In November 2008, California unfortunately passed a ban on same-sex marriage by a relatively narrow margin. Many of our friends, family, and neighbors who are gay have now been essentially told that they are “second-rate” Americans and should not be allowed the same inalienable rights as those of us who are straight. Perhaps as I have, you have decided you can no longer sit on the sidelines and watch the injustice take place as a spectator. Perhaps, you also agree that the right to marry another should be an unquestioned freedom in this country. Perhaps you are also able to set aside your religious or other faith-based beliefs, in order to respect and protect the rights of gay Americans.
If so, here are a few tips that may help you in your quest to support same-sex marriage.
RESEARCH THE ISSUES (Pro & Con):
- The issue that marriage has always been between a heterosexual couple –Did you know in 1948, The California Supreme Court explained that “the right to marry is the right to join in marriage with the person of one’s choice”? Perez v. Sharp (1948) Or that from 1850-1977 CA Law was gender neutral? At that time, the issue was inter-racial couples marrying. See Wikipedia for more info.
- The issue that allowing same-sex marriage will desecrate the sanctity of “traditional marriage”. Really? Last time I checked the studies, the sanctity of marriage was in peril, and the gays (since they’re not allowed to participate) had nothing to do with it. We (the straight crowd)… who have a skyrocketing divorce rate, marriages riddled with infidelity and disrespect… WE did this.
- The issue that if same-sex marriages are allowed, churches will be forced to marry couples in direct opposition of their fundamental beliefs. Perhaps. If so, then we will need to rewrite our laws that govern Freedom of Religion. And lets be clear about something — Gays are fighting for their CIVIL rights to marry. Every heterosexual couple, regardless of their religious beliefs (or absence thereof) is REQUIRED to obtain a civil marriage license to be recognized as legally married. Proof of a religious ceremony is not a factor.
- Domestic Partnership does not allow the same legal rights to a gay couple as legally married straight couples currently enjoy. Consider this scenario: You, the straight couple, have been legally married to your spouse for more than 10 years, when one of you becomes gravely ill. Who do you want to speak for you in a time of crisis? The person you know and loved and have shared your life day-to-day, or an estranged relative hundreds of miles away? If you’re a gay couple, that choice is not even an option.
- Many equate the injustice of denying same-sex marriage to the discriminatory laws that banned inter-racial marriage (which, by the way, were overturned in 1967).
DISCUSS YOUR FEARS AND CONCERNS — Are you worried that others may think YOU’RE GAY if you stand up for the rights of gays in your community? Perhaps — but I doubt it will be the gays that think that! Only you can decide how to overcome your own fears and phobias. Being secure in my own beliefs allows me to have tolerance for the beliefs of others.
PROTECT THE CHILDREN — And I don’t mean protect the children from the “deviant gays!” I’ve heard one too many speeches from prominent religious leaders peppered with that phrase! And I have, on more than one occasion, been appalled at what people across the globe and throughout history will do in the name of “religious conviction”. I mean PROTECT THE CHILDREN. Respect their needs to live in a community, a country, a world, free from bullying and hate. Studies show that children THRIVE when they are loved and nurtured – period. ADOPT AN ATITUDE OF COMPASSION — If you know someone who is gay, and who may be deeply affected by the issue, reach out from your HEART. For many, knowing that you VALIDATE their fight for justice is powerful and healing beyond the words.
EMBRACE AN ATTITUDE OF EVOLUTION: There is a new dawn on the horizon in America – we cannot truly “stand together” and move forward as one nation, if we are forcing some members of our society to walk two steps behind. Being gay goes much further than sexual relationships, it IS their core identity as much as being heterosexual is yours and mine. Being American means embracing and defending the rights of all to be afforded life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, without persecution or discrimination. It should not be the responsibility of any same-sex couple to prove their worthiness to these freedoms.
ADOCATE: Write a blog or post a supportive message on your myspace or facebook profile. Walk in a parade, wear a t-shirt, send a letter to your elected officials… there are a variety of things you can do to support and defend. But most importantly, be INVOLVED. One day, as we evolve, it is highly likely that we will look back on this period of history as a time of controversy and oppression fueled by nothing more than predjudice and fear. We’re better than that… aren’t we? ** I welcome all relevant and respectful comments. For more information on how to get involved: www.letcaliforniaring.org