- They’d like to be able to go somewhere without being beaten up.
- They’d like to be able to go into a store and buy whatever goods and services they want without having to fight in court.
- They’d like to be able to get a job without being discriminated against.
- They’d like to have the same rights as everyone else without having to pay lawyers thousands of dollars to get them.
- They’d like to be able to marry whomever they wish and have the same rights and tax breaks as every other couple.
Which of the above are the “special” kinds of rights that right wingers are always on about? As far as I can tell, white heterosexuals experience these pretty routinely, and people are often arrested when any of these are violated. Hell, a few months ago, none other than Charlie Manson was looking to get hitched, and aside from a lot of us finding the whole thing funny as hell, there were no legal obstacles in place to prevent him and his young squeeze from getting a marriage license. Apparently, Manson gets to keep all of his rights except for the right to legally bear arms and the right to walk around the streets freely, but otherwise, he has more rights than many law-abiding citizens who just happen to be sexually attracted to someone with the same body parts.
This is the United States, isn’t it? Weren’t we founded on the concept that all (people) are created equal. Even many of the slave owners among the Founding Fathers envisioned a day when all (people) would be treated equally. It’s supposed to be one of our major goals as we work toward that “more perfect union” we’re trying to attain.
So, why does it always seem necessary for a significant number of Americans to designate a group of people to be denied the rights that everyone else is entitled to? More importantly, why do so many people try to rationalize or justify it? Denying anyone their basic civil rights is wrong, period. I would say the same thing if we were discriminating against right wing pseudo-Christians.
Someday, this “land of the free” might just figure out that the proper line to draw when it comes to rights is no line at alll, at least among law-abiding citizens. The only actions we should outlaw are those which negatively affect the rights of others and/or cause serious risk to public safety. Instead, we have this mishmash series of laws and rights that have nothing to do with safety and everything to do with what many on the right find “icky.” We spend way too much time worrying about what each of us should or should not have as a right,” while never actually considering what rights people actually need. Seriously, if you want to sit in your own home and smoke ten packs of cigarettes a day, as long as you’re not exposing the rest of society (including your minor children) to it, and you’re paying enough in cigarette taxes to cover the healthcare costs of your ridiculous habit, why is it any of my business?
But I digress.
This article is about the rights of people who don’t happen to have exactly the same sexual proclivities as “everyone else.” First of all, there is no “everyone else.” Unless we are forced to watch, we should all pretty much agree on one thing: It should be no one’s business what I-we-they do. Period. Why shouldn’t people of the same sex get married if they want? What’s in it for anyone to seek to ban the practice? If you marry someone, your decision has zero impact on what others decide to do. Why would the decision of two men or two women to apply for a marriage license have any impact on you? They’re living their life, you’re living yours. If your marriage is so frail that someone else deciding to marry could impact it, it’s you who should rethink, not them.
When it comes to civil marriage in this country (And that is all we’re talking about, after all), we only have a couple of rules. Since civil marriage creates a family bond where none existed before, you can’t already be family. And marriages are limited to one per person. Those rules are fine because they apply to everyone equally. Denying a couple the right to marry because of the sex of one participant is by definition unequal.
Don’t even try to bring love into this debate. Love is irrelevant when it comes to civil marriage. People get married for reasons other than love every day. Two drunks can marry and states recognize it, as long as they’re different sexes. It’s possible for a poor person to marry a rich person for his/her money, and the state doesn’t invalidate the marriage because of a lack of love. Sometimes, two people get married so that one can stay in the country, but the states recognize those marriages, too; it’s the feds who tend to object, albeit on other grounds. It’s not about procreation, either, since millions of people marry and never have children, either by choice or biology, and states don’t invalidate those.
So, why is the sex of one of the participants the dividing line for states when it comes to marriage? Isn’t that rather arbitrary?
It can’t be due to religious objections, of course. No church is required to marry people it doesn’t approve of, even if they are of the opposite sex. No church who objects to homosexuality in principle can ever be required to perform a wedding ceremony against its will. And it’s not about sexuality; many married hetero couples never have sex, and the state doesn’t invalidate their marriage. It’s perfectly legal for two drug addicts of opposite sexes to marry. And like I said, no one stopped Manson from getting a license.
Put simply, opposite-sex couples don’t have to love each other, they don’t have to be morally superior to anyone, they can have ulterior motives for entering into a marriage, and they can be incarcerated murderers. As long as the person they’re marrying is the opposite sex, nothing else matters. So, again I ask; why that line? There is no other possible explanation except bigotry.
It’s not just unfair, it goes against the basic premise of our Constitution. Two couples can be married at the same church on the same day by the same clergyman, but one gets a marriage license and the other is denied because both people are the same sex. And it’s not just about the license; it’s about all sorts of special rights that come with that license, such as lower tax rates, the right to buy into a spouse’s health insurance, the right to make funeral arrangements and medical decisions. Where does our government get the power to approve or disapprove of the choice of partner of two individuals?
Look, folks; when two unrelated and unmarried people decide to live together as a married couple, it’s no one else’s business, least of all the government’s. And the Constitution forbids the government from denying people any civil rights for an arbitrary reason. And it is absolutely arbitrary to say that one of two couples should be denied their basic marriage rights based on the sameness of their genitalia. Actually, scratch that, since eunuchs can get married, too.
As for that other silly argument, “marriage is defined as being between a man and a woman,” well, that may be how some define it, but who cares? The issue is equal rights. When a word is defined one way, and we figure out that definition causes rights to be denied Americans, we change the definition, we don’t say “oh, well.” Black people were once defined as “property.” That definition changed, and we’re all better for it.
If you personally define marriage that way, then don’t marry someone of the same sex. But that’s your personal choice. Rights should never be dependent on the democratic process, and they certainly shouldn’t be dependent upon how someone else defines you. If many of us “define” you as a pious hypocrite, should that be sufficient for denying you basic civil rights?
Now, if you want to argue that states shouldn’t be issuing marriage licenses at all, that’s a rational argument and I’ll entertain it. But as long as states are issuing them, the issue is moot. There there is no rational reason to deny anyone their due civil rights based on our perceptions of their “lifestyle.” Denying anyone rights for any reason other than legitimate public safety concerns goes against the basis upon which this country was built.
If you value what this country stands for, and the Constitution on which we were built, you have to bein favor of equal marriage rights for all people, regardless of what you think of them, personally.