September 26, 2010
Marriage Matters to Me
Originally posted on BlueOregon.com.
I have a confession to make. Up until last year, I didn’t wholeheartedly support gay marriage. Not because I didn’t think that gay and lesbian people should be able to marry, just that I thought it wasn’t the right strategy to making it happen. I thought word play could replace the damage of discrimination by making it easier for people who opposed gay marriage to accept a “civil union” which accomplished the same thing. It turns out that’s not the case.
Civil unions for gay couples only codifies discrimination. And the larger battle beyond legally recognizing the rights of same sex couples is the battle of the hearts and minds. We know that the tide is turning. America’s youth overwhelmingly support tolerance and equality toward gay and lesbian people and majorities say they should be able to legally marry. But as Honorable Judge Walker wrote in his decision overturning Proposition 8, “fundamental rights may not be submitted to [a] vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections.” And I will take that a step further, fundamental rights should not be subject to a waiting period as public opinion catches up.
Personally, I would rather have the government only grant civil unions to all couples and have marriage be left to everyone’s respective religions. But that would be to deny the powerful cultural hold that marriage (whether secular or spiritual) has in our society. And it lets us all off the hook from, once and for all, confronting institutionalized discrimination of our citizens based on sexual orientation.
Knowing first-hand how marriage discrimination affects my friends and family members, it’s not enough for me to support a policy workaround. Marriage equality = civil rights issue. And it’s not good enough to say privately that you support gay marriage. It must be said in public. So, say it loud, say it often, say it with dignity. Marriage matters to me.