R-71: ‘Everything but marriage’ not enough
October 15, 2009
Filed under Columnists
Gay American citizens are being denied basic rights to which they are constitutionally guaranteed, all because their sexual orientation denies them an official marriage.
Their “unions” are not provided the same rights afforded to straight couples and they are bogged down in a debate grounded in prehistoric notions of what it is to be homosexual, what it is to participate in a marriage.
Senate bill 5688, signed by Washington governor Christine Gregoire in May 2009, offered an opportunity for gay couples to receive benefits afforded by married couples, without the official title of marriage being applied to their unions.
However, even this concession in the advancement of gay rights was miraculously met with resistance. Anti-gay activists rallied enough support to put the bill to a popular vote, now referred to as Referendum-71.
Reasons to support R-71 can be seen in an article by fellow Pioneer columnist James Sledd, but R-71 is not enough to secure the equality our country needs, the equality or constitution demands.
Separation of church and state: It is a widely known American tenet, recited in history classes from fourth grade onward. This concept is one of the fundamental divisions that allows democracy to exist in our nation.
Gay marriage, for reasons borne out of misunderstanding or downright bigotry, somehow finds itself ignored in the context of this discussion.
There are churches, priests, judges and pastors who are all more than willing to wed a gay couple. Done. If churches have made decided that they can support gay marriage and respect it for its own worth, then all that is standing in the way of gay marriage is the state.
This flies in the face of every argument presented by anti-gay marriage proponents. They claim that, in allowing gay men and women to marry, we will somehow undermine the structure of marriage itself. I concede that, yes, marriage has been traditionally between man and woman. However, we now live in an advanced society where concepts of homosexuality have radically shifted.
“Tradition” does not justify a discriminatory practice that has always been an affront to these individuals, who, in our nation’s history, have had to hide their sexuality from others and conform to a society that did not want to understand them.
Now, we have the benefit of living in country where, at least partially, people have come to understand homosexuals and respect them as equals in society. It is time for this equality to exist as a legislative fact, and until gay marriage is legalized completely on a nationwide level, this will not be the case.
California is perhaps the best example of the venomous hatred that exists in the anti-gay community. The fact that minority rights must continually subject themselves to a bigoted majority vote is something our founding fathers did not intend for our legislative structure. Proposition 8, and now R-71, are each examples of a lose-lose situation for gay couples who just want the same rights as their straight counterparts.
Marriage is a not sacred thing for its religious tradition or for its traditionally man-woman format. Rather, marriage is sacred for what it represents: a deep personal commitment between two people that should not lightly be severed or broken.
Gay couples throughout the country share these connections. They have deeply personal relationships, they are every bit as devoted and loving as straight couples, sometimes more so. These relationships exist, yet people will still not allow them to be called what they are, marriage, in its truest form. This is something to which we are all entitled.