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The central issue being discussed in the article is on same-sex marriage. A federal appeals court panel in Los Angeles threw out a voter –approved ban on same-sex marriage. The act was passed in 2008 by a vote of 52 percent against 48 percent. The Proposition 8 prohibited same-sex marriage in the State Constitution. The ruling upheld the lower court’s ruling ban, on the abuse of the California gay men and lesbian’s constitutional rights. The judges asserted the Proposition 8 violates Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause and the different action of domestic and married couples, although the judges failed to decide on the constitutional right for same-sex marriage.

A dissenting judge said the court was overreaching in nullifying a voter initiative. Backers of Proposition 8 will still oppose the ruling. The issue is to be taken to the Supreme Court for final settlement. Although, this can be difficult as it is applied to California only. This central issue has been fought in legal battles, and through political circle ranging from the presidential campaigns to state legislatures. The decision comes at a time when Washington state is about to legalize the same-sex marriage. It will become the seventh state to do so. The proponents of the Proposition 8 are disappointed but not surprised by the ruling given the nature of the Ninth Circuit.

Functionalism (Durkheim)

Functionalism is a sociological paradigm that attempts to explain a social institution as a collective mean of fulfilling individual’s biological needs. These needs are fulfilled by the social stability. It thus, addresses the society in terms of customs, norms, institutions, and traditions. Durkheim was concerned on society’s maintenance of their coherence and integrity in the modern era. He created a scientific approach to the social phenomena. His focus was on the social facts, rather than what motivates actions of individual people.

Durkheim believed that crime was functional and normal in any society. This is so, as it serves to reinforce social norms thus, functional. Moreover, crimes are normal as no society existed without any level of crime. Furthermore, he is an advocate of morality and believes that strong morals prevent a society from disintegrating (Joseph 78). The disintegration can happen, if collective conscience is weak. Therefore, to prevent the disintegration, punishment is essential. The punishment helps in making people remain moral, and acts as a way of binding individuals together and by promoting social cohesion. Religion, he says is an expression of social cohesion. It holds complex modern societies together. Thus, religion is like an emblem of a clan or social group. Therefore, religion is inevitable in a society. ,.


Functionalism is viewed in the world like a changing society. The changes in the social world are just like the changes in the physical world. The laws that are in place for the same-sex marriages are the same laws that are in the constitution prohibiting other forms of social injustices. For the society to function properly, unity is significant. Functionalism talks on the organic unity of the society, and needs to be met by individuals in a social system. The laws in place help to bring this unity. The balance has to be there for the society to maintain equilibrium. This can be achieved through socialization of the society members. The norms and values that they share, and are in place, keep this equilibrium. Thus, a consensus has to be reached, where individuals adhere to the laid down rules. The laws and the constitution bring the conformity that is needed for the social control. The case, shows how there are proponents and opponents of the Proposition 8, regarding the issue of same-sex marriages. Without the laws, socialization can be inefficient in a society. The sanctions placed by the law act as a control to the social norms in the society.


Functionalism has a limitation of reversing the order, and explaining things on what happens later. Religion in an example in existence and the contribution it has made to the society survival (Turner 165). The case also tries to reverse what was initially there in the society. New lifestyles by individuals allowing for same-sex marriage are allowed in the society. The society is composed of interrelated parts. The case on same-sex marriage shows how different members of the society regard the issue. A change in any of the parts, actually, affects the other part or a group. This creates a system where there is a homeostasis cycle. The balance has to be reached to suit the members of the society.

The theory of functionalism affects individuals; likewise, the case affects individuals who went to court to appeal against the Proposition 8 that affects their rights. The theory is on individual actors, and the case talks on individual judges, lawyers, politicians, and the victims of the case. All these people form part of the social structure that is in place. There are expectations and norms in the society that are supposed to be met. The case shows that the constitution does not prohibit individual rights. The law is supposed to deal with violators, just like functionalism, talks on sanctions for members of the society.


The sociological theories act as lenses on the society. They teach on the significance of rules in the social world, how controls and sanctions can be put to control social behaviors of individuals. The society is reduced to individual action and philosophy. The society has boundaries and limits of actions, thus sanctions in the form of laws are placed to control individual behaviors. Functionalism by Durkheim emphasizes on the social facts and collective responsibility.

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