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Same Sex Marriage

Same Sex Marriage

Editor’s Note: This article provides a wealth of information that could be helpful when deciding where you stand on the issue of same-sex marriages.

I was born in the mid-seventies. I have never known an era of lawful segregation, back-alley abortions or Japanese internment camps. Throughout my lifetime, American women have always had the right to vote. Slavery has been illegal since way before I was born and the days of McCarthy died before the Cold War ended. But alas, with all the progress this nation has made, discrimination lives on. San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom is working diligently to end one form of discrimination by issuing marriage licenses for same sex couples.

Why Did it Happen Now?

It all began February 12, 2004, when Mayor Newsom attended President Bush’s State of the Union Address and had listened intently as our Commander in Chief declared his intent to work towards a constitutional amendment making same-sex marriage illegal. How ironic it is that so many of the United States Constitution’s amendments were created to eliminate discrimination or unjust practices, yet Bush wants to amend the Constitution to allow for discrimination of gays and lesbians.

Following the State of the Union, Newsom reportedly picked up the phone, inspired to put an end to this particular form of discrimination. The newly anointed mayor got the ball rolling by issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in San Francisco. He stated that the California Constitution takes a clear stand on discrimination – it is not allowed. The effect that Mayor Newsom’s actions have had on the country are echoing loudly through daily newscasts.

George Bush continually speaks out against same-sex marriage, Arnold Schwarzenegger has ordered California Attorney General, Bill Lockyer, to fight it, and right-wing groups have put pressure on judges to halt it.

As the nation knows, Bush is not warmly welcome in the City by the Bay, which is why he NEVER visits. Bill Lockyer stated that the governator has no jurisdiction over him and that he best think twice before ordering our beloved attorney general, an elected official, to act on his behalf. As for the right-wing groups? Thus far, their courtroom appeals have not panned out. San Francisco Judge Quidachay made it clear that in a case of Equal Rights verses Voter Rights, Equal Rights hold more importance. This was in response to Proposition 22, which California voters passed a couple of years ago to insure that marriage remained between a man and a woman.

So, here we are, an angry president, a governor disrespected, the far-right receiving a loud and clear message that their morality is immoral in San Francisco, and Gavin Newsom being hailed the new prince of the civil rights resurrection. Wow!

As of this writing, over 3,000 same sex couples have tied the knot at San Francisco’s City Hall. Pyllis Lyon and Del Martin, a well-known San Francisco lesbian activist couple that have been together for 51 years, kicked off the revolution. Since then, couples from 37 states and 22 countries have descended on San Francisco to celebrate and affirm their love and union in the same way that heterosexual couples have been doing it for years – through marriage!

Does the Nation Care?

Why is this so momentous? Why have I, a heterosexual female, been so overjoyed since gay and lesbian couples have been getting legally married in San Francisco? Easy. The nation should – and does – care. The United States is a country that values freedom, not oppression. Not giving gays and lesbians the same rights as heterosexuals is oppressive. We have seen marginalizing societal binds stripped away throughout our history, and I watch excitedly as San Francisco leads the way in conquering this new frontier. Equal rights for ALL Americans? The concept does not strike me as outlandish.

This momentous time in history is far more provocative than the dot-com bust or the 1989 earthquake, two other times in recent history when San Francisco has made international news. Here we are, leading the nation (with our friends in Massachusetts!) in progress. The good kind of progress that teaches future generations love, acceptance, and the beauty in diversity that is our country. Sadly, many Americans are strongly against same-sex marriage. The two groups who are challenging the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples in the courts are not San Francisco-based groups. The right wing is far outnumbered in San Francisco, where equality and progressive values reign supreme.

The Main Arguments Against Same-Sex Marriage with Rebuttals (No pun intended)
The following are some popular arguments against same-sex marriage, with an explanation of why they make little sense in today’s United States.

(1) “We have to protect marriage.”

This anti-equal rights argument is quite possibly the least logical. In order to “protect” something, there has to be a real or perceived “threat” to what it is we are protecting. Maybe one day someone can explain how marriage is threatened by allowing gay men and lesbians to get married. Are heterosexual marriage licenses going to be revoked? No. Are squads of angry rainbow-wearing, sword-yielding same-sex couples going to march on Washington and demand that heterosexual couples be denied the right to marry? Not in this lifetime. Remind me what we’re protecting marriage from.

