In a time when nothing is more certain than change, the commitment of two people to one another has become difficult and rare. Yet, by its scarcity, the beauty and value of this exchange have only been enhanced. [Robert Sexton]

CAUSE OF THE WEEK!

I am always right, and you should probably just agree with me — but I don’t want everyone to blindly follow me and do what I do.  There are a lot of problems; we should probably split up.

Every week, I will show you something to get excited about!  If you don’t get excited, hang out until next week.  Different strokes, folks.

Even better, if you or someone you know is doing something the rest of us should know about, leave me a note and let me know.  Maybe you’ll get me excited, and I can help.  I would love to help!

*                         *                         *

 

Okay, not every week is going to be something I’m particularly active in or passionate about — but it’s only fair that this first week be something I am wholeheartedly pursuing: the National Marriage Boycott.

Billing themselves as a “youth-led grassroots movement determined to create a world where everyone, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, can live with dignity and security” who ” usher in a national culture of acceptance by pledging not to marry until there is full federal marriage equality,” the NMB has one goal: repeal DOMA.

DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act, may be something you don’t know much about.  Fair enough.  I don’t really need you to know that it became law on September 21, 1996 or that it passed in the Senate by a vote of 85-14 and in the House at 342-67 before President Clinton signed it into law.  Here is the take-home information about DOMA: the federal government defines marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman; no state needs to recognize as a marriage a same-sex relationship considered a marriage in another state (eg, these hippie states letting people who spend their lives together make it as official as any of the rest of us).

If you don’t have an opinion on gay marriage, you haven’t been paying much attention the past few years.  I’ll be more than happy to tell you mine, which you can share, as it’s the rational and reasonable one.

DOMA offends me on several different levels.  First, it offends me as a citizen of a secular society — civil marriage is a civil right.  Then, it offends me as a  libertarian — the government should let us worry about our relationships and personal lives.  And finally, it offends me as a human being — as NMB states, this “lack of legal equality, in addition to lack of societal acceptance, contributes to an increased rate of suicide among youth who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. These youth are up to four times as likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers.”  Paying attention now?

This is important enough that I will say it again, now that I’ve got your undivided attention.  Civil marriage is a civil right.  DOMA denies 1,137 federal rights to same-sex couples, including partner benefits such as Social Security and sponsorship for bi-national couples.  The civil rights struggle has been long and arduous in this country, and I know there are people who don’t agree with me, but I feel that this is the next great frontier on this battle.  This isn’t about the various religious groups, for example, recognizing gay marriage (although if you know me, you know I just. don’t. get. the. big. deal.) — gays are simply asking for their civil right to marry.

The government has better things to worry about than who I marry.  There is a crippling recession that everyone is saying we are putting behind us even as the unemployment rate in parts of the country reach record numbers (beating out their previous record numbers).  There are soldiers abroad who need to come home to their families.  There is the fact that we are too fat to fight for our country (The Week has noted that “48,000 would-be enlistees were rejected solely for being overweight between 2005 and 2009, and about 12,000 soldiers leave the U.S. military prematurely each year because they can’t pass the annual physical fitness test.”)  Even though I embrace classical libertarianism and I think our government should pretty much leave us alone, any of these would probably be better projects to busy themselves with than the determination to keep people who love each other from marrying.

Finally, this argument has never made any sense to me on a very basic level.  It makes no logical sense.  Most of our parents were born in a country where interracial marriage was illegal (check the record book, kids — interracial marriage was officially legal in 1967).  That is 43-ish years of interracial marriage, and it seems silly to anyone in my generation to ask if that’s okay.  Of course it’s okay.  Maybe it’s not for you, but who are you to tell someone it’s not for them?  To me, this is an extension of the same argument.

I know you cannot change people’s minds for them; people have to be open to new ideas and to change.  And I know there are die-hard campaigners against gay marriage.  The thing is, I just don’t know where their ground is to stand on. 

For the most part, heterosexuals in this country are desecrating the old-fashioned idea of marriage all on their own.  People go into marriage knowing that if things get tough, they will use the escape hatch called divorce — the rate is around 50%.  Single parents abound, and Divorce Magazine says only 63% of American children grow up with both biological parents.  That’s sad, folks.  That’s “the lowest figure in the western world.”

I am not saying that gay people would be any better at marriage if they were given a shot, but they really can’t be any worse.

Anyway, all that said, what can you do?  The National Marriage Boycott would be happy to tell you, on their Facebook page or their website.

Me?  I signed the pledge.  I got the ring.  And I wear it every day.  I wear my ring to remind myself, and I wear it to spark conversations with people who are interested.

I dream of a day where people won’t have a debate about gay marriage being legal, the same way there is no debate about heterosexual marriage being legal. 

Do you believe in gay marriage?  Well, it’s not Santa Claus.  It’s marriage.  People are people, civil marriage is a civil right, and we should all work to repeal DOMA.

 

 One advantage of marriage is that, when you fall out of love with him or he falls out of love with you, it keeps you together until you fall in again. 

[Judith Viorst]

 

 

 

And to those who really want to know, I believe in gay marriage more fervently than I believe in heterosexual marriage.

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