Social research is a methodology that social researchers and scientists use to understand individuals and cultures so that they can develop products and services that can meet people's specific needs (Moon & Blackman, 2014). The scientific research includes several research strategies and techniques for quantitative and qualitative collection of data and data analysis. Social research is important in pressing the issues of society like inequality, drugs, social class, same-sex marriage, family issues, etc by addressing the problems and promoting social change (Sheehan, Dunn &Sahan, 2018).
Same-sex marriage is a social issue and a matter of concern in society for several decades. After carrying out social research, several countries have legalized same-sex marriage, taking into account the benefits gained after heterosexual couples transitioning from cohabitation to legal marriage and the effects of same-sex marriage for public health.In this essay, the importance of social researchhas been discussed and theresearch approachestaken to acquire the knowledge and use it for the betterment of society on issues like same-sex marriage.
Social research constitutes a significant information source. It tells the ways of understanding a social problem and discovering solution for the same. It cuts down the ignorance and gives a direction to a positive life in society. Social research includes experiments in the laboratory, field surveys, case research, ethnographic research, etc. The human mind seeks knowledge to enhance and stabilize the present-day and future living standard; which is achieved through social research which is considered as a journey of evolution and introspection. Social research also gives us the 'why' questions that include how deviancy, inequality, crime and prejudice, and so on, come into being and how results can be achieved so that it benefits society (Umberson et al., 2015).
One of the high-stakes conversations in the US and around the world concerns whether same-sex marriage (SSM) or relationships influence individuals, families, and even society's health and well-being. Social researches have been conducted studies and trying to link the homosexual and differentsex relationships through a variety of outcomes.The state and national judiciaries had also drawn on that information to make critical legal decisions and laws affecting same-sex marriage and their children. It is therefore crucial that the researchers establish a scientifically based strategy for advancing aninformed and coordinated research in this field (Wight, Leblanc, & Lee Badgett, 2013).
Marriage equality has been one of the key goals of the mainstream LGBT rights movement for the last two decades. But SSM litigation did not begin as a campaign organized by major organizations of LGBT social movement, but as a grassroots initiative by couples seeking marriage licenses.Social research helped the couples giving the positive outcomes if their marriage is legalised. Couples continued to file such suits in federal and state courts across the countries all over the world.In the 1970s and 1980s, the issue started to gain legal traction. In the following years, several other Supreme Courts of countries ruled in favour of the recognition of same-sex relations legally. In 2003, the Supreme Court of Massachusetts ruled that the State had to issue licenses to same-sex couples, making Massachusetts the first state to recognize SSM marriage. At the same time, the backlash against SSM continued throughout the world, with many countries passing statutes or increasingly banning SSM constitutional changes.
The topic of how children could be harmed by SSM has long dominated legal and political debates on the subject. The social research in SSM cases showed that the, anti-SSM parties have argued that on average gay and lesbian or equal-sex parenting leads to worse outcomes for children, with the implication that legal recognition of SSM should be denied to discourage parenting of the same sex. In contrast, the pro-SSM supporting people maintains that existing research does not support the claim to inferior child outcomes (Brewster et al., 2014). The views point to four key forms of social science research on family dynamics and optimum child growth in these debates: (a) studies that specifically investigate homosexual or gay/lesbian parenting; (b) studies that analyse gender-different parenting systems (i.e., children raised by male and female parents); (c) study on the influences of biological parent-child ties; and (d) studies of alternative family structures (Bos et al., 2016).
Defenders of SSM bans argued that legal acceptance of SSM will have socially harmful consequences on opposite-sex couples' marital and procreative behaviours. Such arguments were labeled as "responsible procreation" and marital deinstitutionalization. Specifically, responsible procreation arguments start from the premise that society has an interest in having children raised in families led by their married (opposite-sex) parents (Eggebeen, 2012).The social research conducted led to the argument that claims the SSM would weaken the connection between marriage and procreation, because same-sex couples are biologically incapable of procreation, and this delinking of marriage and procreation would result in fewer counter-sex couples getting married, staying married, and having children in marriage, i.e. engaging in "responsible procreation" (Kathleen, 2017).
The definition of deinstitutionalization of marriage, first introduced by sociologist Andrew Cherlin (2004), refers to the deterioration of marriage as a social framework, expressed in patterns such as decreasing marriage rates, increasing or high divorce rates and increasing cohabitation and non-marital childbearing rates. Opponents argue that the SSM would speed up deinstitutionalization as couples of opposite sexes would come to see marriage as a less desirable status. This made an implicationsthat there is need to make stronger rules about the children adopted by same-sex couple.
Academic expertsand social researchers have contributed to the SSM litigation on the issue of describing marriage as a social institution and its intent. On this question, the expertise came primarily from marriage historians, but some social scientists also addressed the issue.The arguments equating marriage to procreation were a building block of the responsible arguments for procreation addressed more directly by social science. The question of the nature of marriage, how it is defined, why it exists arose many questions for SSM. The anti-SSM stance was that marriage has always had the function of funneling procreation into a secure social system, connecting children with their parents. The moral inference is that the failure of same-sex partners to procreate makes the relationship inappropriate or inadequate for them, giving governments fairgrounds to restrict marriage to pairs of opposite sex (The Guardian, 2015). The pro-SSM also describes marriage and recognize that marriage's social roles have changed over time and that contemporary marriage serves many purposes, but not limited to reproduction and child-rearing.
