Opinion: Marriage equality has to be legal

Marriage equality should be legal in the United States.

Sorry, let me correct myself.

As the country that promotes “liberty and justice for all,” as the country that is the so-called leader of the free world, marriage equality has to be legal.

Currently, the Defense of Marriage Act, a.k.a. DOMA, is under review by the Supreme Court.  DOMA is a federal law that only recognizes opposite sex marriages as valid and restricts federal marriage benefits to heterosexual couples. While nine states have legalized same-sex marriage, the law doesn’t recognize inter-state homosexual marriages.

It’s hard to determine what might evolve from the Supreme Court case right now.  While the Supreme Court could repeal same-sex bans like DOMA and Proposition 8 it could also hold up the laws, allowing states to ban same-sex marriage. They may take a middle ground in which Proposition 8 and DOMA are ruled unconstitutional, but there is no verdict on same-sex marriage bans in general.

Courtesy of Guillaume Paumier/Flickr

Courtesy of Guillaume Paumier/Flickr

Public opinion is changing fairly quickly and the LGBT community has proven itself a well-organized and influential political force. Public approval for marriage equality has even increased drastically to 53 percent since the early 2000s. Even in the rap industry, which has been notoriously homophobic, there has been growing acceptance. Rising rap superstar Macklemore showed his support for marriage equality with his song “Same Love” and the artist Frank Ocean even came out with the release of his album Orange.

 

Many opponents of marriage equality reference the Bible or God. They claim homosexuality is a sin. Even worse, the Westboro Baptist church blamed the bombings on Patriot’s Day on gay marriage.  The organization tweeted, “God sent the bombs in fury over fag marriage!” It’s disgusting what hate and ignorance produces in people. As a country, we should shut down this hate. From a Christian standpoint, God loves and accepts everybody.

That’s kind of the whole Christian message.

If various religions don’t want to accept the LGBT community or marry them in their churches, temples, and mosques it’s ignorant and offensive yet they also have a right to do what they want. However, if the federal government is going to protect same-sex marriage bans and enforce them, then we have a problem. While religions may find homosexuality unnatural, the secular world should not. We live in a secular country, not a theocracy, so no religious principles or values should be foist upon anyone, especially when they restrict basic human rights.

I want to make it clear that I am not bashing religion. I think having some form of spirituality is vital to the human experience. Religious groups do and have done a lot of good work for the people in our country and all over the world. However discrimination and denying human rights should not be the work of any god.

Courtesy of Karen Eliot/Flickr

Courtesy of Karen Eliot/Flickr

As a “free” country the United States has had a slew of issues regarding human rights. Nearly all racial and ethnic minority groups have experienced some form of discrimination over our history, whether it is the Black Civil Rights Movement, women’s suffrage and rights, Japanese internment camps, anti-Semitism or even the discrimination against Irish and Italian immigrants. All these groups possessed something “different” about them, something that they had no control over. No one decides to be black, female, or Asian, and while you can convert, no one chooses to be raised in a Jewish home.

Similarly, no one, absolutely no one, can choose what his or her sexual orientation is. It’s true that the LGBT community is different in terms of sexual orientation from the heterosexual population. However, the United States should recognize that the LGBT community does have a right to marry, a right to love despite being different. How many times does our country have to deny human rights before we recognize these patterns and stop?

Courtesy of Guillaume Paumier/Flickr

Courtesy of Guillaume Paumier/Flickr

Same-sex marriage bans like DOMA promote the message that homosexuality is wrong and should be discouraged. DOMA denies not only the right to marry, but also the various benefits that come with it. It figuratively says to the LGBT community that they do not deserve the same quality of life that opposite-sex couples do. When the federal government sends out that message, it is hardly a surprise that so many gay teens tragically take their own lives. It’s no surprise that even some of the most intelligent people today are still homophobic.

Even BC, which is in my opinion one of the most amazing and accepting communities, still gets voted one of the most homophobic schools in the country. It's embarrassing as a school, and even more so as a country, to think that we are pushing people to the point of suicide due to a lack of acceptance and ignorance.

As a country the United States has to accept that love is love, no matter who it is between. DOMA and all same-sex marriage bans need to be declared unconstitutional so that our country stops denying the human right to love. Otherwise the federal government endorses a homophobic society.

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Tim Coogan