Whether religion, politics or economics, I hold very specific points of view. With that said, I also like to be reasonable and see the other side of an issue. When it comes to marriage equality, however, I cannot see the opponent’s view. This makes sense, though, because there is no logical reason to oppose same-sex marriage – and social conservatives know it.
Looking at historical context, it’s not all too surprising that Proposition 8 passed. Take any group of entitled people – be it European explorers, wealthy plantation owners or the Roman Catholic Church – and any people different in race, faith or sexuality are bound to have their rights stripped from them. This has happened time and time again with slavery, European colonization, African-American civil rights and now sexuality.
I really hate to make the comparison between sexual orientation and race, but both groups have faced laws that reduced their rights into oblivion. From 1866 to 1967, it was a felony for an interracial couple to have sex or get married in many states. Under this incredibly misguided statute, a person could face up to seven years in prison because of love. Thankfully, in 1967 the United States Supreme Court led by Chief Justice Earl Warren ruled in Loving v. Virginia that no state could enforce legal restriction on race-based marriage. Fast forward to 1996, when the Defense of Marriage Act allowed all states to choose whether or not to recognize same-sex marriage. Sound familiar? It should.
Let’s imagine the debate as a boxing ring. To our right, we have socially ignorant religious bigots and insurance companies reluctant to provide benefits. To our left we have an estimated 1.2 million homosexual couples, the White House and 53 percent of Americans, according to Gallup. Unfortunately, those against marriage equality – such as presidential candidates Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich and Pope Benedict XVI – have a lot of sway.
What’s the argument, you ask? Enough with the rhetoric! In the first round of litigation to maintain Proposition 8, the main argument was a matter of definition. In attorney Charles Cooper’s closing arguments, he told the judge, “Your honor, you don’t have to have evidence for this … You only need to go back to your chambers and pull down any dictionary or book that defines marriage.” Cooper asked Judge Vaughn Walker to withhold equal rights simply based on Merriam Webster’s definition of marriage – a definition from a time when it was OK to enslave a fellow human being.
We are better than this. We Americans need not play into the hands of those who strive for the classification of our fellow persons as inferior. Ted Olsen, the plaintiff’s attorney, came up with a perfect thought in regards to marriage equality, “You can’t take away the rights of tens of thousands … and come in here and say ‘I don’t know’ and ‘I don’t have to prove anything.’”
Olsen is right. In the wake of study after study showing that homosexual couples harm neither children nor society, the only thing social conservatives can say is, “Gay marriage is wrong because gay marriage is wrong.”
If that’s all the opponents of marriage equality have left to say, then it’s about time we simply stop listening, think of the brighter future to come and have a party. Maybe even a wedding.