(2) “If we open marriage to gays and lesbians, why not polygamists – shouldn’t they have equal rights too?”

I had to think about this one for a while. If I’m touting equal rights for gays and lesbians, would I be a hypocrite to not support legal polygamy (having more than one wife or husband)? I did some research into polygamy and found that in present times, the majority of practicing polygamists in the USA are Mormon fundamentalists.

Mormons and the State of Utah have spoken out against polygamy, but some fundamentalists continue to practice it. I also discovered that in the majority of polygamous relationships there is one man and more than one women. I am certainly not speaking for all polygamists and never would – certainly some are not Mormon nor fundamentalist. Alas, the polygamy system in existence with fundamentalist Mormon groups often results in women and children being the victims of abuse and poverty. This is a FAR cry from two consenting adults, heterosexual or queer, declaring their love and intent to be partners for life.

(3) “The Bible says it’s wrong.”

Yes, it does. It also says that children who disobey their parents should be put to death and that it is an insult to God to eat pork. If we all followed that, there would be a lot less children and many more pigs on this planet.

My understanding of the Biblical teachings is that it is not for man to judge others, but for God to judge us. In other words, my sign would read, “God probably doesn’t like people who walk around with signs that say God hates fags.” The Bible preaches love, not hate. People who use the scriptures to support hate and prejudice need not answer to me – they can answer to God.

Incidentally, we live in a country that honors freedom of religion. Not all Americans answer to the Judeo-Christian God. Separation of Church and State should not be a radical concept in 2004.

(4) “Marriage is for procreation, therefore it should only be between a man and a woman, as same-sex couples can’t have kids.”

The whole ‘same-sex couples with kids’ article will have to come another time, but as for the procreation thing, many heterosexual couples get married and choose not to have kids. Others are unable to procreate. Some get married well past procreation years. As soon as these practices are halted and only couples that have and are procreating are allowed to be married, this argument fails.

Additionally, many people have children with partners they have no intention of marrying. What about teen pregnancies? These children are frequently put up for adoption. Perhaps some of the energy being spent on preventing same-sex marriages should be placed on helping others in more dire circumstances.

(5) “God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.”

My good friend Steve, who is gay AND Christian, is convinced that God created him. My friend Eve, a heterosexual female, is an atheist and does not believe that God created her. In this case, God created Steve, not Eve. I have yet to consult with my friend Adam, but he is away on vacation.

(6) “If we allow same-sex marriages, we might as well let people marry their pets.”

Same-sex gay marriages are meant to take place between two consenting adults/parties. It is impossble to demonstrate that a pet is a consenting party, regardless of how much your dog loves you. I will not be addressing Creationism verses Evolution in this article.

Alas, none of the anti-equal rights arguments stand up particularly well to logic. I know 17 same-sex couples that have become newlyweds over the past couple of weeks. Their love, commitment and joy are as beautiful and as legitimate as any other couple’s same experience. This step merely recognizes that in the eyes of the law.

Reasons and Motivations

It is difficult to examine the reasons and motivations behind the anti-gay marriage protests with full scientific scrutiny. However, there is one issue to consider that is part of being human. That is, people fear what they don’t understand. It is a shame that the average American has yet to come to this understanding of human nature. It is a large part of discrimination in many areas beyond the gay marriage issue.

Of course, it makes sense for the church to shift attention from tens of thousands of children being abused by priests to the issue of gay marriage. Perhaps that is an article for another day.

Conclusion

I visited City Hall last weekend to witness, firsthand, these acts of “Civil Disobedience.” The line of soon-to-be newlyweds, children and witnesses wrapped around three streets. My friend and I took our place on the opposite side of City Hall, where couples exit, marriage license in hand, smiles on face. Across the street were the protestors. I counted them – 12. Not 120, not 1,200. 12. Twelve protestors. They had signs that preached messages of hate, but they were well behaved and exercising their constitutional rights by being there.

I was in a crowd of several hundred like-minded people. Every time a newly married couple emerged, the throngs of well wishers erupted in applause and cheers. For the third time in my life, I cried tears of happiness. I looked at the protestors across Van Ness Avenue and realized that they were separated from me by traffic, a median, asphalt, morals and time. I knew that I was standing in the present, looking across weekend traffic at an oppressive past. I turned my head back to the doors of City Hall as a joyous lesbian couple and their two children – a family – emerged. The midday sun hit my eyes and I realized just how bright the future is.

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