This column is presented as it was published in The Leaf-Chronicle, Clarksville TN, July 25, 2004. I’m reposting this here for the benefit of all of my “Piccolo” readers. Enjoy!

The Case for Equal Rights

The gay marriage debate has galvanized liberals and conservatives alike. All the while, this debate has commenced without the perspective of those who are most affected by it. The reality is that they’re talking about me. Many gays and lesbians ride out the debate in silence, for fear that they might be “outed,” or with a glimmer of hope that common sense will reign.

It’s time for me to break that silence.

I’ve been a passionate Christian for over 15 years, and my faith has been a critical part of my life. It’s unfortunate that so many are quick to stamp my ticket to hell just because I’m gay. Since politics and religion are strange bedfellows, I’ll (reluctantly) leave the religious element aside. I’ve heard dozens of different arguments against gay marriage or civil unions and I’d like to address the most common ones here.

“Activist judges have hijacked the legislative process to allow gay marriage.” False. Just how activist are these judges in question? According to Lambda Legal, the “activist judges” behind recent legal victories for gay people are often quite conservative. In fact, conservative Republicans appointed the two deciding judges in the Massachusetts marriage case. Justice Anthony Kennedy, the U.S. Supreme Court Justice who wrote last summer’s landmark gay rights ruling, was a Reagan appointee.

“Gay marriage threatens the institution of marriage.” False. Just once I’d like for someone to display clear, compelling evidence that a gay couple’s committed, monogamous, loving, and devoted relationship is in any way a threat to anyone’s marriage. To be blunt, heterosexual marriage is its own worst enemy with a 60% divorce rate and rampant adultery.

“Marriage has always been an institution that was exclusive between one man and one woman.” False. Multiple wives and concubines were common in cultures throughout history, even in Biblical times. Further, women were long considered to be the property of their fathers or husbands and any marriage was little more than a business agreement between parents. People married whom they were told to marry. I’d like to see that implemented today.

“Allowing gay marriage would be granting special rights.” False. How special is the right to inheritance, adoption, or the ability to file joint taxes? The question is whether two people in a same-sex relationship can commit their lives together and have their commitment recognized by the state and federal government. At last count, there are 1049 individual rights that are given to heterosexual marriages by default. Those rights are granted whether the couple is married in a formal church wedding or in a seedy wedding chapel in Las Vegas.

“To allow gay marriage would cause a sliding scale toward debauchery, including the normalization of bestiality, incest, and pedophilia.” False. Dobson. Santorum. Scalia. The names of those who spout this popular slippery slope argument span the gamut of political and religious ideology. If anyone can possibly present a valid argument how my committed, monogamous relationship with my wonderful partner of almost three years might lead to sex with my cats I’d be interested in reading it.

“The courts will force churches to recognize gay marriage.” False. If this were true then the Catholic Church would have been ordered long ago to recognize second (and subsequent) marriages of its parishioners. The first amendment is clear in that Congress will not impose any religious tradition or prohibit the free exercise thereof. There’s not an “activist judge” in this country that would ever trample on this most revered amendment.

“The homosexual lifestyle is a chosen lifestyle.” False. Even U.S. Senator Bill Frist understands this. As quoted by The Leaf-Chronicle on Monday, July 19, 2004, “homosexuality is likely a complex amalgam between genetic and environmental influences.” Every major accredited psychological and medical organization, including the APA and the AMA, agrees with the Senate’s only resident physician.

Call it marriage, call it civil union, or call it a gay ol’ time. As emotional and divisive as this issue has been, I believe that the time has come for all of us to educate ourselves, cut through the finger waving, and research the facts. Let the debate continue until my partner and I can join gay couples across the country as we say those two simple words that so many others take for granted. “I do.”

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