Saturday, February 12, 2005

Gay marraige and equal rights

This is something I've considered for a long time. It hasn't come easy, but for months now I have believed this is the right course of action, and I hope to explain it in a manner that makes sense to everyone. As a centrist, I've been asked, "Aren't civil unions enough?" I once thought that way too, but there is a difference, and that too shall be explained.

Gays are the new (fill in the blank) persecuted minority. 11 states passed an amendment to ban gay marraige. The President is again pushing for the Family Marraige Amendment to federalize a ban on gay marraige through the Constitution, making the "living document" not-so-powerful. These moves are wrong; they reek of prejudice, and they risk the idea of federalism and the First Amendment.

Homosexuals are the way they are because of nature. It has been proven quite reasonably and scientifically. Many feel guilt, shame and shunned for the way they feel because society teaches us that we should all be heterosexual. It's not a choice for them, just as heterosexuals don't have a choice in their instinctual behavior.

I am a Catholic, I observe religious holidays, I pray to God regularly. Despite my teachings and indoctrination, I refuse to believe that A: evolution never happened, and B: that homosexuals are sinners. Yes, I know full well the passages cited as God's will that homosexuality is a sin. I also know that we all learn that Jesus Christ died for our sins, and that he is loving and forgiving. The Old Testament is stern, harsh God. The New Testament is loving, caring God. I believe God kickstarted the universe, then sat back and has watched it grow, and yes, EVOLVE.

The point that I am coming to is that I believe homosexuality, which has existed for a very long time, is a genetic shaping, not a choice, not a sin. And so this brings us to the marriage issue.

Homosexuals are human beings. They aren't animals. All that crap that Rick Santorum spewed about man with man leading to man with dog is ridiculous. We are talking about human beings, loving, wanting to get married.

Marriage began as a religious function, and was that way for many years. I could be wrong, but I believe the U.S. Constitution was the first document making marraige a civil function, decided by the states. All 50 states allow you to get married by a justice of the peace. You don't have to be married in a church. You don't need a preacher to do it. All you need is a civil official and the marraige fee.

So why do we push a religiously based view into this debate while not allowing homosexuals to marry? Some, like I did before, argue for civil unions. Others say give them nothing (the Dobson-Robertson-Falwell-Santorum faction). Let's make a couple of things clear here.

First of all, civil unions are gay marraige without the word. That word means everything, and it means a lot to homosexuals as well as heterosexuals. It means legitimacy in the eyes of the law. It has a sacred meaning. Marraige bestowes rights upon people. It matters.

Colbert King wrote a great column about how interracial marraige used to be considered a great taboo, not wanted by God, and yet today it is seen as normal. Religion is often used as a reason to prevent something from changing. Religion was once a driving force for change, now it is used to always prevent change. Moreover, America, like it or not, does not rule by religious fiat. Most of us are religious; I am in that category. But we are a nation that welcomes everyone and everyone's contributions, whether they worship God, Buddha, Zeus, whoever. Why, then, should we allow religion to define what is right?

Several nations have allowed homosexual marraige within the past year, or are working on it right now. This includes our neighbors to the north in Canada, who despite two consecutive Catholic Prime Ministers, passed legislation to legalize it. Those two PM's, Jean Chretien and Paul Martin, supported the legislation.

Chretien, who took major criticism from Canadian bishops over the law, said that his first duty was to serve the entire public. This is quite similar to our own situation here. The fact is, marraiges already have a 50% chance of ending in divorce. Isn't expanding the pool of people who can marry an important lifeline to a failing institution? Aren't people who are in love and want to get married the type of thing we should be encouraging?

"Majority rules, minority rights." That's the famous line. And this is a case of rights, not of law expressed by popular opinion. Interracial marraige wasn't popular, but it was a case of rights, and blacks and whites should have the right to marry. Homosexuals, too, should have that right. Is it popular? Not really. But what is popular isn't always right, and what is right isn't always popular. It's the right thing to do, period. It shows that we are a people who are committed to ending prejudice in the world, and it gives a class of people the same rights that everyone else has, which is all anyone can and should ask for. Let's continue aspiring to what we started in 1776, the idea of freedom, liberty, and civil rights for ALL.


Blogger Diane101 said...

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Blogger Diane101 said...

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