The movement of same sex partnership emerged as a social phenomenon in the United States in the 1970s. However, it was not until 1993 that this became more influential when Hawaii’s Supreme Court declared the state’s prohibition of same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional in Baehr v. Lewin’s case. During the 21st Century, public support for legalising same-sex marriages has grown considerably under the name of “human rights” and various polls since 2011 reveal the great support Americans have towards the issue. Prior to 1996, the federal law did not define marriage; in such, the government would recognise any marriage recognised by the state, even if the marriage is opposed by few states due to anti-miscegenation laws prior to 1967. With the enacted Defence of Marriage Act (DOMA) in 1996, the federal law constrained the definition of marriage as being “a union of one man and one woman”. This prevented the federal governments from “recognising same sex marriages and allows each to refuse recognition performed in other states”. In 2010, DOMA was challenged by Massachusetts district court’s judge, Joseph Tauro, who argued that the denial of rights for same-sex couples is unconstitutional under the 10th amendment of the U.S Constitution of the 1971, which states that: “powers not granted to the federal government by the Constitution, nor prohibited to the States, are reserved to the States or the people”. Since, eight federal states considered DOMA to be unconstitutional not just in sexual orientation issue, but also in issues including bankruptcy, public employee benefits, estate taxes and immigration.
The November 2012 elections have witnessed a new emerging agenda within the US politics; same-sex marriage is not only recognised at the state level and several jurisdictions, but it has been recognised, through court legislative amendments and popular votes, by nine federal governments: Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, and Washington, as well as the district of Columbia and two Native American tribes. Rhode Island recognizes same-sex marriages in other jurisdictions and California (Proposition 8) recognises it on a conditional basis. The prohibition of same-sex marriage includes nine states by statues and other 29 by constitution. The aim of legalising homosexual marriage is to obtain marriage rights and benefits such as: employment assistance, immigration benefits, security income, disability payments, property and income taxes, joint parenting rights, Funeral and bereavement leave, insurance licenses among others.
Opponents of same-sex marriage strongly support the traditional marriage and its values, being considered a public institution and a source of life that ensures the continuance of human civilisation. The “Marriage Debate” is considered one of the major social issues facing the US administration today. Marriage is more than a state setting or a social construction; rather, it is a system that falls under natural law. Social constructivism is concerned with the social settings of a particular society, characterised by coexistence and interaction among the different groups. Although same-sex supporters consider marriage a social construction, defined by culture, thus it can be re-defined based on how every culture see it fit, many historians came to the conclusion that marriage is not a social construction; it may have been described by cultures but was never defined by them. Logically, it is not culture that shapes marriage, rather marriage and family construct culture: with a marriage between a man and a woman, reproduction happens and society enlarges, along with coexistence, society is constructed .
Same sex marriage is strongly opposed by religions; it will weaken the definition and respect for the institution of marriage and the traditional values of a family since the law of nature recognise man, women and child as the basis of societies. Religion remains a significant opponent of same-sex marriage. According to 2012 US statistics, 78.4 % of the population is Christian and other 4.7% is from other major religions (Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism etc.). Same-sex marriage is prohibited by all religions; from a religious Christian point of view, giving that it composes the majority in the US society, a perfect partnership should require a degree of differences which also corresponds to the design of our bodies and because it is the normal means through which human race was created. With this new law in the USA, religious bodies are unable to take actions in a secular state giving that religious institutions are separate from government.
This legalisation may introduce new forms of marriage: since gay marriage supporters argue that their marriage will not hurt anyone, further chains of marriage could be introduced such as polygamy. It encourages its spread and confuses children about gender roles and expectations of society and that only a man and a woman con pro-create. It demolishes the social sittings traditional marriage set for millennium years and this includes: paternity, family hierarchy and authority. It is difficult to teach them the values and traditions of a family when this confusion is imposed on them.
Supporters of same sex marriage believe that homosexuality is gaining more support as a lifestyle and biological causes are often used to explain sexual orientation: homosexuality is not something new; it has existed in ancient Greece. Supporters further argue that same gender marriage is a personal commitment and does not hurt society as long as the couples are in love. With this legalisation, the number of child adoptions will increase and initiatives will increase to have strong family values and a normal social lifestyle, enjoy the same financial benefits that heterosexual couples enjoy. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, “Religion is the chief obstacle for gay and lesbian political progress … the primary opposition to same-sex marriage appears to be theologically based; the claim that God does not like it”.
Besides the latter, homosexual partnership is seen inevitable in democratic societies as it guarantees the full implementation of democracy; denying this marriage is seen as a form of minority discrimination. Rights of minorities are to be protected in the US under the Bill of Rights, anti-slavery and equal protection amendments to benefit homosexual couples with marriage benefits that heterosexual couples enjoy. According to political process theory, marriage debate reveals deep conceptual problems with process theory. The theory is based on the argument that the “success of social movements depends on major social systems (i.e. the state and where it stands on the issue) not only on the movement’s resources”. In this concept, the “traditional marriage” will curb the implementation of a more substantive, realistic and nuanced conception of democratic equality”. Democracy endorses human rights that are embedded in the universal declaration of human rights and this include the recognition of dignity, equal rights, justice, freedom of speech and belief, freedom of ethnics and minorities, freedom from fear and want and these should be protected by the rule of law. USA is the universal model of the democratisation model and Obama being a democrat must endorse this charter. However, the marriage debate is not about religions, democracy and human rights; rather, it is about preserving what has existed for millennium years and the consequences of legalising same sex marriage is believed to swap the scales of human civilisation.