I was reading an article in the NY Times today that was asking New York kids what they thought about the legalization of gay marriage, and it got me to thinking that I haven't talked about this issue once since starting my blog.
I guess the reason I haven't addressed the issue is because I don't see there being much of an argument, since it's a simple civil rights issue. However, the fact that there have been some major changes that have been made in the last few years is worth taking note of.
First off, I must say that after reading the article I'm incredibly heartened by the fact that [it seems] as we move forward generations, we're exposed to more and more, and therefore are more open to difference and change, and kids actually embrace said change. Although, I think I would be remiss if I did not mention that kids in New York City are obviously going to be exposed to a lot more, and be much more open than kids anywhere else in the United States. That being said, I think the trend is universal, even if it's to a lesser degree.
Alright, onto the actual discussion of gay marriage, gay marriage vs. civil unions, DOD, anti-gay marriage amendment to the constitution, etc.
For me - and I will state "for me" from the outset, because I suppose I have a different perspective than a lot of people, because I have so many gay friends - the issue of gay marriage is a simple one. Marriage began as a religious ceremony, where two people pledged their unity before whatever god it was that they worshiped. The ceremony was, at that time, not recognized by "the state", because there was no state to recognize it; and even if there was, there was nothing especially important to recognize. So, on through the ages, marriage continued to be defined as a religious institution. However, as soon as "the state" began to recognize marriage, and provide rights for people based therein, it ceased to be a purely religious ceremony, and became a civil ceremony, and a civil union. So, when people don't support "gay marriage", but support civil unions, they're actually supporting gay marriage, because marriage, outside of a religious context, is actually just a civil union with a different name. Now, that doesn't mean that I support civil unions over marriage, because there is an important distinction that cannot be overlooked, and that the obvious legal ramifications of upholding a law that is creating a "separate but equal" situation.
Why do you think the anti-gay marriage amendment has not had more traction in congress, even when President Bush supported it, and he had a Republican senate and Republican house? The reason is that politicians know that a law like this would never survive scrutiny before the Supreme Court, because even conservative justices like Scalia and Thomas could not overlook the fact that this is a blatantly discriminatory policy. And by bringing the argument before the court, and losing on discriminatory grounds, the anti-gay marriage side would essentially be codifying the national right for gay couples to marry. This, in fact, will most likely end up being how gay marriage will become legal nationally; and then there may be a law that will follow.
I try to understand the other side's perspective on this issue, as I think that a lot of people have fear about what they are not exposed to, but while individuals - or even religious institutions - may not support the right of gay couples to wed, there is really no legal basis for this argument, and therefore I'm still at a loss for how states continue to uphold open discrimination. The anti-gay marriage advocates should relish this time, however, because the days of discriminating against gay couples who wish to marry are numbered; CT, IA, NH, VT, NY and the District have set the tone, and the rest of the states will start falling in line.