Gay marriage: Really, what's there to debate?
Gay marriage is the hot topic of the week, thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court, and of course the debate has spilled over to social media.
Many of my friends, I noticed, posted as their Facebook profile photos the red background with the pink equals sign, designed to signify their support for marriage equality in a week when the justices of the highest court in the land are considering the legality of California’s Prop 8 legislation and the Defense of Marriage Act.
Celebrities and pundits alike are weighing in, and regardless of the court’s ultimate decision, the noise and fury on both sides won’t be dying down any time soon. But it will die down. And I am convinced that gay marriage will be legal in my lifetime. As it should be, in my opinion.
A couple of months ago, I wrote about Jim Nabors, TV’s iconic Gomer Pyle, marrying his longtime partner, after which I received several emails and Facebook messages — the majority of them in agreement with my opinion. Others, however, expressed their displeasure that The Daily Times would even allow me to write such an opinion, much less express one that seems to slander the moral fabric of decent society. I’m sure this column will receive a similar reaction, and that’s OK. Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion. If you don’t like gay marriage, don’t go to a gay wedding, I say. It’s as simple as that.
Because regardless of how you feel about homosexuals, you probably interact with one or two every day. They’re not wearing a rainbow patch on their shirt, I’m sure, and they don’t go out of their way to declare to perfect strangers that they’re gay, but they’re out there. They’re responsible, productive members of society who teach your kids, bag your groceries, work on your cars and wait on your tables.
And they want the same things the rest of us want: To be happy and to enjoy the rights that the rest of us do. To live their lives in relative peace and harmony with the rest of us, without fear of judgment for how they do so and without fear of reprisal for being who they are.
Around here, the biggest opposition to gay marriage seems to come from the religious crowd. They are, of course, entitled to believe as they feel so led, and if they’re convinced that homosexuals are going to hell, that’s their right. But why, I ask, should their religious beliefs dictate what others should do under the law? Isn’t that whole separation of church and state thing applicable here? If marriage is a legal institution, shouldn’t that make religious arguments in this (and all legal matters) null and void?
I have no doubt that some of those who oppose gay marriage on religious grounds feel that I, along with other supporters of it, are bound for hell right alongside the homosexuals. I don’t take it personally, but neither do I agree, and we can go back and forth and cherry pick Scripture the live-long day to argue our respective viewpoints.
Ultimately, I think the debate can be settled in a couple of ways.
One, answer me this: How will allowing gay people to get married hurt you and your marriage? Will you suddenly feel less committed to your spouse? Will you feel your relationship is somehow cheapened? I love The Wife, and it doesn’t matter if it’s Adam and Eve, Adam and Steve or Eve and Emma who get married; their union makes mine no less special. It doesn’t make me love my wife any less. And it certainly doesn’t mean that our bond is any less sacred.
Two, and perhaps this is the better solution, perhaps we should do away with marriage altogether as it’s overseen by the government. Put marriage back where it originated: under the governance of religious institutions. When it comes to property rights and inheritance and all of the other legalities that go along with two people joined under the eyes of the law, call them civil unions and issue such licenses to any two consenting adults who wish to pledge themselves to one another.
Let marriages be performed by the clergy. Don’t approve of gay marriage and don’t want to attend a house of worship that would allow such a thing? That’s fine; there are plenty out there that will meet your needs. You and your spouse of the opposite sex can hold your marriage ceremony there and feel secure in the knowledge that no gays will ever wed in the same spot.
Think gay marriage is great and should be allowed? Hey, there are churches for you, too. You can attend and worship hand-in-hand with your gay friends, go to their weddings and toast their marriages — just as valid, just as sacred and just as intimate — as you would those of straight couples.
That wouldn’t end the debate or bring an end to the cultural war that’s now raging, but it’s a start. And maybe, just maybe, it would mean that a vocal few who feel the need to browbeat others with their opinions — Scripturally based or not — will pipe down and let the rest of us go on about our lives.
Steve Wildsmith is the Weekend editor for The Daily Times. Contact him at (firstname.lastname@example.org) or at 981-1144.