With the Supreme Court hearing cases today and tomorrow regarding Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act, I felt the need to address my beliefs on marriage equality. I had planned to discuss it later this year on National Coming Out Day, but in light of these historically important cases and other recent events, this seemed like the right time.
I am an ally of the LGBT community, and I am unequivocally in favor of marriage equality.
This has always been a no-brainer for me. At my rural high school, I had a few gay and lesbian classmates, and it was never something that bothered me. I wish I could say the same for other classmates (not all), but homophobia is more the norm than the exception in the area where I grew up. After graduation, I moved on to a bigger pond, and found a greater variety of cultures and backgrounds, as well as a greater acceptance for those differences. In my senior year, I had the opportunity to attend a Safe Zone workshop hosted by YSUnity, my college’s LGBTQIA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, Intersex, and their Allies) group. Participants in this informational workshop, including faculty, staff members, university administration, and other student leaders, listened to the personal stories of speakers who are gay or loved someone who is, watched videos about support and crisis intervention services available to LGBTQ youth, and filled out questionnaires about our experience with and knowledge of issues facing the gay community. After completing the workshop, participants were given several resources to help them learn more about the issues, and a placard for their office space signifying that they had completed the workshop. This meant that their office was a “safe zone” for students who needed support.
Throughout my senior year, I was happy to display the placard on my door. While the personal stories were very moving, it was a question on one of the surveys that struck a chord with me. The survey was meant to make someone who is heterosexual think about questions that people who are not heterosexual may be asked. It read, “When did you know you were straight?” I always knew. It was never a decision. Seven-year old me thought the little boy with the bowl cut and big glasses was cute. I’ve always known that people don’t just choose to be gay, and to paraphrase one of the speakers, why would anybody choose something that would drive others to bully him on a daily basis?
Back to marriage equality. As I sit here typing this post, looking down at the beautiful ring given to me by the love of my life as his promise to me for our future, I can’t imagine outlawing this same love between others. No one voted to allow us to be married, and no one would picket their opposition of our wedding. (Except maybe a disgruntled ex… but whatever.) I am not in the least concerned that our marriage will somehow be threatened by allowing same-sex couples to have the same rights and and privileges we enjoy. In the United States, where nearly one in two marriages end in divorce, I refuse to believe that the sanctity of marriage is ruined by allowing same-sex couples to wed. Seventy-two day-long celebrity marriages and windbag, irrelevant pundits with four marriages under their belts are already chipping away at that. You can’t just write in “the gays” as the reason for your divorce.
Now, this where this post gets political and religious. One of my conservative friends made a great point recently in response to a status on Facebook, saying that true Conservatism favors limiting the role of government in our daily lives. Therefore, if marriage is a political issue, as it has become in the last few years, true Conservatives ought to support equality. Being a Liberal, its one of the few social issues we see eye to eye on. In addition to leaning left, I’m a Christian who believes that we’re simply called to love God and to love our neighbors as ourselves. I was raised in the church, and it wasn’t until I was a teenager, I started to see the problem of the God of War/God of Love dichotomy. I’m strictly a New Testament kinda gal and I believe in the new covenant; it doesn’t make sense to me that we need to be terrified of someone who is supposed to be our friend. (Besides, I bet you’ve broken like, six Old Testament laws before lunch. Bacon for breakfast? Polycotton blends?) That’s why I was so excited when I read about MIND (Methodists In New Directions), working to end homophobia in the United Methodist Church. They’re doing really cool work, and I hope something like this comes to Ohio.
For me, there is no discussion in this. My mind will not be changed, and I’m not out to change yours; I just hope that you’ll think about some of these points. American citizens are not fighting to be “gay married;” they want marriage equality, and all of the other things that come from a “married” status, like social security benefits and being able to visit spouses in the hospital. I’m not going to be “straight married.” Just married. Any other status is second class. We’ve long since learned that “separate but equal” is anything but, and I know couples who would not have been allowed to get married a mere 46 years ago. I know which side of history I will be on once this is decided, and I can’t wait to dance at the weddings of all of my friends.
Marriage equality is a human right. It is not a heterosexual privilege.