SOC FPX 2000 Capella Same Sex Marriage in Massachusetts and The New York States Essay

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SOC FPX 2000

Capella University



Write an essay comparing two U.S. states' approaches to issues of same-sex marriage or immigration policy.

Note: You must complete Assessment 4 before beginning this assessment.

How can sociological research help us understand how laws and policies are made and how they change over time? How might we use the sociological perspective to develop more effective solutions to political and social issues or create policies that are effective and based on sound research? These are questions to consider as you explore the connection between political and economic power and legislative decision making.

In this final assessment, you study how our culture's beliefs about diversity are reflected in the law-making and policy-making process, including laws and policies that pertain to immigration and same-sex marriage. As you compare and contrast how two specific states have approached immigration or same-sex marriage, reflect on which sociological theories (such as power elite theory, state autonomy theory, or pluralism) best apply to the policy decisions that have been made in your states. Something to think about, too, is whether the policies and positions maintained by those in power actually reflect the research and data on the topic or issue they address. The research you do for this final assessment should show you how power and politics, as well as population demographics, influence policy making.

Demonstration of Proficiency

By successfully completing this assessment, you will demonstrate your proficiency in the course competencies through the following assessment scoring guide criteria:

Competency 1: Describe theoretical ideas of power in relation to policy.

Discuss contrasts in how states approach a diversity issue, using theoretical ideas of power.

Competency 2: Identify historical and contemporary influences of discrimination in U.S. culture.

  • Discuss law, policy, or politics in states with varying approaches to a diversity issue.

Competency 3: Analyze the effects of social policy using aggregated data.

  • Analyze data to project how state policies might affect population migration.
  • Competency 4: Analyze how laws are applied or created based on race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, and social class.

Discuss contrasts between two states in areas of law, politics, or policy as they apply to a diversity issue.

  • Competency 5: Apply diversity strategies in professional, educational, and personal contexts.
  • Apply historical solutions to an issue where there are discrepancies between state and federal diversity law.

Competency 6: Communicate effectively.

  • Write coherently to support a central idea in appropriate format and with few errors of grammar, usage, and mechanics.
  • Instructions

Building on your research and analysis of the immigration policy or same-sex marriage debates, this assessment asks you to more closely examine the connection between power, policy, and law making by comparing and contrasting how two states have handled these issues.

  • In order to understand the link between power and political and legal decision making, you will place this process in each state in the appropriate context. That means that you need to assess the historical, demographic, cultural, and socioeconomic factors that have influenced each state's different approach to immigration policy or same-sex marriage. You will also reflect on the consequences of state-to-state discrepancies in policies and laws regarding controversial social and political issues like these.
  • This assessment combines the key components of studying cultural diversity from a sociological perspective—placing current social issues in historical context, understanding how demographic and cultural trends influence public opinion, and applying sociological theories to determine the role of power in shaping policy-making decisions.

Write an essay addressing each of the following three parts:

  • Part 1 – Complete the following:
  • Discuss one of the following for each of the two states you have chosen as it relates to your chosen topic:

Law (rules and standards enforced by a particular institution).

  • Politics (the key political players in the policy-making and law-making processes).

Policy (principles or methods used to achieve a particular goal or make decisions about political or social issues).

Discuss theories of power that might explain the differences between how each state has handled your issue.

Examples of theories of power include power elite theory, the four networks theory of power, pluralism, Marxist theory, and state autonomy theory.

Discuss other possible explanations for the differences in how each state's government has approached your topic. Address at least three of the following potential factors, and come up with another of your own that might explain the divergent approaches you have identified:

Demographics of the state population, including age, race/ethnicity, gender, and percentage of the population in urban versus rural areas.


  • Religion.


  • Socioeconomic standing, including median or average income and education levels of the population, as well as the overall economic well-being of each state.

Part 2 – Answer the following, incorporating data to support your answers:

  • To what extent have these states' existing policies and laws affected past or recent migration patterns of the groups affected (immigrants or those seeking same-sex marriage rights)?
  • How might future migration patterns be affected?
  • Part 3 – Complete the following:
  • Reflect on a historical precedent in which a state has had to alter its laws as a result of inconsistencies with federal law.

