Gay Marriage Scapegoat

Essay by reemstrinUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, March 2004

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Gay Marriage Scapegoat

Is legalizing gay unions going to corrupt the sanctity of marriage as we know it? Surprisingly enough, many right wing conservatives feel that this is true. In 2001 the Census Bureau reported that during the 1990s the number of unmarried-partner households in the United States increased by 72 percent. This statistic deserved wider notice than it received. But now, with nearly five million cohabiting couples in the U.S., this shift in the traditional family is becoming more apparent. Cohabitation has been increasing for the past few decades, but such large numbers did not always exist. Marriage, meanwhile, is headed in the other direction. For example, the number of marriages for women between the ages of twenty and twenty-five has declined nearly thirty percent since 1970. A lot of factors are at work here - for example, people are marrying later - but it seems clear that one of them is the rise in cohabitation, or living together in a more or less sexual relationship without being married.

Despite the fact that the preceding numbers also include same-sex partners, conservatives have managed to separate the homosexual and heterosexual cohabitants. Most heterosexual couples these days seem to be perfectly content with living together without officially tying the knot.

Whether cohabitation is a bad thing is an aggressive question, but it is almost certainly not a good thing. Cohabitation tends to be both less stable and less happy than marriage, and this appears to be true even considering the philosophy that there might be two different kinds of people: the cohabiting type and the marrying type. In a situation where cohabitation is the defining label, research shows that the strong feeling of commitment is of lesser importance because there is not a binding label for the couple. "Research suggests that...