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Right to Marry

Right to Marry

I have come to the conclusion that this country isn’t nearly as accepting as it makes itself out to be. How else can you explain this backlash of mainly conservative Christians who are so vehemently opposed to gay marriage?

I’ve listened to the arguments both pro and con but the crux of the matter is this; gay people are denied the same rights and privileges that straight people receive for no other reason other than that they are gay. What rights and privileges are we speaking of? Tax credits, for one. The right to make medical decisions for their partner if they are unable to make them for themselves (in order to have that right now they have to establish a power of attorney, which is unnecessary if you are legally married). The right to inherit, for another.

Those are all important items to be sure, but for gay people it goes far beyond that; they seek to legitimize their unions, to have their love recognized and acclaimed. They want the church ceremonies, the reception and all the memories that go with them. They want, in other words, to fight for their right to party.

Denying them marriage is to remand the gay community to second class citizen status. It’s a way of saying to them “live somewhere else.” Since we can’t deport people for their sexual preferences – nor can we jail them for who they feel attracted to – we’ll do the next best thing. We’ll make them feel like they don’t belong. We’ll isolate them and alienate them. We’ll tell them they aren’t good enough and don’t deserve it. Sooner or later, they’ll start to believe it.

Doesn’t work that way though. All it does is feed the resolve of the rainbow nation and their supporters. Having lived in the San Francisco Bay Area as long as I did, you are pretty much forced to face your intolerances. You are sooner or later going to work side by side with gay people, or live next door to them, or hang out with them. You learn very quickly that they aren’t demonic, sexually obsessed sorts who prey on little boys, although I’m sure there are a few like that in every crowd (lots of straight people do that kind of thing too). You discover – wonder of wonders! – that they’re just like you and me. They have the same aspirations, the same dreams, the same ambitions. They want to find someone to settle down with, build a home and have a career that allows them to live comfortably. That’s all.

However, here in the Bible Belt as well as those places where either there aren’t many gays or there are far too many churches, there is a distinct fear of gay people – like they carry some kind of plague. Watch out for the gay man! If he touches you, you’ll turn gay…and…look…fabulous!!! AIIIIEEEEEEE!!!!

It’s all a crock, really. I think a lot of it is power tripping; people thinking they can exert their will to impact the lives of others negatively. It’s a very human trait, regardless of religious belief. However, as the judge in California rightly determined, even if seven million people vote in an election to limit the rights of others, that vote is immaterial. It violates the civil rights of others, it’s illegal. While the majority rules in a democracy, it cannot infringe on the rights of the minority. That’s a basic principle that the founding fathers had in mind when they established this country and while we haven’t always been successful in following that principal, we at least acknowledge that it’s there. You can’t violate the rights of a segment of the population just because people voted to say that it’s okay to.

Now the constitution doesn’t give you the right to marry specifically. It’s not a guaranteed freedom. However, the Pursuit of Happiness is part of the fabric of our society. Simply speaking, you cannot prevent a group of citizens from pursuing happiness because it violates your religious beliefs. Marriage can be considered a part of the pursuit of happiness; after all, what is life really worth without someone to share it with you?

One of the main arguments against allowing gays to marriage is that the union between two men or two women precludes procreation. If that’s the case, what of couples who can’t have children? Should they not be allowed to marry because of a biological issue? And there are plenty of couples who choose not to have children. Does that mean they’re not entitled to be married?

The answer in both cases is of course not. We allow straight people to marry no matter what their intentions are. If gay people choose to raise children, they have plenty of options – adoption, for one; artificial insemination for lesbian couples for another. To say that gays would be unfit parents is hypocritical to say the least. How many straight couples are fit parents? How many times do we see children taken away from their parents due to drug use, financial insolvency or abuse? You are as likely to have those elements in a straight household as you are in a gay household. Also, gay men and women statistically cheat less on their partners than their straight counterparts do.

Personally, I’m tired of the bullshit and hypocrisy. To those who authored California’s Proposition 8 and similar initiatives in different states, I say you are as un-American as it is possible to be. This country is supposed to be a shining light; that means being tolerant to those whose lifestyles we may not agree with. Certainly I get irritated by gay people referring to straights as “breeders;” I find that as repugnant as straight people referring to gay people as “queers.” And, to be sure, there are plenty of gay assholes in the world.

However I’m pretty sure the ration of asshole to cool is roughly the same in the gay community as it is in the overall population. The Republicans, who preach that government should stay out of people’s lives as much as possible, should follow their own advice. Who a person loves and chooses to marry is nobody’s business but their own. If they choose to legitimize their union by proclaiming it in front of God, their friends and their community, they have that right. My question is, if God didn’t love gay people, why did he put the same-sex love instinct in so many people in the first place?

It’s time we stopped just mouthing the words to the constitution and started living them. This country was meant to be a place of tolerance; after all, we were founded by people who had left the Old World due to religious and financial persecution, people who wanted to be free to make their own way in the world in a way that wasn’t possible in Europe. We are custodians of that dream, and we don’t have the right to deny it to American citizens just because a segment of the population wants to, even if they are the majority. The laws of the land are not a commentary on sexual morality; they are there to protect our rights and persons. Allowing gays to marry harms nobody; if anything, it will create a slight bump in the economy as those in the wedding industry – bakers, photographers, reception venues, tuxedo rentals, dressmakers and so on – will have more work to do as there are more weddings taking place.

I was taught that love is a good thing and that when we love someone, it pleases God. I wasn’t taught that there are any strictures on that or any conditions; that is a human invention. Nobody has the right to tell someone “you can’t love this person nor can you marry them.” That’s a dark ages kind of mindset. If there is a side to take in this argument, I stand on the side of love. That is always the right side to be on.


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