Saturday, December 13, 2008

Marriage Equality: A Basic Human Right

Here's a little essay I wrote just before the election.

Marriage Equality: A Basic Human Right
By: John W. Brown

While the recent action of the Connecticut Supreme Court is reason to celebrate, it saddens me to witness the continued marginalization and oppression of members of the LGBT (or GLBT, whichever you prefer) community. Being fully aware that marriage has always been conceptualized as a union between ONE man and ONE woman, I understand the resistance we are experiencing. Certainly, very few people ever conceived of the day when same-sex couples would assert their right to marry. However, the rhetoric and actions of certain segments of the population renders maintaining compassion, empathy, and objectivity nearly impossible. I press on anyhow.

As I listen to conservatives and liberals rationalize their discriminatory beliefs, a few common denominators emerge: the belief that God ordained marriage specifically for men and women, the fear that school children will be forced to view homosexuality favorably, the complete fallacy that religious institutions will be mandated to perform same-sex marriages, the notion that employees who refuse to serve LGBT citizens will face termination, and (drum roll) the opinion that the country’s moral fiber will be completely obliterated. Wow!

From my observations, most of the people who support discriminatory measures –such as Proposition 8- are not evil or bigoted; they simply have strong convictions that compel them to protect something they view as sacred and holy. Fair enough. However, they tend to not understand that denying an individual the right to make informed, personal decisions negatively impacts her/his ability to live freely. Recently, close family members told me that if I really wanted to marry a man, I would move to Massachusetts, California, or Connecticut and stay there. Even when I mentioned that those marriages become null and void once state borders are crossed, they still suggested that I might be asking for too much too soon. Be patient, John, they said. What will you do if the country NEVER allows you to get married? It’s just a piece of paper. The love you feel for your partner is what really counts. Just get a will and be happy. Live your life.

The problem is that I cannot accept inequality, whether it is endorsed by religious institutions or not. Contrary to belief, in my humble opinion, the creation of Eve from Adam was not a marriage. If it was, then what heterosexuals and LGBT people in the above-mentioned states have is not. Secondly, nowhere in the sacred text does God mandate individuals to marry. It is a choice. There are scriptures that indicate the dynamics that should exist between husbands and wives (i.e. Genesis 2:24, Proverbs 18:22, 1 Corinthians 7:33, and Ephesians 5:33), which I respect. However, if God does not mandate marriage, who does? The State. Consequently, if the federal government concatenates marriage with rights and privileges, it is obligated to permit all citizens full access to said institution. I don’t care if the only right marriage provided was a free breakfast at IHOP on Sunday mornings between 7-10 A.M. I should be able to have some of those pancakes and waffles (free of charge), too.

But it’s not that cut and dry. People are genuinely fearful of the potential effects of legalizing same-sex marriage. For some people, it goes against everything they have been taught. While I certainly empathize, change is always a difficult process. People who had been taught that God sanctions slavery (Ephesians 6:5) certainly struggled with emancipation. People who were taught that blacks and whites should be separated at all times certainly struggled to accept integration and interracial marriage. People who were taught that homosexuality is vile, disgusting, and just plain nasty certainly struggled when sodomy was decriminalized in 2003. Struggling is a part of the human condition. However, one of the byproducts is progress. So, I welcome the challenge and encourage all of my compatriots to acknowledge that discrimination on the basis of any attribute is unconstitutional, immoral, and inconsistent with the democratic principles we all hold dear.

In closing, I sincerely hope that we all can remain cordial and respectful as we struggle to provide LGBT people with full citizenship and equal protection under the law. I do not hate anyone who has an opinion that differs from mine. Conversely, I love you. Given that the rationale for continued marriage discrimination is often spiritual or religious, I will end by quoting one of my favorite scriptures: 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

Be blessed.


Anonymous said...

Hmmm... I wonder how Connecticut is as far as a place to live and how the gay scene is there? I wholeheartedly agree on the initiative to legalize gay marriage not just because I am gay, but I believe it is our right to choose whom we marry and the government should not dictate whom we are allowed to fall in love with. It's just difficult to stand on this now, because my question is... "What gay man is going to marry me or marry period?" (sigh...) Like I said, perhaps I am just the ONLY one that doesn't have a real chance.

Losojosnuevos said...

Not at all, dahlin. The question is timing. There's our time and God's time, and I've found that the two rarely coincide. Keep your head up, little brother.

That Dude Right There said...

Amen! Amen! Amen!