Why and how did the state change its laws?

  • What lessons might be learned from this precedent, and how can those lessons be applied to your topic?
  • Additional Requirements

Written communication: Written communication is free of errors that detract from the overall message.

  • Length: 6–8 pages, not including the title and reference pages.
  • Format: Include a title page and reference page, and format the essay and your citations according to current APA style and formatting guidelines.
  • Sources: Cite at least four credible, scholarly sources to support your points.
  • Font and font size: Times New Roman, 12-point.Resources: Theoretical Sources
  • This assessment requires application of a specific sociological theory to your analysis of same-sex marriage or immigration policy. Below are resources that discuss appropriate theories.
  • Domhoff, W. (2015). Theories of power. Retrieved from

This resource discusses several sociological theories of power, including the four network theory, pluralism, and state autonomy theory.

Alvarez, P. (2017, February 19). A brief history of America’s ‘love-hate relationship’ with immigration. Atlantic. Retrieved from

  • This article traces the history of social and policy responses to immigration.

Healey, J. F., Stepnick, A., & O’Brien, E. (2019). Race, ethnicity, gender, and class: The sociology of group conflict and change (8th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Available in the courseroom via the VitalSource Bookshelf link.

This article reviews state marriage policies in the context of the federal legalization of same-sex marriage.

National Conference of State Legislatures. (2015.) Same-sex marriage laws. Retrieved from

  • This resource provides an overview of same-sex marriage laws prior to the 2015 Supreme Court ruling that legalized gay marriage nationwide.
  • Orrenius, P. M., & Zavodny, M. (2017). Creating cohesive, coherent immigration policy. Journal on Migration and Human Security, 5(1), 180–193. 
  • This article reviews problems and limitations with U.S. immigration policy and ways to develop a more cohesive, effective policy.

Explanation & Answer:
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Same-sex Marriage in Massachusetts and the New York States


Same-sex marriage is also referred to as gay marriage. It means a marriage partnership
between individuals of the same sex. Same-sex marriage has evolved for a considerable duration
through multiple legislative processes and Supreme Court rulings, demanding that states
authorize same-sex marriage within their jurisdictions. It has witnessed accelerated advancement
in the past decade through policy reviews and a presidential memorandum signed by President
Barack Obama in 2011, authorizing same-sex marriage. The US Supreme Court also made a
landmark ruling in 2015, demanding all the states to embrace gay marriage. Therefore, this essay
focuses on same-sex marriage in Massachusetts and New York states.
Same-sex marriage in Massachusetts
The first state in the United States to authorize same-sex marriage was Massachusetts in
the last quarter of 2003. This decision was propelled through the Massachusetts superior court’s
decision in the case Goodridge v. the department of public health. Before, the court required
clarification to ascertain if denying same-sex couples infringed individual’s freedom and equality
as anchored in the constitution (Legal Momentum, 2003). Couples from the state applied for
marriage certificates from the public health department; however, the department dismissed their
application since the state did not authorize same-sex marriage. However, the plaintiffs appealed
to the department's decision at the Supreme Court to clarify the issue. The court ruled that samesex partners' rights and protections cannot be denied since such union is similar to civil
marriages. Thus, the ruling provided the legal ground in Massachusetts for same-sex partners to
be legally recognized and respected.

The Supreme Court’s decisions caused uproar in the country since it was the first state to
legalize same-sex marriage countrywide. President George Bush was troubled by the ruling
anchoring his argument on the societal belief attached to marriage as an institution between a
man and a woman (Arce, 2004). He said that if the judges decided to review marriage through
court orders, the only alternative for the people is a constitutional amendment to defend marriage
sanctity. The 2003 Superior court decision caused a political debate in the country and beyond
since it set the pace for same-sex marriage. Initially, most senators opposed the practice;
however, later on, they engaged in productive discussions on the significance of same-sex
marriage. Thus, through t...

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