What’s The Fuss With Gay Marriage?

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On Tuesday in Vermont, it was announced that the state was legalizing marriage between gay couples, this follows last week’s similar decision made by the state of Iowa. This makes Vermont the fourth state in the United States that legally recognizes gay marriage, with New York, New Jersey, Maine and New Hampshire making moves to do the same. Since I’m your MC girl in the morning, hence a newshound,  I was glancing through the New York Times article on the matter and thought I would take a look at the comments to see what “we” were saying…all 635 of them!

While most were positive and congratulatory, there were also heated concerns and statements of the corrosion of American society, how children of such unions are at risk and basically we are all going to hell if the American people allow two people of the same sex to marry. It seems that many pro-gay marriage arguments were based in the thought that marriage is a human right and to deny marriage to homosexuals is discriminatory and hateful. Opponents of such unions made a majority of their arguments using religious tones and moralistic doctrine….so here is my take: look at it from a legal standpoint and I wonder why we care so much? Oh, that’s right—because my religion tells me to.

First, let’s look at what marriage is on a basic level. Wikipedia gives a good breakdown:

Marriage is an institution in which interpersonal relationships (usually intimate and sexual) are acknowledged by the state, by religious authority, or by both. It is often viewed as a contract. Civil marriage is the legal concept of marriage as a governmental institution, in accordance with marriage laws of the jurisdiction. If recognized by the state, by the religion(s) to which the parties belong or by society in general, the act of marriage changes the personal and social status of the individuals who enter into it.”

People marry for many reasons, but usually one or more of the following: legal, social, and economic stability; the formation of a family unit; procreation and the education and nurturing of children; legitimizing sexual relations; to fulfill religious obligations; public declaration of love; or to obtain citizenship.

So basically, marriage is a declaration of love, but on a legal, state and federal level it is a binding contract between two people, and when looked at as a union by the government, there are changes in tax status, beneficiary rights, legal status and the like. Basically, you can have the long white dress, a gazillion flowers and the priest, but if it is not filed and recognized by the state, you aren’t legally married. On the flip-side, you can marry and register with the state without ever holding any type of ceremony, kissing the bride or throwing rice.

For the record, I consider myself to be a religious woman, so this is not a anti-God argument. But i’m not sure if religion really has a place in what state and federal governments make legal or not, especially when it comes to private unions between two consenting adults. If this is the case and the state and federal governments will to the pressure of religious organizations, it opens up a pandora’s box of what these groups can have on legal rulings concerning other personal freedoms and actions: education, medical procedures (hello abortion!), business practices and many more. So what if you aren’t down for Mark and Mike to sleep together, when your other basic rights are open to compromise, we are all in trouble.

Keeping that in mind, if you take the religious context out of the picture and view the issue from a purely legal level, I’m perplexed as to exactly why same-sex marriage, or unions are not legal. With our economy the way it is now, the business of marriage is absolutely huge and it has been proven (in California, before they nixed it) that allowing same-sex marriages to be legal, provides welcome lifts to local economies and supports small business owners. In addition to that, America as a whole could only stand to benefit from the established purchasing power that the LGBT community already has by encouraging dollars to remain on domestic soil.

Maybe it is the act of getting married that bothers some. Or the term “marriage”. If you believe that marriage is between a man and a woman…fine, calling same-sex marriages “civil unions”, “life-partners”, etc really doesn’t make a difference to me. I, and many others are more concerned about the fact that if we are not allowing two adults to perform a legal act on the basis of sexual orientation, that we could backslide into racial and gender discrimination using the same tenants of morality and religion. The bible also says “thou shalt not kill”, but I can legally purchase a gun in 45 minutes in the State of New York. I wouldn’t do that, but I have the right to. I’d rather go and see Mark and Mike get married than get shot at.

We are all held responsible for our actions, on ALL levels. Whether you agree that homosexuality and same-sex marriages are right or not is one thing and a personal decision, denying the basic right to a legal union only ends up hurting us all in the end.

Besides, it’s all about the reception anyway.

-JBaker

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