Likewise, people used social science to discuss the harms caused by a lack of legal SSM, including harms to same-sex couple babies, gay and lesbian adults, and the economy. This is mainly a one-sided debate, with pro-SSM voices describing the harms from the anti-SSM side, and little reaction (Hull, 2017). In particular, pro-SSM expert witnesses referto the lack of acceptance levied on gay men and lesbians on issues such as the actual and emotional cost to children of having their parent’s relationships not accepted as families, as well as the health and economic pressures.Several experts favourably expressed these messages, noting recent studies on the benefits of marriage to children and adults and the probability that same-sex spouses and their children will benefit from these benefits (Fitzgibbons, 2015).
Trial testimony and amicus filings from social scientists asserted that pairs of the same sex were capable of stable long-term relationships and wanted marriage recognition for their commitments. If the rhetorical method was to decry the dangers of avoiding marriage or to applaud its possible benefits, certain judges seemed to find the message persuasive. Children raised by same-sex couples may be assisted because sometimes children of same sex couple obtain certain protections and benefits that result from same-sex marriage. There are chances that both children and adults would benefit from allowing same-sex couples to get married, and that the marriage ban harmed the economy of the country. Social research also concludes that the presence of SSM bans stigmatizes gay men and lesbians, seeking a psychological and physical cost.
A final issue receiving input from the social sciences was whether sexual orientation is entitled to increased scrutiny under the Equal Protection right. This question received extensive attention and was dealt with. Federal Equal Protection Jurisprudence has identified four criteria for assessing whether a legal classification affecting a particular social group deserves increased scrutiny, including whether the group
has historically experienced discrimination;
is politically impotent;
shares a common ground with others (Hull, 2017). Taking all these in accounts the researchers concluded that the SSM should be given the equal protection right.
Different socioeconomic groups that live in different parts of a country think differently. As social beings, we are constantly in need of understanding the actuality of our surroundings, environments, and individual and social needs.The same-sex marriage is experiencing a time of intense exploration, there is need of improvement of research in such issues which will certainly advance theempirical and theoretical expertise in the studies. Because of the diversity of same-sex couples and its political and legal relevancemakes it important to promote research that represents professional and ethical principles as well as the diversity of same-sex couples.In this essay, the contemporary challenges to same-sex relationship research have been identified and strategies have been suggested to addressthose challenges to reach the fullness of life which can be experienced by the individuals and their communities.
Bos, H. M., Knox, J. R., van Rijn-van Gelderen, L., & Gartrell, N. K. (2016). Same-sex and different-sex parent households and child health outcomes: Findings from the national survey of children's health. Journal of Developmental and BehavioralPediatrics JDBP, 37(3), 179–187. https://doi.org/10.1097/DBP.0000000000000288
Brewster, K. L., Tillman, K. H., & Jokinen-Gordon, H. (2014). Demographic characteristics of lesbian parents in the United States. Population Research and Policy Review. 33, 503–526.
Cherlin, A. J. (2004). The deinstitutionalization of American marriage. Journal of Marriage and Family. 66, 848–861.
Eggebeen D. J. (2012). What can we learn from studies of children raised by gay or lesbian parents? Social Science Research, 41(4), 775–778. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ssresearch.2012.04.008
Fitzgibbons R. P. (2015). Growing up with gay parents: What is the big deal? The Linacre quarterly, 82(4), 332–336. https://doi.org/10.1179/0024363915Z.000000000120
Hull, K. E (2017). The role of social science expertise in same-sex marriage litigation. Annual Review of Law and Social Science. 13:471–91
Sheehan, M., Dunn, M., &Sahan, K. (2018). In defence of governance: ethics review and social research. Journal of medical ethics, 44(10), 710–716. https://doi.org/10.1136/medethics-2017-104443 Stacey L. Shipley, Bruce A. Arrigo, Introduction to Forensic Psychology (Third Edition), 2012.
The Guardian. (2015). How same-sex marriage could ruin civilisation. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/science/brain-flapping/2015/jun/29/same-sex-marriage-ruin-civilisation-science
Umberson, D., Thomeer, M. B., Kroeger, R. A., Lodge, A. C., & Xu, M. (2015). Challenges and opportunities for research on same-sex relationships. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 77(1), 96–111. https://doi.org/10.1111/jomf.1215
Wight, R. G., Leblanc, A. J., & Lee Badgett, M. V. (2013). Same-sex legal marriage and psychological well-being: findings from the California Health Interview Survey. American journal of public health, 103(2), 339–346. https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2012.301113Moon, K., & Blackman, D. (2014). A guide to understanding social science research for natural scientists. Conservation biology : the journal of the Society for Conservation Biology, 28(5), 1167–1177. https://doi.org/10.1111/cobi.12326
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