an open to letter to friends and family on same sex marriage

Same sex marriage has been in the news quite a bit this summer. Most recently, a federal judge in California ruled Proposition 8 unconstitutional. This was the ballot initiative that banned same sex marriage by amending the California Constitution. Although this court action seems like a victory for same sex marriage, it is one step in a long process to marriage equality for gay people. The matter will most likely be settled by the Supreme Court.

I know that people sit on all sides of the fence in regards to this issue. I know that people I know, people I work with, people I attend church with, and people I chat with daily may not favor marriage equality. I.e. the right of gay people to marry the person they love and to have that marriage recognized by the State. Regardless of your stance, I ask that you spend a few minutes today thinking of the following items. I think these are the key items gay people need to be talking to with friends, family and co-workers.

1. Why marriage, why not civil unions? A common argument is to reserve civil unions for gay people and reserve marriage for opposite sex people. The fundamental issue with this is that you create a class of people who must settle for being second class. If you live and love faithfully with the partner of your choice, you have the right to have that relationship recognized on the same terms as straight couples. If you examine marriage in the USA today, you will find that the government does not recognize your church ceremony. It recognizes the papers that you filed with your local governing body. This is really a civil marriage (union), but is commonly termed “marriage” on all forms and documents. All gay people want is this type of recognition.

2. Is same sex marriage a civil right? A common thought of the anti-same sex marriage crowd is to flat out deny that marriage is a civil right. Look up the definition of civil rights in terms of American governing documents and bodies. Civil rights can be enumerated and can also be implied. Since the IRS, Social Security Administration and other governing agencies base many of their regulations and laws on marriage; this implies that our government has indeed bestowed civil right status to marriage. To deny a subset of our nation these benefits based on marriage, is indeed discriminatory and a violation of civil rights.

3. But gay people can not reproduce. This is such a weak argument that appears quite a bit in recent conservative circles. The answer to this is quite obvious. Marriage does not come with a contract that says that you must produce x offspring in x amount of years. Couples marry that are unable to conceive. Couples marry that chose to not conceive. Marriage is not about conception. It is about love, commitment and a lifelong pledge to be together.

4. Gay marriage violates my civil rights. I’ll inject bit of humor here. Wanda Sykes, the lesbian comedian, once said, something similar to” If you don’t approve of gay marriage, then don’t marry a person of the same sex.” This is such a fallacy thrown up as a tool of fear by anti-same sex marriage advocates. We will not be teaching children about gay sex. Churches will not be forced to marry gay people. (Remember that little thing called “Separate of Church and State” that I mentioned earlier.) Again, this is about civil marriage and nothing more.

5. But the Bible says… OK, this really opens a can of worms. Biblical scholars all pretty much agree that Biblical references to same sex activity is not written in terms of what we know of as loving, committed same sex couples. They are generally portions of stories where people were chastised for inhospitality and speak more of rape and humiliation. Add to this that the tradition of opposite sex marriage is not this 5,000 year plus tradition. Same sex relationships existed for many years and were acceptable. Our “Biblical” view on marriage is more about the definition of marriage over the past 200+ years.

6. Gay people will ruin marriage. I’ll just point you to infidelityfacts.com. Here are some highlights from their research. Does this indicate that same sex marriage is the primary threat to “traditional” marriage?

Percentage of marriages that end in divorce in America: 53%; Percentage of marriages where one or both spouses admit to infidelity, either physical or emotional: 41%; Percentage of men who say they would have an affair if they knew they would never get caught: 74%; Percentage of women who say they would have an affair if they knew they would never get caught: 68%

7. These activist judges are destroying the Constitution and trampling on citizens’ rights! Aren’t these judges really doing what our Constitution asks them to do? We have reduced the civil rights of gay people to a matter of public approval and vote. How sad is it that the validity of minority loving relationships can be voted by the majority and stripped away with a simple vote? This is definitely a matter for the judicial branch to protect the rights of citizens blindly and administer justice.

These are basic facts that I would like all my friends, family and coworkers to think about today. If you are a LGBT blogger or Facebook user, don’t just post relevant articles on same sex marriage. Take a few minutes and compose a post similar to this one to let your friends and family know what marriage means to you and your relationship. It’s your chance to educate people on the truth and the value of your relationship.

I’ll leave by saying that Brett and I are legally marries in the state of Massachusetts. This marriage is recognized by some states but not all states. Ohio is one of those states that does not. Federally, we have no recognition of our marriage. How strange is the fact that a person’s marriage is restricted as you cross a state’s border? If you are a married straight couple, I would ask you to think about how you would feel about moving to another state only to be told your marriage is not recognized.

Thanks for reading this long post.
Tom

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