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Homosexual Marriage, Essay Example

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According to conflict theory, social structures on material, economic and ideological levels are constituted by a fundamental antagonism between groups, i.e., an inequality between groups. When using conflict theory to analyze the gay marriage issue, it appears that the debate over gay marriage is itself an example of such a social conflict, which perhaps lets us anticipate some of the potential developments in this debate.

For example, the question as to whether gay marriage will be legalized essentially would mean that the dominant patriarchal view of marriage would be dethroned: heterosexual marriages would now be joined by homosexual marriages. However, when considering that sexual conflict is part of social conflict, it would seem that this legalization is unlikely: homosexuality still represents a minority form of sexuality as opposed to the dominant heterosexual form. A legalization of gay marriage would mean that this dominant heterosexual form is essentially overturned: hence, the majority of Americans would accept this minority form of sexuality as essentially equal to the majority form. This would represent an alleviation of conflict in the realm of sexual norms, a development that seems unlikely from a conflict theory that maintains the persistence of social conflicts.

Nevertheless, the fact of this clash between normativities concerning sexuality does not mean that homosexual marriage should not be legalized. According to American law, with its emphases on civil liberties and individual rights there is no legal reason why gay marriage should not be legalized. Furthermore, while conflict theory attempts to identify social conflicts, this does not mean that conflict theory prevents their resolution: rather, identifying the precise terms of the conflict helps lead towards a leveling of the discerned inequality. Here, homosexuals are clearly being treated unequally according to the letter of the law: a legalization of gay marriage would make the law consistent.

In this regard, the gay marriage and larger gay rights movement is clearly in harmony with previous civil liberties movements, such as those of African-Americans. From the perspective of conflict theory, what is being addressed in these movements is a fundamental social inequality: homosexuals, as a minority, are being prevented rights held by the majority. Accordingly, conflict theory allows us to see an underlying harmony between all movements that aim to promote the rights of various minorities in the name of resolving inequalities. The gay rights movement is thus in consistency with this tradition.

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