The family unit is one of the oldest institutions in the history of mankind. In connection to this the family can be defined as a group of people who are closed interrelated in most cases composed of a father, mother and children who are dependent on them. One of the important characteristics of families is the fact they have the ability to procreate to ensure that there is a continuation of generations. In this regard therefore, procreation cannot occur unless there is mating of the couples that makes up the family unit. In addition, this means that the mates have to be male and female. Nevertheless, the family unit has been facing numerous challenges in the recent times.
One of the greatest challenges to the family as a social unit is gay marriage. Since the mid 20th century, there have been step to recognize or rather legalize gay marriage as a family unit. In this regard, whereas the traditional family comprised of male and female, the current trends show leniency towards either male-male or female-female marriage in the society which was an abomination in the traditional family. With this in mind, the current society is aligned towards accepting gay marriage as a one form of the family unit without having the need to worry about the children and other moral issues that could be violated under such kind of marriage (Bowe 2006).
In reference to Bowe (2006) in an article that appeared in the New York Times, whereas procreation remains as one of the most important aspect of the family, there have been ways that have been invented by the ‘gay family’ as a way of promoting their family existence. As a matter of fact, whereas it was argued that the gay marriage could not be promoted as it violated the laws of nature in regard to procreation, there have been ways of producing children that are being promoted by the gay world as a defense to this argument. Following this point, there are arrangements that have been made in the recent past between the homosexuals and the lesbians to get children who would then be given to either the homosexual or the lesbian couples. Such arrangements were not existent in the traditional family unit.
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The place of sex in the family too has been redesigned with procreation being done without the need for a sexual act. According to Bowe (2006), gay marriages in their quest to have children employ artificial insemination as a way of transferring the spam from the man to a woman. Therefore, children are born without the man having ever met the woman in a sexual act. It is important to note that there is no medical reason to justify why men and women cannot copulate in a gay marriage arrangement to get children but rather it is in their belief that they are not supposed to sleep with members of the opposite sex.
Differences between Gay Families and ‘Traditional’ Families
There are many differences that exist between the gay families and the ‘traditional’ families. Among these differences is the fact that the couples in these families comprise of one gender; either males alone or females alone. With this in mind, sexual acts are done between males alone or females alone. Due to the fact that the couples in these families comprise of one gender, there are faced with a challenge of reproduction unlike in the traditional family whereby it is automatically known that when couples come together sexual, they will definitely reproduce. In other words, the gay intimate relationships are totally different from that of the ‘traditional’ family (Calhoun 155).
The family roles that are played by couples in the gay families also vary greatly. It is important to understand that the ‘tradition’ family unit does not struggle with dividing roles that need to be played in the family between genders. However, gay families are of the same gender and as a result, there is one gender that must masquerade as an opposite gender in order for this family to run as a normal family. For instance, in a lesbian family relationship, one of the partners has to take the role of a man despite the fact that both of them are females. This is unlike in the ‘traditional’ family whereby by roles are automatically assigned by gender. Similarly, whereas both parents, male and female are involved in bringing up their children in the ‘traditional’ family, the gay family demands that one person, either the man or woman who was involved in siring the child to give up his or her parental rights of raising his or her child (Bowe 2006).
Response of the government and policymakers to gay families
The government and policy makers’ response to gay families have gone through a serious transition. At first, it was illegal for persons to come together in a gay union and call themselves a family. According to Wrightsman (1999), there are different states that passed legislation that barred same sex marriages while at the same time refusing to recognize same sex marriages that were legal in other states (5). Therefore, gay families were denied the rights that were accorded to the ‘traditional’ family ties. For instance, gay couples were denied death benefits of their partners whenever one partner died. Similarly, they could not access health benefits under the banner of being in a marriage setup.
However, the recent times has seen a shift in these responses and the current world is experiencing acceptance of gay marriage unions as a family. In this regard, there are plans that are underway to accord gay marriage union all the rights that are accorded to the ‘traditional’ families. Similarly, the government and policy makers have been working on different ways that could possibly bring to an end discrimination that gay families have faced ever since they were brought into the limelight. However, this does not imply that gay marriages are finding everything easy. In fact, the government of the United States has continued to discriminate against gay marriages in regard to its immigration laws citing misuse of the ‘traditional’ family unit to gain access into the US (Haggerty 465).
