Love, intimacy and marriage are often considered to be private affairs that take place between two individuals. While it is indeed true that love is a private affair, most laymen ignore the political and cultural ramifications that are associated with this issue. For instance, under the basic assumption that love is a private matter, same-sex partners who fall in love should be able to marry. However, because both state and federal governments have stipulated that marriage can only occur between a man and woman, most same-sex couples cannot engage in a private event that should have no public or cultural ramifications.
With the realization that the private acts of love and marriage can be so highly regulated by social and public constraints, there is a clear impetus to examine love in this context. To this end, this investigation considers the issue of gay or same-sex marriage and the dichotomy that is created in the context of this issue. As noted above, even though love and marriage are conceptualized as private affairs, there are a host of social and legal rules that mitigate this private affair. By examining the challenges wrought by gay marriage, it will be possible to effectively elucidate love as a social, legal and political construct that is not the private affair that most believe it to be.
[...] two individuals meet, fall in love and make a personal decision to marry—the issue of gay marriage brings to light the problems that exist when love and marriage are conceptualized in this particular context. Clearly, love is mitigated by both legal and cultural barriers. These barriers dictate to whom legal and social status will be grated as the result of marriage. As such, love and marriage are not a personal affair that takes place in the privacy of the couple's life; rather they are significant social institutions that have notable ramifications for how society and law is structured. [...]
[...] While Gatens does touch on the issue of women's oppression as it occurs in this system, it is clear that the patriarchal system that existed in society served as the benchmark for man to maximize his power and minimize women's participation in the development of laws governing love and marriage. This historical oppression provides a clear understanding of why women are often marginalized in the contract of marriage. While the specific development of the legal constructs of marriage provides a clear understanding as to why women continue to suffer some degree of gender discrimination, they also provide a clear understanding as to why same-sex couples cannot garner the legal status that they need to have their marriages legally recognized by the state. [...]
[...] The Legal Dimension Although the specific social context in which love and marriage are conceptualized provide some insight into the true challenge posed by legalizing gay marriage, the legal context of this issue also provides some insight in the challenges faced with regard to this issue. Gatens (1996) in her examination of love, lust and freedom in a political frame paints an overall picture of the development of love and marriage in society that clearly demonstrates why legal structures support love and marriage between heterosexual couples. [...]
[...] When the issue of gay marriage is framed in the context of the argument made by Jaggar, it becomes evident that the experience of love that occurs between a man and a woman is the principle model that is supported by culture. That is why when a man and a woman fall in love, this union is met with much social approval and social status. The heterosexual couple is the standard that society has come to expect. As such, the couple is looked upon favorably by society. [...]
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