Wednesday, October 22, 2008

We're Here and We're Queer--Give Us Our Rights

I think there are two kinds of people in this world: (1) people who appreciate whenever someone loves another human being and doesn't care whether the sex of the first human being is the same or different from the sex of the second human being; and (2) people who are too afraid to confront their own preconceived notions of sexuality and so call the first type ignorant and sinners. I will hold this belief until the day I die. Sure there are gray areas (just ask DadGrace about gay marriage as opposed to gay civil unions), but at the basic atomic level, that's where we all must start from and the rest falls into line.

Long ago I decided I was one of the former types of people.

In 2004, gay marriage was the rage everywhere across the country. And I really mean "rage". People were tearing up the polls right and left to organize normal people into creating laws against gay marriage. It happened here in Michigan and the effects of the ruling have been devastating to some families. This year, in an attempt to reverse the State's Supreme Court ruling allowing same-sex marriages, California is preparing to vote on Proposal 8--which would basically outlaw same-sex unions, in much the same way Michigan's Proposal 2 in 2004 did here.

So why is marriage, of all things, a necessary fight for the LGBT community and its allies? A great many people don't see what the right to marry has to do with basic human rights. In fact, the conservatives have taken a hold of this idea and deemed the right a "special right." Facts are facts, and gay marriage is a good thing for society. You might ask why....and I'll be glad to tell you.

1. The right to marry is a fundamental constitutional right.

I was not alive when it was illegal for a person of one race to marry a person of another race. But the effects of that have shattered lives for decades, if not centuries. Back in 1967, the Supreme Court decided that it was against the protections in the constitution to criminalize interracial marriage in Loving v. Virginia. The legal precedent behind that case supports the case for gay marriage rights today. In the Court's decision, Chief Justice Warren wrote:

Marriage is one of the "basic civil rights of man," fundamental to our very existence and survival. Skinner v. Oklahoma, 316 U. S. 535, 316 U. S. 541 (1942). See also Maynard v. Hill, 125 U. S. 190 (1888). To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State's citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discriminations. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual, and cannot be infringed by the State.
Thus, the Court recognized, as many Americans do, that the right to marry is a fundamental American right. So if the right to marry is a fundamental constitutional right, doesn't it follow that the right to marry whom you chose is also a fundamental right? I have yet to hear a sound legal argument against the application of Loving to gay marriage.

2. Gay marriage is an economic stability issue.
You want a stable economic environment? Allow gay marriage. Consider this: a state which allows gay marriage is likely to get an influx of population. Population, in almost every instance, leads to higher taxes. Heck, even the weddings themselves are a billion dollar industry. Companies who provide same-sex benefits can draw from a larger group of talent to ensure the best pick. Further, a family--gay, straight or other--is a community which provides privitized services that would otherwise be provided by the state either directly or indirectly.

This isn't something I have made up. You can check the facts here or here or here.
3. Gay marriage is a family issue and a moral issue.

Yes, you read that right. Gay marriage is a family issue. If you are against gay marriage, you are against family. Plain and simple. A marriage of two people creates a family unit, in which love and support are fostered. The opposition to the marriage of two people--whether they are of the same sex or not--is against the creation of a family unit. Therefore, on basic language alone, such a position is untenable.

It always makes me laugh in a very sarcastic way when someone tries to play the morality card when it comes to gay rights. The fact is that while gay rights and gay marriage, in particular, are moral issues, the opposition to both provides the least moral outcome imaginable. When I was taught about the Bible and being Christian, I was taught that the first thing we ought to do to be good Christians is to love thy neighbor. Now, I hate to parse words here, but I don't remember Jesus saying anything about loving thy neighbor only if you are a he and she is a she or vice versa. And furthermore, isn't hating gay people (you know like Fred Phelps perpetuates) completely against the entire New Testement? Because hate produces hate crimes, isn't it, in fact, against the Ten Commandments?

I guess some people forgot to check their beliefs with their purported religious texts. Don't trust me still? Check out this brilliant list of reasons why Christians, in particular, should support same-sex marriage.

4. Gay marriage is none of your business.

When all else fails, if you haven't gotten with me on the first three points, you should be able to latch on to this: even if you can't see the benefits of a society that allows gay marriage, it doesn't hurt you in any way, shape, or form--so why are you so concerned?

I never have gotten the concept that the legality of a man and a woman being able to marry is somehow challenged when a man and a man are able to marry. In fact, I would consider my marriage more upstanding and right if I knew that my gay counterparts could enter into such an important legal union. And that's what it is, you know, a legal union. If you don't want your religious beliefs to recognize gay marriage, take it up with your church, not our governement.

So here's to hoping that Proposal 8 in California fails. I know that Michigan's 2004 Proposal 2 was a nightmere for those of us allies out there and a sheer terror for those in the LGBT community.

I pray, that one day, my future children and your future children will grow up in a world where love is free and marriage is equal.



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