Marriage is a civil right that under the Constitution cannot be denied to any citizen based on race, religion, gender or sexuality.
America prides itself on equality before the law. Earlier this year, the Supreme Court upheld the rights of the Westboro Baptist Church to continue their hate–mongering protests at soldiers’ funerals.
Yet this past week, a committee for the Indiana State Senate voted to hear the House-approved constitutional amendment that would ban civil unions as well as gay marriage. This is despite polls that show most Hoosiers don’t approve.
Some argue that marriage is only a social institution—not a right. The Alliance Defense Fund argues that marriage is fundamentally about children. Everything else that comes with marriage is second to protecting “the only union that can naturally produce children.”
But currently, children are born to unmarried parents much more often. Foster homes are overflowing. The divorce rate is off the charts. “Til death do us part” doesn’t have the same weight it used to.
We’re realizing that biological parents may not be quite the necessity we thought. Studies conducted by the U.S. government indicate adopted children spend more time with their parents on average than biological children.
Most importantly, no matter how we dress it up marriage has never been solely about children. The vows are lifted straight from Christian texts—The Book of Common Prayer, for most Protestants. These promises don’t mention children at all.
The real issue at stake is all that other stuff that married couples get, the stuff that the Anti-defamation League dismisses. Gay couples want the power of attorney for a compromised partner. They want legal rights to the children that they have raised with their loved one. They want the right to visit their families in the hospital. At the crux of this, they want recognition from society. Their relationships are just as valid as any straight married couple’s.
I want to believe that religion doesn’t enter into this issue. People are welcome to their own beliefs—another constitutional right. And because we all are allowed to keep our own faith, it is illegal to enforce it on others. The hypocrisy of this is so blatant it almost doesn’t bear mentioning—almost.
Half of all marriages end in divorce. Non-Christians are married in churches every day. Just-for-fun-Vegas-marriages fill our comedies and celebrity magazines. Where are the protestors? Where are the lobbyists for an anti-divorce amendment? Where are the outraged Pastors calling for oxen and donkey to stop yoking themselves together? Sadly, I’m forced to conclude that it’s because gay couples “look different”.
Other arguments I’ve heard say the government can’t afford to distribute the tax benefits to gay couples that we grant to married partners. Since when do we evaluate rights on their price tag? The First Amendment allows the Ku Klux Klan to meet—as long as it isn’t connected to crimes. The Fifth Amendment forces police to use due process. How much money, time and lives could be saved by ignoring these?
As I’m sure you’ll agree, that’s not the point. Rights are about principle. Civilians deserve to be tried before a jury of peers. Gay couples deserve to marry and enjoy the legal protection that straight couples already have.
Marriage is not an institution. It’s not about protecting biologically valid couples. It is a social recognition of commitment. Our government incentivizes stable homes because they help children—regardless of biological connections or genders of the parents.
And, on a practical note, industries aren’t sure they can encourage intelligent young people to come here if we make it illegal to raise their families.
Quite honestly, I’m disappointed that this is even a debate.