Same-Sex Marriages: The Functionalist Perspective

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Same-Sex Marriages: The Functionalist Perspective

The recent resurgence and clamor for same-sex marriages is a social phenomenon that is indicative of the gradual decay U.S. values and norms are going through. It is a predicament that has over time mutated from a behavior of minority or marginalized groups to what is now a universal national issue. Initially, and fittingly so, homosexuality was perceived to be a behavior of isolated groups of people who engaged in it as a way of last resort; or simply as a show of deviance. Therefore, to every neutral observer who is witnessing the influx of homosexuals and their unrestricted marriages, everything is astonishing and perplexing. Nonetheless, there are many valid sociological explanations to this development, one of them being the social functionalism perspective. In this paper, the author intends to use Emile Durkheim’s functionalist theory to substantiate some of the sociological factors responsible for same-sex marriages.

The main principle of functionalism is that a society is composed of many parts that work harmoniously to achieve a balance. All these parts are interconnected and the action made by one part affects the actions made by the others. Institutions such as families, schools, the legislature, judiciary, civil society, and major corporations exercise immense influence on the general behavior of people. For instance, the family is the primary agent of socialization where a child is nurtured to learn social norms and values. On the other hand, schooling is responsible for training people new skills that can be used to build the society. Even though the acts of each social part are intended to achieve a particular effect, in most scenarios there are side effects that are practically unintended. According to the functional theory, the intended effects are referred to as manifest, while the unintended effects are referred to as latent. Interestingly, the manifest and latent effects of various actions have over time formed a major source of sociological behavior, one of them being homosexuality.

Prisons were among the earliest sources of latent effects that led to development of homosexuality. Since time immemorial, prisons have been regarded as correctional facilities meant to punish or straighten people with deviant behavior. However, over time they have bred a new class of abnormal behaviors, including homosexuality. After being isolated from normal life, some people devise means to compensate for the sociological losses they incur. Particularly, some of those who miss normal sex life with members of the opposite sex see practicing it with members of the same-sex as the best alternative. Eventually, when these inmates get released to the society they transmit their abnormal behavior to their close family members or friends.

The civil society is the leading source of manifest effects that promote homosexuality and same-sex marriages. Especially, it is as a result of the direct effects the civil society has on the ethical values of families. Moreover, civil society organizations have immense influence on the political-legislative processes of various states, as well as the behavior of professional organizations. Currently, there are very many organizations both in the U.S and overseas that are still advocating for the official recognition gay marriages. The general increase in this type of marriages shows that the push by these organizations is bearing positive results. For example, in 2015 the U.S Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriages in all states. Apparently, this ruling was made after a protracted lobbying exercise waged by various civil bodies.



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