Gay marriage is a topic that is heavily debated in this day and age. Whether or not it should be legal for homosexuals to get married is a theme that authors Andrew Sullivan, who wrote “For Gay Marriage” and William J. Bennett, who wrote “Against Gay Marriage” use in there articles. The main points the authors both discus is the meaning of marriage itself, the social impact same sex marriage will have on society, and the influence on children and teens. Although, the authors have similar themes disused in their topics, there are more differences in how they view same sex marriage.
One of the main topics discussed in both of the articles is the meaning of marriage. Sullivan describes marriage as a “social and public recognition of a private commitment” (pg.267). Marriage is a highly familiar public recognition of personal integrity that can be shared between anyone even same sex couples (Sullivan, 267). Sullivan argues that marriage is an “emotional, financial, and psychological bond between two people” (pg.267). This expresses the overall opinion of the article that marriage is not only for a man and a woman, but also for anyone who can have that bond with another person. On the other hand, Bennett believes that marriage should be between a man and a woman. Bennett argues, “Recognizing the legal union of gay and lesbian couples would represent a profound change in the meaning and definition of marriage”, with this statement Bennett claims that if same sex marriage was to be legal, it would change the whole meaning of marriage itself making it different for even a man and a woman to get married. The idea of marriage itself is not supposed to change, it is already a fragile thing that can’t be bent out of shape to fit in same sex marriage (Bennett, 271). Same sex marriage would change the view on marriage; it would change it for the better. Gay and lesbian couples deserve to have a public recognition of their commitment to each other. Today’s new life styles with same sex couples shows that our society as a hole is moving forward and evolving into a place where everything is not the same but is full of diversities.
Another main theme that both authors discuss is the impact legalizing same sex marriage will have on society. Sullivan believes, “Marriage provides an anchor, if an arbitrary and often weak one, in the maelstrom of sex and relationships to which we are all prone. It provides a mechanism for emotional and economic security”. With is statement Sullivan argues that, even though the sanction on marriage is not the same as it used to be it is still a big part of today’s social norms. On the other hand Bennett states, “To insist that we maintain this traditional understanding of marriage is not an attempt to put others down. It is simply an acknowledgment and celebration of our most precious and important social act”. Bennett believes that marriage is a traditional thing that that we don’t change because it is such a sacred thing that two people share in a very public way. The fact is that most people now-a-days are okay with gay and lesbian couples and marriages. People are more comfortable with the ideas of same sex marriage. There are some people in the world who are strongly against it but most are for the rights of gay marriage. So yes, it is affecting society but in a better way, it is causing people to become more aware of things. Overall the idea of same sex marriage is not causing society to collapse it is just shaping the way people view marriage. The biggest theme that Sullivan and Bennett argue is the impact of same sex marriages and couples on children and teens. Sullivan claims, “There is no evidence that shows any deleterious impact on a child brought up by two homosexual parents…” this shows that Sullivan believes it does not matter if a child has gay or lesbian parents. As long as the child is loved it does not matter. To show the opposing view on the topic of children and teens being affected by same sex marriage, Bennett supports his side with an article stating, “Teenagers said it has become ‘cool’ for students to proclaim they are gay or bisexual – even for some who are not.” With this claim Bennett is stating that with all the talk about people’s sexuality it is causing them to conform into this new way of thinking. The idea of being homosexual is crossing the minds of many people, mostly young teens.
The statement about how there are so many kids coming out as being gay or bisexual recently does not mean that the idea of same sex marriage is negatively affecting them. If anything, all the talk about being homosexual or bisexual is giving teens a chance to feel comfortable “coming out” to their friends and family. This is giving teens a way to show who they really are. Not too many years ago it was rare for teens to come out as being gay because there was such a negative stigma attached to it, but with the new development of society, people are more open to the idea of people being gay. Also, having same sex parents will not negatively affect a child. If they give equal rights to both same sex couples and straight coupes when it comes to adopting children, it should not matter whether or not a child has same sex parents or not. The only thing that would matter is that if the child that they adopted is loved and in a safe environment. In conclusion, both Sullivan and Bennett hit on the same themes thought there essays. Even though they have very different views of gay marriage they both seem to stress the importance of the meaning of marriage, society’s reactions to same sex marriage, and the impact that it has on children and teens. They both express their opinions in ways that are logical and well thought out.