As I write this I can’t help but to feel a little tentative. Hot button issues are just that – hot. However, since this is an opinion piece, that’s what I’m going to give. My opinion. I don’t want to make this article wholly based on religious views on the issue. To me, it’s a social and human rights issue. Is marriage, the union of two people, an issue that should be decided in the federal courts or in the court of public opinion? Who’s to say that the partnership between a same-sex couple is less than that of a heterosexual one?
I was raised in the church and I certainly understand how those teachings can impact the way we live our lives. But in the US Constitution the writers were deliberate in not imposing any one person’s religious views. Out of respect and for the inclusion of all religious beliefs it is not intertwined in our government. Yes, there are presences of it. God is referenced in our pledge, our national anthem (in the fourth verse), on our money, etc. It’s not hard to see that Christian beliefs have a presence in the very areas the founders wanted them kept out of. At the crux of this issue is a conservative religious belief versus human rights.
High school was the first time I remember meeting and befriending someone who was gay. Even then, in the mid to late nineties, it wasn’t something one discussed. I remember how my BFF was ridiculed and taunted. I really couldn’t understand why who he was made him any less of a ‘regular’ person than me. I was more curious about what it was like being gay. Being a heterosexual, it was only natural. I was taught to believe one thing, but like many things in life, you don’t really know until you know. At the time it never really crossed my mind that it was a big deal not being legally accepted. Naively I didn’t think that gay individuals wanted to get married. Obviously now I know that there is really a great deal more to it.
The idea of marriage has long been viewed through religious doctrines. As such, because I married a man I am legally allowed the many rights, privileges and headaches of that union. But traditional views and beliefs, while often accepted or grandfathered, shouldn’t be something that we hold so dear that we not reexamine them? How is it that we somehow can not see the injustices of the issue. How soon we have forgotten the plight of the oppressed races seeking equality? That being said why should a same-sex couple be denied the same rights as a person of the opposite persuasion?
To define marriage as being between a man and a woman is to view it religiously, to define the legal union of a same-sex couple is to see it as humane. I may not be a participant of the LGBT community but I’m objective enough to understand that by law “marriage” is a contract. If justice is really blind it should not dictate or exclude an individual based on their sexual preference. Society as a whole needs to see that this is discrimination and that it does in fact harm and denigrate. It harms the families and children of same-sex partners. There should be no stigma in accepting people for who they are. Regardless of your beliefs on what makes an individual gay, the fact is that at the end of the day we’re more the same than we are different.
Don’t try to contain a lifestyle as if it was an infectious disease. Just as drinking from separate fountains doesn’t make any sense, so too is the notion that “being gay” will somehow usher in the end of morality. Why should anyone be allowed to dictate what constitutes a “proper” relationship? I’m not comfortable with the idea that unless their union consists of one man and one woman, “the land of the free and the home of the brave” won’t accept you.
We are the land of the persecuted and yet we’ve somehow managed to also be the land of the persecuted.
This article appeared on page 5A in the 3/27/13 issue of The Union-Recorder. Appeared in the paper as Gay Marriage Debate: People are People.