different views based on their moral, cultural and religious backgrounds. However, open communication and dialogue can help people find some middle ground. If you had to create a new Marriage Act, what would be your definition of marriage? Discuss in pairs and then share with the other pairs in order to build one definition collectively. Everyone’s input should be respected and considered. If you can’t find a middle ground, then write two versions or more of the Marriage Act.

Further reading

Mexico election: candidates avoid stances on same-sex marriage and abortion

Same-sex marriage

Same-Sex Marriage, Civil Unions, and Domestic Partnerships

Should Gay Marriage Be Legal?

 

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