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.