One year ago the nation watched as voters in California took to the polls and overturned that state’s same-sex marriage statute after months of fighting, television ads and hateful propaganda. In a much quieter (at least relative to national media attention) environment, Maine voters did the same thing on Nov. 3, overturning their state’s statute that legalized same-sex marriage.
What I don’t understand is how anyone who calls themselves American and claims to believe in the principles of freedom and liberty upon which this nation is based can go to the polls and cast a vote to deny a basic freedom to another human being. Before the conservatives get their knickers in a twist, let me say: I know, the right to marry is not delineated in the Constitution. However, it is a right that other members of society enjoy, and hence it is one that all should be allowed to share equally. The very nature of liberty demands such equality.
In the past there have been several laws restricting marriage. Interracial marriages were not allowed in some states. Just recently a Justice of the Peace in Louisiana was forced to resign over his refusal to perform a marriage for an interracial couple. But there’s the difference: He was forced to resign over his bigotry. Somehow we’ve decided as a society that it’s acceptable to oppress our brothers and sisters in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community. Why is that?
Every law we pass in some way restricts liberty. That is the nature of law and the nature of society. As individuals we surrender certain freedoms and accept certain limitations in order to live within the confines of a social order. In a free society, however, those limitations are accepted equally by all members, as are the privileges of citizenship. A right is not truly a right when it is reserved only for certain parts of society.
You may read this and ask why this is such an issue. It’s just a marriage, right? Perhaps. However, in addition to the legal benefits that stem from marriage, there is the real issue of basic human liberty. All people have the basic right to love and be loved, to marry and to pursue happiness on their own terms. I certainly don’t want anyone telling me who I can love, who I can marry. How could I possibly justify making those decisions for anyone else?
I’m going to ask this question again, and I’ll keep asking it until someone gives me a decent answer. How does the marriage of a gay couple adversely impact the marriage of anyone else? That’s the argument we hear, right? The denigration of “traditional” marriage. From whence comes this denigration?