Some Thoughts on Gay Marriage

I am one of the youngest, if not the youngest, person to participate on this blog. I am so young that I cannot remember a time when gay marriage was not allowed; I was only 13 when the Massachusetts Supreme Court issued its decision ordering the state to begin granting marriage licenses to gay couples. As with many other issues, gay rights highlight a massive generational rift in our country. My generation is overwhelmingly pro-gay rights and does not see why gay marriage has caused such controversy. With that in mind, I’d like to present my view on the national “debate” over this issue that has played out over the past nearly seven years.

When gay marriage was legalized in Massachusetts, I really did not understand the full meaning of what happened. I was simply too young. I barely even remember it beginning. What I do remember is the campaign to put a referendum on the ballot about gay marriage. I was only a freshman in high school at the time, not exactly an age for gaining clear insight into the world of adults and their politics. All I can remember at the time is being shocked that anyone would oppose gay marriage. It was a question of happiness, a judgment that has stuck with me ever since.

As I watched state after state put minority rights to a popular vote, I became increasingly distressed at our nation’s willingness to happily and eagerly discriminate against minorities. I have since realized that I bore witness to what will hopefully be the final wave state-sanctioned discrimination in our country.

I remember when California legalized gay marriage. And I remember very well, in my freshman year of college, waking up the morning after Barack Obama had been elected president. I remember walking into my 10am German class and speaking to another bleary-eyed freshman who had had far too little sleep the night before. He was from San Francisco. I asked him what had happened to his state. He could only be ashamed. That morning’s celebration was tempered by the magnitude of the injustice that had occurred.

The two events in California highlight very clearly my view on this subject. Again, I return to the question of happiness. When gay marriage was legalized, there were tears of joy. When Proposition 8 was passed, there were tears of pain. For me, the debate was never more complicated than that.

The decision yesterday by Judge Walker to declare Proposition 8 unconstitutional has made for very interesting reading. He has reiterated what I already knew: there are no rational arguments for banning gay marriage. He has reiterated what I hoped was true about my country: that all individuals, no matter what their identity, have the same fundamental rights. And, for me, this decision is a vindication of what I felt in response to the referendum in Massachusetts: that, constitutional questions aside, it is unconscionable and unforgiveable to deny homosexual couples the right to marry. I have never understood the desire to deny them happiness. I have never understood the desire to ostracize them, make them less than human. I have never understood the desire to make them something less than American citizens.

While I am horrified that more than half of the country has written discrimination into their state constitutions, from yesterday’s decision I take renewed faith in our country’s commitment to individual freedom and human rights. May that faith be strengthened by the Ninth Circuit and the Supreme Court.

6 Responses to Some Thoughts on Gay Marriage

  1. Righty Bulger says:

    When you peel away layers of rhetoric, this debate isn’t about the right to marriage or the right to equality. It’s about the right to money, plain and simple. As always young man, when you want to get to the heart of a matter, follow the money.

    This entire nationwide debate is ultimately about access for gay partners to social security benefits, health benefits, etc of their spouses. The rest of it is meaningless and I’m willing to bet a bundle on the fact that if you told homosexual couples they could have access to the money but never have access to the marriage certificate recognizing them as equals in marriage, they’d gladly make that trade.

  2. ML says:

    Do you have any evidence for your claim that gays only care about the economic benefits? If you are against gay marriage, just say so and we will know that you’re proud of your bigotry. Don’t hide behind economic rhetoric.

  3. Andrew says:

    Righty Bulger,

    1) I would suggest that you read the decision from Goodridge v. Department of Public Health. The Massachusetts Supreme Court disagrees with your assessment. As did the California Supreme Court. One presumes that the other state Supreme Courts that legalized gay marriage all made their decisions on the same logic.

    2) I would also suggest that you read the Defense of Marriage Act, which gives the federal government the right to discriminate against gay couples. Marriage is not the easiest way for gay couples to achieve the rights and privileges you mention; they currently can’t because of DOMA. Civil unions are much more popular among the general public and are much more common across the country.

    3) Time after time, gay couples have rejected civil unions, which give all the rights and benefits of marriage, as being inadequate. The debate over marriage itself has very little to do with the benefits you’ve mentioned; civil unions grant those. Gay couples want marriage.

  4. Righty Bulger says:

    ML, I don’t deal in bigotry. I deal in fact. Save your name calling for someone else. You don’t know who I am and you don’t know what type of bigotry my people may have faced.

    The links below pretty much say it all. Andrew, none of your three points address the fact that without the equal recognition of marriage under law, homosexuals will never get access to the benefits they seek at the FEDERAL level. Civil unions CANNOT be transferred from state to state, a la marriage rights. Hence, the battle to call it gay marriage instead of civil unions.

  5. DickH says:

    I have to come to Righty’s defense: I have no idea who he is, but based on reading his comments on other issues, I can say that he believes getting a free ride from the government drives the behavior of a whole chunk of the American populace regardless of sexual orientation. But I don’t agree that the central motivation of same sex couples’ desire for marriage is to obtain formal benefits (although that’s surely a very valid consideration for them). The status of “married” is woven through a relationship in hundreds of subtle and not-so-subtle ways. They should be treated like everyone else and not singled out as if they’re somehow inferior.