Last week, voters approved gay marriage and rejected a constitutional ban on gay marriage for the first time in American history. I was proud to be an American and especially proud to be a Minnesotan. To be part of such an important moment in our nation’s history was a rush of emotions – excitement, pride, and even a little bit of disbelief. (I was so happy that I cried on my drive to work Wednesday morning when it finally sunk in that, yes, that really just happened.)
I’ve been asked a few times why this is so important to me since I’m not gay. I think people have asked me that because I’ve been very outspoken about the topic. The best way I can describe the reason I’m so outspoken is by sharing Martin Niemoller’s famous quote:
When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.
When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.
When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.
When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I was not a Jew.
When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.
I don’t remember a time when I didn’t support gay marriage or even believed that civil unions would be an acceptable substitute. In college, I had to take three Theology classes. I chose Christian Marriage for my final class during my 2004 Spring Semester. It was only natural that gay marriage came up as a topic and I was one of only a few students who argued that gays should be allowed to marry (however, there were many more supporters of civil unions but I’ve never been a fan of the “separate, but equal” logic).
Earlier this year, I reflected back on that class and realized my voice had softened since 2004. I still strongly believed in marriage equality but I was much more silent on the topic. I didn’t want to rock the boat or make people uncomfortable. I knew I wouldn’t feel good about myself if Minnesota passed a ban on gay marriage and I was idle about my opinions. I wouldn’t be able to look my friends and family who would be personally impacted by this amendment in the eyes if I didn’t speak up. So, that’s how I became the person who isn’t shy about sharing my belief.
What’s more important, though, is why I believe so strongly. Some of these points are supportive of gay marriage and some of them are my rebuttal to reasons people have given me against gay marriage (you might think I’m kidding with some of them, but I’m not):
Not allowing gays to marry is discrimination. Being gay is not a choice and there is no compelling evidence to support that it is a choice. Denying this group of people the same legal rights as people who are born heterosexual is discrimination. This is probably the most important reason why I support gay marriage.
It is not a slippery slope to polygamy. First, polygamy means one man with multiple wives, one woman with multiple husbands, or group marriage. Therefore, opposite-sex marriage is probably a more likely slippery slope (“if we let him marry one wife, pretty soon he’ll want to marry two or three!”). Second, marriage is intended as a way for a monogamous couple to legally commit to each other so they can enjoy many legal rights together throughout their lifetime. If society decides to debate whether the definition should be monogamous or polygamous, it won’t be due to gay marriage.
“God intended it this way” is not a strong enough argument. It violates the separation of church & state, not all churches even agree on that point and, if He intended marriage to be a certain way, interracial couples still wouldn’t be allowed to marry. It is the same argument that was used by people who didn’t believe interracial couples should be allowed to marry:
“Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.” – Leon Bazile, Trial Judge in Loving v. Virginia (1959)
Supporting gay marriage supports our troops. We have gay men and women in our Armed Forces and their committed partners deserve the same benefits as the wives or husbands of our heterosexual troops. Our troops sacrifice their lives for our country, they should be allowed the same rights as everyone else. This veteran and Republican politician provides a compelling argument about why it supports our troops:
Gays don’t cause hurricanes or floods. Yes, I was actually told that “We have to repent for our sins. God has flooded many cities because of gay people”. I didn’t respond because I didn’t even know what to say. It was right after Hurricane Sandy so I thought it was a highly inappropriate time to state this argument. If you’re wondering how gays cause hurricanes, here is a quick explanation:
Ok, all kidding aside, these are pictures of devastation from Hurricane Sandy to provide perspective on the seriousness of saying God floods cities because of gay people. Do you think God would inflict this kind of damage and destruction into people’s lives because He created gay people and has since decided to punish the world because He thinks being gay is a sin? I hope not. I will be really disappointed in Him if I get to the pearly white gates and it turns out to be true. I’ll probably self-deport back to Earth.
The fact that all four popular votes resulted in supporting marriage equality was an important tipping point for our country. There were two other significant successes this year when the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was ruled unconstitutional in Boston and again in New York, but last week was more important because the American citizens delivered the final decision with their votes. Previously, anti-gay marriage supporters dismissed the movement as being led by activist judges and legislators. I am not naive enough to think the change will be quick but I think we’re on the right path.
I welcome any additional points about gay marriage in the comments section. I know this can be a highly emotional topic for some people. All viewpoints are appreciated as long as they are respectfully stated.