Guest Post: Is it any wonder
Posted by Mike on Friday, February 11, 2011
As some of you are aware, a few months ago there were a number of high profile cases involving gay teens committing suicide. This included Tyler Clementi, a college student that jumped off of the George Washington Bridge after two of his peers humiliated him by videotaping him having sexual relations with another man. This prompted many prominent members of society, including President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and many others to participate in the “It Gets Better” campaign. The idea was to send a message that it is possible to have a happy life while being a member of the LGBT community.
Ultimately, even though I am straight, I had no problem understanding why a gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered teen would want to kill themselves. All I had to do is think back to elementary and middle school days. “Gay” was used as a derogatory slur the other kids would call each other. Throughout high school, and even every so often in college, the word “gay” was used as a synonym for stupid. Growing up in the 90s, I thought being gay was something sinister. And to think, I was by no means living in a conservative household or in a conservative part of the country.
High profile religious leaders have blamed gays for terrorist attacks. Many choose to practice selective literalism and hide behind passages in Leviticus to justify their intolerance and sheer hatred for the LGBT community. Gays are currently not able to get married in all but a handful of states, and those marriages are currently not recognized by the federal government. The LGBT community is not covered by the Fair Housing Act, and is not immune from employment discrimination by federal law and 30 states. Is it any wonder that some gay teens can’t picture a happy life for themselves?
What I believe is most telling is not a single prominent Republican produced an “It gets better” public service announcement. I would like to think that we would all be on the same page and believe that it is a bad thing for people to be committing suicide, regardless of who they are. It is important to remember that silence is acceptance, and that we must condemn not only those who perpetrate the hatred, but those who remain silence and allow the hatred to live and fester in our society. Martin Luther King Jr. often remarked that “the ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.” Unfortunately, some have taken it upon themselves to prevent others to share the same rights that heterosexual couples already enjoy; this opposition baffles me. I have yet to hear a single good reason as to why we should not legalize gay marriage, and eliminate any law that actively discriminates against the LGBT community.
For starters, it seems that the attempt to stop gay marriage is futile, and I do not see how it could be stopped from becoming an American institution. Although most point to Biblical scripture as the reason for their opposition, last time I checked we were not a theocracy, but a constitutional republic. The American Constitution clearly defines a separation between church and state. Furthermore, the 5th Amendment prevents any person from being “…deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law…” Also, section 1 of the 14th Amendment states “…No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” It should be noted that the 5th Amendment applies directly to the federal government, whereas, the 14th Amendment applies to the states. In a modern context, that could easily include the right of marriage.
Social conservatives often grumble that allowing gay marriage would be “redefining marriage.” The fact of the matter is, if we hadn’t redefined marriage Catholics would be unable to marry Protestants, Christians would be unable to marry Jews, and blacks would not be able to marry whites. Marriage is something that has been in flux over the years; changing to reflect the social changes of the era.
Another issue people should think about is “Why do you care if two people you don’t even know of the same sex want to marry each other?” How exactly would this affect your personal life? The answer is little to nil. I have to say that it wouldn’t bother me in the slightest if same-sex marriage became the law of the land. Some may worry that their church may be forced into recognizing those marriages. This fear is unfounded. The separation of church and state works both ways; other than laws like not killing the parishioners, and abiding to building codes; the state has no business in the affairs of the church.
Some may worry that allowing same sex couples to marry would hurt the sanctity of marriage, since Americans are all about upholding the sanctity of marriage. That is why 1 in 2 marriages end in divorce, according to the Kinsey Institute 50% of men and 26% of women have engaged in extramarital sex at least once, and Britney Spears’ 72-hour just for fun marriage is allowed to happen. I am not saying that marriage should not be respected. What I am arguing is that when so many do not respect the love and commitment that corresponds with marriage; why not allow marriage to a group that does?
History tells us that when ever there is some social change that becomes obvious to the mainstream, there is always a group that will fight it until the very end. I am convinced that the LGBT community deserves full and equal protection under the law. In that sense, 30 years from now when they make the documentary about the gay rights movement and they need a bad guy that fought it every step of the way, that person certainly won’t be me.