With seven states and Washington, D.C. legalizing gay marriage, the argument for equality has reached the federal level. As legal movements for black rights and women’s rights fade into history books, it is high time this last inequality in civil rights be corrected.

A couple of basics must be set before arguments can begin. Fundamentally, one must understand that being gay is not a preference, choice or fad; it is an orientation. A gay person does not choose his or her orientation any more than a straight person makes a conscious decision to be straight. Furthermore, it is unlikely anyone would choose to be discriminated against by a segment of the population or to be treated as a second-class citizen by the law.

Secondly, civil unions do not amount to total equality. Marriage is about devoting one’s life to the person he loves, not about getting a dental plan or tax break. Marriage has societal and cultural implications beyond a base definition and the fact that civil unions are only reserved for gays represents an unequal separation on a basic level.

While other issues will be addressed, it is important for one to look past all other elements but the law when discussing gay marriage. The 14th Amendment states “no state shall… deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” When this was ratified, it stood as a support for civil rights of African Americans and it serves the same purpose today: it means one cannot be treated differently based on an orientation he or she does not choose.

Moreover, The United States Supreme Court has established repeatedly that  the right to marry is so fundamental, it cannot be abridged by states (Zablocki v. Redhail). This ruling sets a clear precedent for gay marriage and a federal banning of anti-marriage rules.

While the country was founded on a platform of decentralized control to the states, civil rights must be provided by federal law, even if states disagree. This was the case in 1967 when the federal government declared laws against interracial marriage illegal (17 states still had laws against this at the time and 24 states had them a decade before).

Opponents of gay marriage believe marriage should not be changed because it has been held constant for over 6000 years. However, the fact is that marriage changes all the time. Not only was interracial marriage illegal only a century ago in the United States, but marriage was not even a Christian sacrament until 1250 when the Catholic clergy declared it so.

The truly radical aspect of marriage is marrying for love, since feudal relations were dominantly about a pairing of skills and wealth. Marriage adapts to the evolving nature of humanity. It is naive to think something created thousands of years ago can fit perfectly to our times.

Additionally, the claim that gay marriage ruins the sanctity of heterosexual marriage is equally misguided. Rather, the fact that two people who love and respect each other want to dedicate their lives to one another supports the sanctity of marriage, which has taken a few hits in contemporary culture.

For example, a man and a woman can meet in Las Vegas, pay $110 and get married in under an hour (reception shots not included). Meanwhile, Larry King and Liz Taylor have 13 divorces between them and even lifetime prisoners like the Menedez brothers can get married in prison.

With all these distortions, it is hard to imagine a husband and wife deciding on divorce or a heterosexual couple choosing not to marry because the gay couple down the street was able to tie the knot.

Now, it is time to address the issue hiding in the closet: religion. While not all Christians are against equality, some of the largest dissent of gay marriage stems from the religious community.

Hateful bible thumpers quote Leviticus 18:22 every time the issue comes up “Thou shall not lie with mankind as with womankind; it is an abomination,” but they fail to see the real issues mentioned in  Leviticus. Just pages away, Leviticus outlines other “abominations” facing humanity, like eating shellfish (Leviticus 11) and wearing two types of cloth, like cotton and polyester, at once (Leviticus 19).

More rational equality opponents cite God’s intention for a male and female to be able to make a child; thus, only a man and a woman can be married. However, marriage is not only to make babies. Following this logic, any woman who could not conceive should be banned from marriage.

The bottom line is that it is difficult to empathize with a situation without experiencing it, but civil rights requires an open mind.  Marriage is a fundamental right that belongs to everyone.

By admin

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