Equality

21 06 2013

As I sit here with my cup of coffee, sipping out the remains of the wonderful french vanilla flavoring, my mind wanders into the different areas of my life that I have not chosen to reveal on this blog.  Now, there are certain things that I inherently keep private, because that is a natural decision that pours out from who I am, but there are some things that really need to be brought to light and need to be addressed, need to be advocated for and need to be made known, particularly when the issue is at a crucial point in its fight.

Recently, the US Supreme Court has been hearing arguments on the status of same-sex marriage. Yesterday, that Court failed to announce its decision, and will hopefully announce it in the beginning of next week.  Regardless of the decision that is made, the tides will turn and life in the US is going to change as we know it.  Last year, North Carolina put on its ballot Amendment One, which was pushed for as a “gay marriage” amendment.  (Despite the fact that this is a vote against civil unions.  Not gay marriage.  Additionally, when this same law was approved in Ohio, it was used to ensure that the rights of those in domestic partnerships were not protected.)

We can debate about the issues and the rights/wrongs of being gay til we become blue in the face.  We can discuss the ethics and we can discuss the motivations behind it.  We can even try to get to the source of a person’s gay desires.  But…that’s not what I’m talking about.

There are just some things that are not up to discussion.  And I do believe that this is one of them.  Regardless of what you believe, whether you believe it is right or wrong…the single crucial factor that remains is the answer to the question of:  “What is equality?  How can we apply equality?”

The notion of equality is a very lofty standard.  It is such a high standard because it requires us to get off of our selfish pedestal and make sure that the rights and values of those around us, regardless of our agreement to their belief, to make sure that those rights and values are protected.  To believe in someone else’s rights does not interfere or restrict my own rights.   I think this is where people get all messed up on the topic of gay marriage.  Let’s apply this to my experience at Subway.  I always get the veggie sub.  If a man in front of me gets a sub with meat, and the lady behind me gets a salad…does either of their choices affect me?  Surely not.  It’s the same with gay marriage.  Just because you don’t agree with it, does not mean that someone else’s decision or way of life affects yours.  Should this gay marriage decision be passed…it does not invalidate any marriages already deemed acceptable or “straight”.  In fact, it adds to the beauty of the face of mature relationships everywhere.  Brittney Spear’s 72-hour marriage reflects even more poorly on the face of marriage than does two gay people who have been together for years.

Let’s put this in another perspective.  I am pro-choice.  I believe it is the mother’s right to choose, and no one should be allowed to make that choice for the mother, because it is the mother’s body that will be affected by the pregnancy.  Personally, I am also pro-life.  If the circumstance ever were to happen to me, I don’t think that I would be able to terminate a pregnancy.  I do not see these as two opposite heads of the same quarter, because in acts of war, capital punishment and other circumstances, I am also pro-life.  I do not believe that we accomplish very much by killing people.  I don’t think it’s right that we try to teach people that killing people is wrong by killing people.  Let’s say you are a man, and we have no prior experience, we just pass each other on the road everyday….does my personal belief affect you?  Not at all.  We still simply pass each other on the road everyday as we drive to work.

I do believe that there is a higher stake at this rather than an individual being right or wrong when we consider the topic of marriage rights.  I believe that equality is higher than right or wrong.  There are just some American values that are like that.  I understand that throughout history, the definition of equality has changed, but that does not mean that we should restrict that equality and restrict that progress.

In fact, the only document that we all believe and adhere to here in these United States are the documents set up by our forefathers in the Constitution, in the Declaration of Independence.  We learn about these documents in school, I had to recite the introduction of the Declaration of Independence in my Civics class in 10th grade.  I’d like to cite an important part of it here:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

I love this!  This is some of the most powerful words that I still catch myself being so enthralled by these groundbreaking words.  According to this, equality is a truth that is self-evident, that men and women are made from the same materials, the same flesh, we come into the world naked as a jay-bird, and we go out of it without the ability to hang on to the things we acquire in life.  We are given the opportunities that we are given, and there are certain things that should not be denied from each of these men, these rights, if you will.  People have the right to pursue their life in the fullest.  People have the right to be free, and to have that liberty.  And people have the right to pursue that which brings them happiness.  Government, according to this, is instituted to secure these rights, to make sure that the rights of the people are not restricted, and to maintain their balance between the different rights that there are.  Additionally, because the government derives from the consent of the governed, should a government become so distant from the concerns of the American people, the people have the right to abolish it, and make a new government that continues to build upon the values for the sake of their safety and happiness.

This is the American value that I claim the most.  These are the words that thrill my heart so deeply.

Because I believe in these words, I do believe that the issue of marriage equality falls under the premises of the equal rights that are unalienable.

Many of the disagreements against marriage equality come from religious forces and factors.  I used to be a part of that community, until I realized that my religious beliefs do not apply to everyone else (and then my religious beliefs changed concerning gay marriage, but that’s a different story).  And because I believe in equality, I also believe in their right to disagree.  Their disagreement with me does not hinder or restrict my belief in support of marriage equality.  I celebrate and will advocate for their right to express their opinions and perspectives, as long as it is done in a respectful and appropriate way.  They too, should celebrate and advocate for my right to express my opinions as long as I do so in a respectful and appropriate way.

If you agree with all of the religious reasons for not advocating marriage equality, that is fine.  Don’t have a gay marriage.  Don’t marry someone of the same-sex, and your disagreement with marriage equality is secured.  But we cannot impose religious beliefs upon those who do not have a religious belief, or to those who disagree with that said religious belief.  I would say that I am a member of the Christian faith.  And I also would say that it is wrong for us to oppose marriage equality on the basis of religious belief alone.

So if we throw out religious reasons as a defense, because we understand that not everyone is “Christian” or has that particular religious belief, then we come into a series of myths.  These myths are not based on fact, and quite honestly, seem to disregard the basic humanity of gay people.

So what truth is there?  What are truthful reasons that we have, to continue to hinder the rights of those who have same-sex attraction?

From what I have seen and experienced and heard, beyond that, there’s no other explanation, we just go back to religious reasons.

Maybe you disagree.  Maybe you don’t believe that advocating for equality in the realm of marriage is the right thing to do.  That is fine.  I am still your friend.  We will still eat dinner and we will still have a relationship that is based on other things.  Maybe you agree, that is fine.  We will celebrate the fact that two human beings agree on something, and then continue on with our lives.  This, among many other issues, should not be an issue that divides humans from one another, and put them at an irreconcilable spot in their relationship.  The relationships that we have with each other are far too rare and valuable for us to simply throw out the window.

This weekend, my best friend is getting married.  And as she says her vows and walks down the aisle and becomes the wife of her husband, I will look forward to my own wedding day, with eager anticipation.  But I will also look forward to the day that I am able to say that anyone who loves another person can gladly experience that bond of marriage as well.  I am eagerly anticipating the day that my friends who are part of the gay community can also enjoy the rights and benefits offered to married couples.  There’s just something about getting married that is a celebration, and there’s just something about being married that I am sure is a very wonderful feeling.

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