The changing attitude toward same sex marriage

The topic of same sex marriage has many areas to explore for research paper topics, from marriage benefits for same sex couples, to religion and same sex marriage, to how society’s changing its attitude on the topic of same sex marriage for gay and lesbian couples.

The attitude change towards same sex marriage has made it more accepted in society. (Credit:

The attitude change towards same sex marriage has made it more accepted in society. (Credit:

These are just a few of the good research paper topics to explore for a range of classes—sociology, religion, LGBT studies and more.

Changing attitude

Twenty years ago, even 10 years ago, same sex marriage was far from an accepted idea. In 2004, Massachusetts became the first state to extend marriage benefits to gay and lesbian couples. Meanwhile, 11 other states at the time passed bans on the practice. Today, 19 states and the District of Columbia give same sex couples the legal option to marry, and bans in 11 states have been struck down by federal courts. So what caused the seismic shift in our culture?

Five Reasons Gay Marriage is Winning” by Kevin Eckstrom June 6, 2014, for the National Catholic Reporter, cites several reasons:

1.  Rapid cultural shifts—Gay characters on TV shows such as “Will & Grace” and “Glee” made LGBT individuals more visible and accepted in society.

2.  An ally in the White House—Not only did President Obama drop the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, but the Justice Department under his leadership also found the Defense of Marriage Act’s ban on same sex marriage to be unconstitutional.

3.  A problem of overreach—Conservative activists pushed for a nationwide ban, and “That, in turn, only strengthened the resolve of gay rights groups,” wrote Eckstrom.

4.  Religion influences rises–and falls—With 77 percent of Americans saying religion is losing its influence, many also seem to feel there is a difference between, as Eckstrom wrote, “marriage rights–and all the legal and financial benefits that go with them–and matrimonial rites.”

5.  ‘Hateful and bigoted’—The lack of compassion that many proponents of traditional marriage showed gay and lesbian couples also led to the change in many American’s minds. 

Extending benefits to same sex couples

As a result of the changing attitudes toward same sex marriage, there are also many legal and financial changes that are currently in the works. These marriage benefits for the LGBT community include regulatory changes from the Department of Labor and The Social Security Administration and the Veterans Affairs Department that are explained in “Obama Extends Marriage Benefits to Gay Couples” by Michael D. Shear for The New York Times June 20, 2014.

Despite this good news, Shear wrote, “officials said that a small number of provisions in federal law explicitly prohibit the government from providing benefits to same-sex couples. Those laws apply to the Social Security agency and the Veterans Affairs Department.” Congress must pass legislation if there is to be further change.

Religion and same sex marriage

The federal government is not the only institution that has recently changed its ways in regards to same sex marriage. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) recently announced it would change its stance on allowing its ministers to marry same sex couples in the states where it is legal.

Presbyterians vote to allow same-sex marriage” posted by Daniel Burke on’s Belief blog June 20, 2014, explains more about what this means. The church’s individual presbyteries still have to vote to approve the change before it can take affect. They have the next year to do this. Burke wrote, “The church also voted, by an overwhelming majority, to change the language about marriage in the church constitution to ‘two persons’ from a ‘man and a woman.’”

For more information on same sex marriage, visit Questia’s gay rights and gay and lesbian studies libraries.

What do you think would make good research paper topics for a term paper on same sex marriage?

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