Same-sex couples have to surmount both social and legal challenges throughout their lives. The society is skeptical on the issue of same-sex marriages. Some states in the United States of America have not legalized same-sex unions and this aspect complicates the process of adding children to same-sex families. Conventionally, same-sex couples add children to their families via adoption. However, the adoption process involves legal issues and thus it becomes a big problem for such couples in states where same-sex marriages are illegal.
Therefore, in the light of this understanding, this paper seeks to highlight the challenges that same-sex couples face in the process of adding children to their marriages or relationships. The hypothesis holds that same-sex couples face countless issues when deciding to add children to their families.
Applicable sociological theories and concepts
The key sociological theories and concepts surrounding the contentious issue of same-sex couples adding children to their families is structural functionalism, the social conflict theory, and symbolic interactionism. Structural functionalism questions the issue of same-sex unions based on their functionality. For instance, how would such couples get children in the quest to maintain the functions of a conventional family? The social conflict theorists “view same-sex marriage as deviant behavior because it does not meet the social norms that the society has traditionally accepted, and therefore it is a cause of conflict” (Bernstein & Taylor, 2013, p.104). in this context, same-sex marriages come out as abnormal set ups, which underscores the conflict and divisions in the society concerning the issue.
On the other side, symbolic interactionism addresses “subjective materials and what it means to the people” (Bernstein & Taylor, 2013, p.116). In this case, people attach negative meanings to same-sex couples adding children to their families. For instance, the critics of this form of marriages hold that children brought up by same-sex parents grow abnormally psychologically, which threatens the wellbeing of the society.
Given the numerous controversies surrounding the issue of same-sex couples adding children to their marriages, a sociological research would add manifold value to the issue, thus yielding practical implications on the same. For instance, this kind of research would answer the controversial question on how same-sex marriages affect the family set up in the society. A comparative sociological issue would highlight such effects by studying children that have been raised under same-sex marriages to establish how they progress in life as compared to their counterparts in normal family set ups. This understanding would perhaps change the way the government and society view same-sex marriages and facilitate the legalization of the same in states where the issue remains contentious.
The first crucial evidence that same-sex partners encounter numerous issues whilst deciding to add children to their families lies in the complementarity model. In this model, the society views marriage as “a sexual community, in which procreation and nurturing of children are the defining purpose of marriage” (Kendell, 2012, p.94). Therefore, based on this premise, same-sex unions do not pass the test of marriage as a procreation institution.
In other words, children are meant to be born not adopted, and thus the consensus is that a person that cannot be involved in a productive heterosexual relationship to bear children does not have the capacity or the moral authority to raise children. However, this assertion is biased for one’s sexual orientation might not necessarily affect his/her capacity to raise children. This understanding underscores the alternative view to the issue.
From this alternative point of view, the critics of such marriages and adoptions should perhaps appreciate the relationship between one’s sexual orientation and the capacity or ability to raise children. Currently, the research on the effects of same-sex parenthood on children brought up under such set ups is limited. Therefore, people should give this alternative view a chance in a bid to establish the trends via a sociological research. This assertion underscores one of the many practical implications of sociological study on the subject of same-sex partners adding children to their families.
The second evidence revolves on marriage laws and legality of same-sex unions. Marriage laws across the United States hinge on the “assumption that as a matter of justice, the moral right to marry, establish a family, and educate one’s children, should be embodied in positive legal rights” (Bornstein & Bergman, 2010, p.132). In this context, same-sex marriages do not embody the ‘positive legal rights’, which explains their illegality in most states in the US.
Even in areas where such adoptions are legalized, they come with numerous restrictions, both socially and financially. For instance, the two same-sex partners in a marriage union might not qualify for the adoption of a child. In thirty states in the US, only one partner can adopt a child. This aspect raises the question of the role of the other partner in such a union if s/he cannot be a legitimate parent to the adopted child. Unfortunately, the majority of marriage laws rest upon the aforementioned complementary model of marriage, which insists in heterosexual relationships. However, this model is biased because it does not factor in the evolving nature of human relationships.
The alternative view to this issue would be the postmodern models of marriage, which appreciate the evolving nature of human relationships based on changing beliefs, morals, and cultures. The pertinent question here would be whether people are born gay or they become homosexual by creation. In either way, the law should be designed to protect the rights of all individuals without favor or discrimination. These two examples of evidence underscore some of the challenges that same-sex couples face in their attempt to add children to their union, which confirms this paper’s hypothesis.
The evidences given above support the aforementioned hypothesis. From both societal and legal perspectives, same-sex partners face numerous challenges when deciding to add children to their families. From a societal perspective, the society is skeptical on the ability of such couples to raise children given that such unions defy the conventional family functions like procreation. From a constitutional perspective, same-sex couples face numerous challenges as the existent laws are restrictive on the rights enjoyed by children and parents in a same-sex marriage set up.
Therefore, a sociological inquiry into this issue will provide practical implications by assisting the society and lawmakers to change their views concerning same-sex marriages because some of the perceptions are biased probably due to prejudice. A sociological research on the same would introduce alternative interpretations of the issue, which would change the current perceptions on same-sex family set ups.
Bernstein, M., & Taylor, V. (2013). The Marrying Kind?: Debating Same-Sex Marriage within the Lesbian and Gay Movement. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.
Bornstein, K., & Bergman, B. (2010). Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation. Berkeley, CA: Seal Press.
Kendell, D. (2012). Social Problems in a Diverse Society. New York, NY: Pearson.