Monday, October 6, 2008
In Defense of Marriage*
The vice-presidential debates reminded me of one of the few unifying factors between the current republican and democratic campaigns: the refusal to acknowledge gay unions as marriage. Post-debate discussions with my fellow viewers revealed the strong and prevailing sentiment that while gay couples deserve the same civil rights given to straight couples, "marriage" should be reserved exclusively for straight couples. When pressed for reasons, I was offered reasons that included arguments that legalization would lead to the inadvertent sanction of polygamy, devaluation of marriage, and the destruction of "family values". The most confusing, and yet the one with the most support, was the argument that marriage has nothing to do with legislation or the courts, but everything to do with religion.
In that room, I sat with five impassioned and educated adults, who silenced my voice with misinformed beliefs and opinions on gay rights and gay marriage. So I am left with this forum to speak directly to you, you, and all of you who think and believe the way you do, and by so doing have acted the way you have done, and as a result have prevented tax-paying citizens from having the civil and legal rights that you get to enjoy.
To begin, I challenge those that say that marriage has everything to do with religion and nothing to do with the State. Marriage is a CIVIL INSTITUTION where our government accords legal and civil rights on the basis of that status. It is a civil institution wherein your moral and religious ideals should have no place. I ask you, why is it that marriages are not legally recognized in this country without a marriage license? Why is it that your marriage is not legal if not officiated by legally sanctioned officiant? (What? You thought your priest (or applicable religious leader) could willy nilly legally marry anyone they chose without being legally certified? In the eyes of God, yes. In the civil realm, no they cannot.) Examples abound but I shall stop from heading down this rabbit hole of proving a concept that should simply be a "duh."
Do you really think that by imposing your prejudices and phobias upon gay people- I meant to say: When you condescend to allow gay couples "civil unions" while reserving "marriage" for your precious straight couples, do you not really see the harm you're doing? Without the protection of "marriage", you are guaranteeing a sect of second-class tax-paying citizens who are subject to improper or inadequate health care and benefits, lack of rights in child custody scenarios, inheritance issues, social security and pension denials, immigration issues, etc. etc. Or how about the effect on employment, especially for those in the military? Or did you forget the brilliance that is Don't Ask, Don't Tell? Don't you dare tell me that things are coming along and gay people should be happy with the crumbs tossed to them. To date, only two states recognize gay marriage, while eight states and the District of Columbia recognize civil unions which offer varying degrees of the legal rights offered to heterosexual couples. The thing is, no one is asking you to open your churches, your mosques, temples, and prayer houses, to gay people. Nor are they asking you to find the gay lifestyle enticing. It is simply about equality, legal rights and civil rights. Something the United States Constitution guarantees and last I checked (and despite the many attempts of the current administration to whittle it down to a mockery immortalized on crumbling parchment paper), the Constitution of the United States is the ultimate, the absolute and the fundamentals of our laws.
Do not counter my arguments above by throwing your religious convictions or your bible scriptures in my face. My God is your God and OUR God is tolerant and loving. And please do not give me the family values argument or the argument that you romanticize the notion of marriage. In my experience, those who always cite their religious feelings are usually the ones with the most dirt. After all, wasn't it Senator Edwards who claimed his religious beliefs prevented him from supporting gay marriage all while mocking his marriage vows in one seedy motel room after the other. Or the many outed anti-gay legislation members of congress who are caught in compromising homosexual situations. (Larry Craig anyone?)
I am not shallow enough to believe that I can change your mind, but I am arrogant enough to try. Be human, be real. Civil unions are not the same as marriage, either in concept or legally. Fifty years ago we legally struck down the separate but equal doctrine and we began to move away from it. It was abhorrent then and while arguably in a different and more amorphous format, the doctrine should still be abhorrent today. Please listen- your prejudices and phobias have far-reaching negative effects that do not exist in a vacuum. And I swear to you, if you opened your eyes, you will see.
*The views expressed in this blog are solely those of Me. Oogie in no way contributed to the views and opinions expressed herein.