Legal Challenges Facing Gay Families
There are different legal challenges that gay families face on a daily basis. To begin with, the recognition of the gay marriage itself has been an issue of contention for a long time now. In this regard, the societal values have continually argued against gay relationship as an issue that goes against the moral standards of the society. With this in mind, the legal society has found it difficult to define what constitutes a marriage and who can be termed as a spouse in any gay marriage arrangement. One of the contentious issues has been whether gay marriages are legal (Wrightsman 5).
Determining the constitutionality of gay marriages remains as one of the hardest tasks that the legal society has continued to face. Therefore, as the government work through its constitution to determine the legality of gay marriages, there are various issues that have continued to affect these marriages in a negative way. For instance, accessibility by gay couples or rather spouses to rights and privileges that are accorded to heterosexual marriages has been challenged by the constitution and the law societies across the US and around the globe. For instance, as mentioned earlier, gay marriages continue to face a high level of discrimination when it comes to immigration from one nation to another as they cannot immigrate as couples (Haggerty 465).
Struggles and Hurtles Facing Gay Families
There are different issues that gay families continue to struggle with. First, since these families are a recent form of families, the issue of being accepted in the society has continued to raise a lot of concerns. In line with this, the society believes that gay marriages go against the traditions and morals standards that have been laid in the society. Therefore, accepting gay families violates these standards. The challenge of acceptance does not emanate from the society alone but also from the government. Most constitutions across the globe do not recognize a marriage or family that is made up of the same sex (Wrightsman 6).
The issue of raising children has also continued to be a concern among the gay families. It is important for one to understand that it is biologically impossible for these families to get children in the natural way. As a result they have been fighting to be allowed to consider adoption of children as an alternative. On the other hand, the current gay community has been working on arrangements that are made between homosexuals and lesbians to have artificial insemination that would then grant these families an opportunity to have children of their own (Bowe 2006). Notably, this is still a challenge and may attract legal prosecution in some states.
Children in Gay Families
Despite the fact that gay families have been struggling on ways of raising their own children, there are different challenges that children that are raised in such a family face. As a matter of fact, these children have to come to terms that their parents are not like parents of other children. Therefore, most of them are discriminated against by their peers while others are totally avoided in school and in the society. Additionally, the society perceives such children as outcast and would shun away from being associated with them. In this regard, these children are affected psychologically as they grow up and thus live in isolation (Calhoun 151).
It is also important to take note of the fact these children grow in a family setup that is comprised of males or females alone. Consequently, they are unable to develop important cognitive skills that would enable them to relate well in the society (Bowe 2006). On the contrary, some of these children develop the opposite cognitive skills that cause them to be unable to relate in a healthy manner with people of the same sex and those of the opposite sex. For instance, male children growing in a lesbian family would fail to develop male characteristics that would enable them to relate well in the future.
Personal opinion regarding gay arrangements as families
The perception that gay marriages could be taken as families continues to raise many questions rather than answers. In this regard therefore, taking gay marriage arrangement as families is a distorted perception that goes against the moral standards of the society and defies the original definition of a family. Accordingly, these marriage arrangements cannot be viewed as families. In fact these arrangements are disgust to the society and to the religious world as whole. Looking at this issue from a different point of view, families are supposed to form an institution under which people would develop economically, emotionally, socially, spiritually and psychologically.
However, gay marriage arrangements have managed to produce people who are mentally disturbed, with unbalanced physical, social and cognitive development, especially among children who are adopted or born under arrangements made by such marriages. In addition, they are unable to fulfill one of the requirements of the family, i.e. procreation in the natural way. This goes against the principle of human beings that requires them to reproduce naturally. Similarly, sexual relationship is meant to be between a man and a woman and not otherwise. Thus, gay marriages cannot in any way whatsoever be termed as families.
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