Friday, July 1, 2011

My Bedroom Is My Business: Legalization of Homosexual Marriages in 21st Century U.S. Culture

Whether it is discussed in the framework of politics or religion, LGBT (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender) matters have the tendency to be divisive subjects for many people. Marriage for gay couples is particularly divisive because many people view marriage as a religious based subject. I will gladly state my position on marriage for gay couples before submitting my points regarding my stance….I do not think the word ‘marriage’, or the action of marriage, is maintained exclusively by any group of people. At one point and time, it was generally used for white men and white women; then it became recognized for various ethnicities but only among those within the same ethnic group. Marriage, in the United States of America, was finally ‘legally’ accepted for any man and woman regardless of race. I am sure there are people who still believe that white people should marry only white people and black people should only marry black people. Some people think that different religions or sects of religions should not marry (e.g. Jews shouldn’t marry Christians or even Jehovah’s Witness shouldn’t marry Baptists). Some people hold the belief that wealthier people should not marry people with less wealth. While these are matters of opinions and personal preferences, from a legal stand point none of it matters. As far as the law, in any state and on a federal level, none of the aforementioned examples matter. With the exception of polygamy, any one of any background can marry any one of any other background—anyone but gay couples.
I think, in many wedding ceremonies, the phrase “marriage should be taken seriously and not entered into lightly” is uttered in some form or fashion. With the recent legalization of marriage for gay couples in New York and the upcoming passing of legislation for Civil Unions in Rhode Island, the issue of marriage for gay couples makes another lap on the cycle of social and news media conversations. In the most recent of three polls (Gallup Poll, CNN Poll, and the ABC/Washington Post Poll), support of marriage for gay couples appears to be favorable with 53%, 51%, and 53% respectively in favor of the recognition of marriage for gay couples as legal.
While the growing trend appears to be in favor of supporting the legal recognition of marriage for gay couples, only six states thus far have legalized the unions of marriage for gay couples (Washington, D.C. and the Coquile Indian Tribe in Oregon also recognize same-sex marriages). Setting the successes of marriage for gay couples in the six states aside, 12 states prohibit marriage for gay couples through state statute and 29 have altered their state’s constitution to bar gay couples from marriages. That is correct—41 states have laws in place that bar gay couples from marriage and the rights therein.
So, why is marriage for gay couples such an issue? I honestly cannot comprehend it. Some people may take the approach that gay lifestyles are against their religious beliefs, but truthfully, the marriage of someone else has nothing to do with me or anyone other than the couple getting married. Many of the conservative leaning groups that stand against marriage for gay couples often believe that the government should not intervene in matters of family—they think the government is too big. Well with this matter, I agree. The government should not intervene in whom one should love—get out of that couples bedroom. The government should however, assure that the same protections and securities available for straight Americans are available for every American.
Marriage is about committed couples who want to make a lifelong promise to take care of and be responsible for each other. I have been married to my wife for nine years. When I met her I knew I wanted to marry her, I am sure she most likely liked what she heard when I started laying down this game on her; she may disagree with that but I know the truth! I imagine gay and lesbian couples meet and fall in love just as Lori and I did. A phone call leads to a date; which leads to building bonds of love and respect for one another; which leads to creating dreams, goals, and plans. There is not much difference in the “love-process” for me and my wife as there is for most couples (granted, there are arranged marriages, forced marriages, and a wealth of other marriage scenarios to consider but for the most part in America we meet, like, love, and live—and for the most part, in that order). While I know there are over-arching benefits of marriage (from a legal standpoint), marriage really isn’t solely about the tangible benefits of being married, we generally don’t consider ‘can I get health insurance’ as one of the major factors of who we marry; I said generally we don’t. If you believe that the person you love (or loved—assuming you’ve actually loved before) should have every right to be your spouse, what is different about that notion for anyone/everyone else who is a responsible and willing adult (taking in consideration that some states allow the marriage of teens as young as 14 with parental consistent, within this editorial I am solely talking about sound-mind, age-of-majority adults).
The essence of marriage is love but according to the Government Accounting Office from report in 2004 there are over 1,300 benefits, rights, or privileges from which legally recognized married couples can utilize offered from the Federal Government (1,358 to be exact). Sure, love is a great reason to marry—and I personally think it should be the sole reason to marry but with marriage comes responsibility. That responsibility often includes taking care of a spouse when they are sick, leaving various securities for a spouse upon the death of another. Because of laws like the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), many couples will never receive social security protections of a deceased loved one; gay couples encounter a cluster of judicial hurdles if they marry someone from another country-even when the state recognizes their marriage; and lowering the tax burden of a gay couple is out of the question all due to DOMA. These protections and securities, protections and securities that most of us take for granted, are not available to couples who love one another but share the same gender. I still support the notion that marriage is about love but love doesn’t grant the numerous benefits that gay and lesbian couples cannot take part. Straight couples and gay couples want to care for their mates, straight couples and gay couples want to provide the best healthcare for their mates, straight couples and gay couples want their spouses to be free of worry or financial burden if one dies. The same securities and legal protections that marriage gives to me and my wife should be the same securities and legal protections that my gay, lesbian, and transgender friends receive.
I know the arguments, none of which seem rational to me; we all know the argument: “religious believes”, “gays chose that lifestyle”, “they can get gay-to-straight counseling”—the arguments range from bizarre to just plan illogical.
Here is the deal: What does the marriage of anyone have to do with me? In a word---nothing.

-Kenny Rodgers

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