Tuesday, November 29, 2011

On Equality

I tend to shy away from controversial topics on my blog, mostly because I'm a huge coward that can hardly deal with confrontation in real life, let alone the anonymous confrontation that is so common on the internet.

But marriage equality is something that is extremely important to me, and something that I simply cannot stand being silent on.  I understand that this post may offend some and may even cost me followers, but frankly, if you're willing to cut me off because of my beliefs we probably weren't meant to be friends anyway.

Earlier this week Danielle posted this video, which I had seen a few times on Facebook:


If you have as slow an internet connection as mine, let me sum it up: gay people are the same as straight people and should be allowed to marry.

I grew up in a county that can be as small minded as it is sparsely populated.  Our high school was semi-private and as a result was often openly Christian in much of its dealings.  In past years, students were often shoved into lockers and endlessly harassed for not dressing femininely or, in the case of young men, dressing too femininely.  The school administration in the past has taken the position of, "boys will be boys," and has essentially done nothing to protect its student body.  In the recent gay marriage referendum, the entire county voted against marriage equality as did many of the rural areas in Maine.

My country should not be a place where this is expected to happen.

I know the majority of people against gay marriage cite religious reasons.  Our Constitution defends religious people from discrimination based on beliefs, which is as it should be.  Simply put, anyone in the United States of America can hate gay people--or any other people--all day long and twice on Sundays if so desired.  On the same token, no church should be required to marry any two people--gay or straight--that it does not wish to marry.  Rob and I did not protest the Catholic Church to allow us to marry (since neither of us are confirmed or church-goers) and gay people are no different.  Indeed, I'm sure many religious people and corresponding churches would hate my husband and I as secular humanists and that is their right, just as it is my right to hate anybody I want so long as it doesn't cause injury or harm.  Religious freedom is part of our nation's foundation.

It is only when those churches or other entities seek to inhibit the rights of homosexuals legally that this becomes an issue of pure bigotry.  There is simply no other excuse to deny rights of people whose actions in no way affect anyone else but themselves.  In my vast experience, I have yet to hear a single sound, logical, secular argument for why two consenting adults who love one another should not have the ability to legally marry.

In fact, it is my belief that the rights of the minority should never be voted on by the majority; indeed, nowhere in the history of the US or any other country have such initiatives to vote against civil rights been on the right side of history.  Interracial marriage, which did not actually become legal until 1967 and only then because of a Supreme Court ruling, would not have passed the voting process until the late 1990s.  Interestingly, many of the arguments used against interracial marriage at the time are indistinguishable from those used against homosexual marriage today.  It is unconscionable that here, in 2011, these arguments still hold water in the legislative process.  I am reminded of a quote: "Democracy is two wolves and a lamb deciding on what to have for dinner."

One of my least favorite arguments against gay marriage (and I hate all of them passionately) is the idea that "traditional" marriage has always been a man and a woman, and that marriage has always been a religious institution.  The fact is, marriage has served a variety of purposes throughout history.  Marriage actually predates recorded history and the Abrahamaic religions, as it served primarily to maintain property agreements and treaties. Even in the early days of the Old Testament, laws regarding marriage were wildly different than they are today (for example, a man whose brother dies must marry his sister-in-law; if a man rapes a woman they must marry, etc.). Indeed, our idea of marrying for love is relatively speaking somewhat recent, and the definition of marriage across cultures has changed constantly based on the views of the day.  If marriage were truly only a religious institution, my marriage to my husband would be considered less valid in the eyes of the law than a marriage that took place in a church, yet as far as I know I receive the same legal benefits of marriage as any other couple, religious or secular. Removing "man" and "woman" from the verbiage and replacing it with "person" changes nothing, nor does it violate any other marriage between two consenting adults.

This post is perhaps too verbose for its own good, so let me summarize by saying that gay marriage is not an issue of differing opinions or of "agreements to disagree."  Plain and simple, these are human rights we are talking about and should be treated as such.  Nowhere in our Constitution does it allow for someone to be discriminated against on religious or any other grounds and that should apply to all people.  No one will stop you from hating or not tolerating another human being in your own private life, but never should that hatred or intolerance be used to discriminate or deny anyone the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

To conclude I will say that having attended a few same-sex wedding ceremonies in my time, I--and I imagine anyone else in attendance--would be hard-pressed to find any differences between the mile-wide grin, glistening eyes and nervous jitters of those people and my own on my bona fide, legal, secular, heterosexual wedding day.

19 comments:

  1. beautifully said. i agree with everything.

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  2. I completely agree with you. I don't understand why people feel the need to limit others' happiness. My mom and I had a conversation about this a few years ago, and she is very conservative and Christian. She kept saying that marriage is a religious institution defined in the bible as between a man and woman. When I told her that if a judge in a courtroom is allowed to marry people, has it not evolved past that? That made her think. Thanks for posting this, I know sometimes it can be nerve wracking writing about something controversial and also something you feel so strongly about. Thanks for sharing. :)

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  3. I only wanted to comment on this to say that I don't hate you. :) I am a Christian and while I think that it would be hard to endorse homosexuality from that perspective (though there are many Christians who do) that in no way means that I hate gay people or nonchristians.

    In fact I don't have any problem at all with legislation to allow gay marriage so long as it doesn't take away the rights of churches or those who disagree with it. That's the point of our constitution, so long as you're not hurting anyone else, no matter how small your minority you have the right to believe and act on your beliefs as you will.

