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.