“If you are heterosexual, you can enjoy the benefits and rights of a civil marriage.” That’s the disclaimer that opponents of gay marriage would like to see placed in the Constitution. I’m waiting for them to start running ads like, “Get married now (terms and conditions apply).”
Today Judge Vaughn Walker ruled that Prop 8 is unconstitutional. Great news and a positive step for marriage equality. But I’m not completely jumping for joy yet. The opposition will appeal the decision and the case will more than likely go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. I’m not going to report on this issue as a journalist. There are others more qualified for that job. But I do want to talk about this as someone who is directly impacted by this ruling.
As a feeling, thinking human being, it’s difficult for me to understand how the Prop 8 supporters think. Do they see all gay people as aliens? Monsters that are going to enslave and brainwash them? We have better things to do. All we want is what everyone else has. The right to marry the person we love. How is that a bad thing? Shouldn’t we been encouraging people, ALL people, to have loving, monogamous relationships?
And let’s not fool ourselves that heterosexuals set a great example for the institution of marriage. The reports vary, but the latest statistics show the US divorce rate hovering around 40% (http://www.aboutdivorce.org/us_divorce_rates.html). So, are the bigots afraid that gay marriage will actually set a better example than their heterosexual cohorts? I rarely hear an argument based in anything but religious objection from these people. “Marriage is between a man and woman because that’s what’s in the bible.” Yeah, and it also said you should stone your wife if she cheats on you.
Marriage is a CIVIL contract that can also be “validated” by a religious institution. The bigots need to get this through their thick skulls. If they want to continue to believe that from a RELIGIOUS perspective that marriage should be between a man and a woman, that’s their prerogative. But don’t stand there and tell me that I don’t have the CIVIL right to marry the person I love.
I’ve also heard the argument that the institution of marriage is about procreation. So, the only reason to get married is to have kids? If you don’t have kids, does that invalidate your marriage? What about single parents? Should they not have equal civil rights because they don’t have a heterosexual partner to share parenting duties? Are heterosexual couples the only ones “qualified” to be “good” parents? I’ve seen plenty of bad kids come from straight couples. I’ve seen and heard about child abuse at the hands of heterosexual couples. Don’t tell me that children of homosexual couples are more at risk for abuse and dysfunction. Abuse comes at the hands of dysfunctional and damaged people. It has nothing to do with a person’s gender or sexual orientation.
These are the arguments that have been and will continue to be made by those who oppose gay marriage. Their stance is one of fear and ignorance. But fear and ignorance has worked well for them. It is up to those of us who are more enlightened to lead the way. It is up to those of us who believe in equality for ALL to show the nation that marriage should be a right for all people. This battle is far from over. There will be appeals. The opponents of gay marriage will continue to spew hate and fear in the hopes of rallying more support. It may be years before a real, final decision has been made. I can only hope that when that final decision comes, it will be a decision that upholds the belief that we are all equal and deserving of the same rights.