    But I just wanted to say that I don't hate you or anyone else just because I might have some differences of opinion. I think Christians are getting a reputation for hating gay people and I'm sure some of it is deserved but that just isn't not the case universally. I'm sure there are those who do but thousands of others (whether they disagree with it or not) have no hatred in their hearts towards gay people. I know I don't!

    I appreciate you sharing your stance on this. I think being able to share without judgement and listen with an open mind is really important on all sides of any issue and I respect you a lot for your passion and commitment to this one.

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  4. ok. so you know that i'm a christian. but i have nothing against gay people. i feel that it is not scripturally right, but at the same time, i do things that are 'immoral' as well. and i believe all sins are the same in the eyes of God. i think God loves all of us, and i also believe that we were all created equal, no matter what.

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  5. Well said my dear! You shouldn't apologize for what you believe in. :)

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  6. oh caitlin...you're awesome. i could enter an entire post as a comment here...but you and i (thankfully) got a chance to touch on this subject during one of our hang outs...we are on the same page. i think its easy to label gay/straight/fat/thin/immigrant/homeless/rich/poor (and so on)...which makes it easy to forget that these people are people too. humans who deserve every right and privilege...just as every other human does. share love, be love. i can't find any legitimate support for hatred in any religious or government book or document...and i'm pretty sure god would never approve of such a thing.

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  7. you pretty much said exactly what i feel. to know that there has been a VOTE on whether or not gay couples should be able to marry, but there hasn't been a vote on whether straight couples should be able to marry makes me absolutely livid.

    who one loves should absolutely NOT single them out and exclude them from the basic human rights.

    as far as the christian thing goes, i am a christian, but i guess i would be considered an ultra-liberal christian. maybe i've just taken things in in a completely different way than other christians, but what i've always been taught is that it is NOT up to us to judge ANYONE, so to think that people call themselves christians while bullying, hurting, and denying people different from themselves, well, it makes me ashamed to think that i could be put in the same group with them because we both call ourselves christians. there is a lot that is done in the name of religion that shouldn't be.

    i live in the bible belt, and i'm sure you've heard of jerry falwell, so it's pretty hard to speak out against this sort of discrimination, but i still try to make my voice heard, and good for you for speaking your mind!

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  8. AMEN! As a Catholic: I could not agree with you more! I think you are very brave to write such a post and put your feelings out there for God and the whole world to see and judge, and shame on anyone who judges you for this. As someone with several Gay friends, I know many of them would have marriages that would last the length of time and there is no reason they should not be allowed to share in the rights that straight people have. Good post! thank you for standing up for your beliefs and views!

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  9. One of my best guy friends is gay and honestly it breaks my heart when people make rude remarks about him or any of his friends. I think it's completely ridiculous that they wouldn't have the same rights as straight couples. I hope that one day we'll live in a world where this is not a problem in the LEAST. We have way, way too many other things to worry about on this planet.

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  10. I have several transgendered friends and of course gay/bi/lesbian friends and they are all such beautiful people; they are just as beautiful as all of my straight friends, they are just as beautiful as my atheist friends, my religious friends, and my indifferent friends..

    I hate living in a world that see's them as "sinners" and not just as people who deserve rights, we all sin and luckily we don't have to answer to each other.

    It will happen soon. I posted this on my FB last week, and have been seeing it around the blog world, a lot-- I was really surprised at how many people were willing to argue everyone deserving equal rights. The whole thing as had me in sort of a 'what the heck is wrong with people funk' to be honest.

    Love is love. You can't control who you love. And I will keep on loving people regardless of their sexual preference, religious beliefs, ignorance's, political stance, etc. The world needs more love.

    Ryan @ Thismustbetheplaceryan

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  11. It has grieved me to see how the church and christians are responding to homosexuals and gay marriage. I am a christian and I am part of the church, and yet I find myself not wanting to even associate myself with them on this issue - they have it all wrong. My family and some of my friends are passionately against it and I have caught a lot of flack for standing in opposition to their beliefs. Because I believe that they aren't beliefs - they are prejudices.

    I loved a lot of the points you made here - they are so true and logical and I wish that others could think about some of these things for a second. Because you are so right - marrying for love is a very recent thing.

    I don't want to consider myself a Christian - just a Jesus-follower. Jesus loved well, was compassionate, and welcoming of others. He did not shun, condemn or pass judgment, so why should I?

    Excellent post on this subject. I might just have to pass it along and disrupt some of my gay-opposing christian-feathered friends. (o;

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  12. love this. thanks for sharing

    your newest follower,
    elisabeth
    http://lavitaebella-elisabeth.blogspot.com/

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  13. A-freakin-MEN! That was perfectly said. I agree with everything.

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  14. my hubby has said to me often..."why make marriage legal at all" if you want to get married, whoever you are you, should be able to do it!! :)
    great post, more people should think like this!

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  15. there are two things i never talk about... if you haven't noticed... religion and politics. this is one time i will my friend. i am TOTALLY with you. i support gay marriage 100% ;)

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  16. Hey doll! I have no idea why this is just popping up into my news feed now...but I'm so glad you wrote this. I'm beginning to think that you and I may be the same person. I mean we're both kind of crazy with our anxiety, depression, emotionalness (made up that word) and the views you expressed above rattle around in my head all.the.time.

    Just saying - maybe we were separated at birth!
    Dani

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