Is America Ready for Same-Sex Marriage?
Marriage Equality or Traditional Marriage?
Is America Ready for Same-Sex Marriage?
As most of the country is well aware the Supreme Court of the United States has taken up a case from the State of Michigan in which they will be deciding on the constitutionality of same sex marriage. The two questions that will be addressed and the court will ultimately answer are: one, does the fourteenth amendment require a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex and two does the fourteenth amendment require a state to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out of state? There is no doubt that the Supreme court will ultimately decide on the legality of same-sex marriage and decide for the entire country whether it is a right and whether the remaining states will have to recognize it or not.
What I believe to be one of the greatest controversies that has hit the United States since the Roe v Wade decision has come down to the wire and will be decided by the end of June this year. Opponents and supporters of same sex marriage have been at it for the past decade with rallies, prayer groups and of course plenty of confrontations. In 2004, just eleven years ago did the first state (Massachusetts) legalize same-sex marriage. Now only a handful of states still have their bans in place. Many people have unique and different opinions on this issue, but it certainly will only grow in the coming weeks and months as the decision looms. Being raised in a Christian household, I do believe that marriage is between a man and a woman but there seems to be a dwindling down of my kind. Being a twenty two year old college student I am probably one of the few who are not in favor of it (as most polls suggest that a strong majority of millennials support same-sex marriage). However in writing this article I am by no means suggesting or trying to change anyone’s opinions, but rather trying to show that this is a decisive issue and that those who don’t support it are by no means bigoted, hateful or “anti-gay” as many point to that. There are people of good will and honesty on both sides of the argument.
As this case approaches and many on both sides are getting prepared and ramped up, I have found that for some this is quite an emotional, and personal issue for them. For others it is a religious argument that says you can’t redefine the idea of marriage. Whichever side you are on we can all still be respectful and show dignity and respect toward each other. Over the past few years I have met a few homosexuals who I now openly and unashamedly call good friends. They are people, just like any anybody else, that breathe oxygen, have to consume food and water to survive, and work as hard as the rest of society does. I may not support the idea of gay marriage or even agree with the lifestyle, but I do support them as people, who are loved by God, as we are all and deserve respect. Throughout my life growing up my parents have always raised me to love and respect one another, including those who may be of a different color, religion or even ethnicity. I am proud to have the parents that I have and been raised the way I have been, because I have friends from all different corners of the world and I wouldn’t change it for a minute. As God calls us to, “love one another,” I always remember those words. One aspect of my life that has been very rewarding and enriching is that my gay friends in particular know where I stand on this issue and the next day they were still my friends, and I’m thankful to say that nothing changed. I have lost some friends over my position and I have had people call me bigoted or a hater and that I will never go far in my life or that I should just drop dead. It’s hard to image someone telling me that but even in the face of adversity and disgust you have to remember who you are and more importantly who you serve, as my mother would always say to me as I left for work, school or just going out with my friends. My hope and prayer going into the coming months and after is that regardless of how the court rules, everyone from all spectrums of the world can get along and co-exist, hopefully in a peaceful and mindful setting.
So who is on the right side of history? “If you don’t support same-sex marriage then you’re on the wrong side of history and your dwelling in the past.” That’s one of the most common and frequently heard arguments over the past ten years. Even on the news many who are in favor of same-sex marriage talk about and describe the momentum of the issue. In the world today it’s hard to see how anyone can be opposed to it. More countries worldwide continue to either legalize it or at least consider it, politicians as well as social actors come out in favor of it, and even some religions are now in favor of it. “So what’s the problem with the rest of us,” as I have been asked. Well I wouldn’t say that we necessarily have a problem, but rather a conviction. Christianity has taught that marriage was created by God, instituted between one man and one woman and that nothing else can be given that title. Still who cares; I mean people can change so why can’t Christians just accept it? Well one aspect that I want to say before I continue is that there are millions of people worldwide, let alone throughout this country that “claim” to be loving, careful, wonderful Christians, but yet are the farthest from the Gospel truth. Many say they go to church every Sunday, read the bible morning and night, or pray before they go to bed. While those are all wonderful things, and certainly very encourage-able, they don’t make you a Christian. The problem is that anyone can call themselves a Christian, but it’s only a few that actually live it daily through their lives. As the saying goes, “anybody can talk the talk, but you have to walk the walk.” The problem that I have noticed and certainly heard of is that when you have someone who calls themselves a Christian but yet goes around harassing or cussing out a homosexual then that automatically designates Christians as mean-filled, demeaning people who use the church and the bible as their “sword” to be able to attack and then defend themselves. A true Christian certainly should know that we all treat everyone with dignity and respect. A common saying, “love the sinner, hate the sin,” may be the best way to try and explain to those who may not fathom the idea of a Christian who has gay friends but doesn’t accept the lifestyle or the idea of same-sex marriage.
As a Christian I call those who believe themselves to be Christians to remember that we are all in this together and that the coming years will certainly have its challenges but also its victories, but overall we have to remember that we need to approach everyone with open arms and welcome them no matter how they act, who they love or what they look like. So another issue that I would like to try and bring to the table is the church. Many churches or church members may seem to give the ‘dirty eye’ to open homosexuals and that will only deter and prevent them from coming back or feeling welcomed. I have met and talked to many people throughout my life, gay and straight who at some point in their life either visited or went to a church service in which someone may have made them feel unwelcomed or uncomfortable. As we begin to think about it, we need to ask ourselves how would Jesus have acted toward those who may be hesitant to attend a service? Well he would certainly welcome them--as we all should.
Is it time for change?
I now turn my attention toward the legality as well as the arguments and if there are any rational reasons as to the opposition of same-sex marriage and what if any could be offered? Currently right now only fifteen states still have their bans on same sex marriage in place, but each state has a challenge to the ban, as well as the supreme court on the verge of ruling on the legality of those bans and as to whether they can stand or need to be struck down. So the question now remains, is America ready for Same-sex marriage? It would seem likely as almost 70% of the population lives in a state with same-sex marriage, and many politicians and ordinary people are either accepting it or not caring enough to oppose it. So how now do we respond or react to it?
Conservatives and evangelicals continue to stress that the traditional family is the foundation for society. Many, however, critize that point by suggesting that families come in all shapes and sizes, and certainly that is a very true statement. You now see single parents raising children, couples adopting children, as well as gay couples raising kids. So how then can you oppose it? Marriage and family seem to go hand in hand. Well that is true, but then certainly enough it brings into the question of whether children deserve a mother and father? Do they have a right to that or is that just some argument that opponents are using? Another reason to add is that if you don’t like the idea of gay marriage then don’t marry a homosexual. They’re not undermining your marriage, so why should you dictate to them whether they can get married or not? In light of these questions it’s extremely challenging for some to respond and to be able to respond with a clear and certainly efficient answer. But how I would respond is to ask how then would three or seven or even ten people being called a marriage undermine yours? In many parts of Africa polygamy (which is the custom or practice of having more than one wife or husband at a time) is legalized and allowed. So then should we not engage and practice it since other parts of the world have accepted it as being right, just and fair? I don’t ask this question to undermine anyone’s argument or opinion but rather give a new insight for those who support such practices as to how we could or should respond in light of these arguments possibly being brought up in the near future. For many in this world, if same-sex marriage is to be the law of the land, then it gives hope to many who are engaging in other forms or practices that we may not be fully accepting of but yet they want theirs to be recognized as a marriage.
The Supreme Court justice Ruth Ginsburg recently issued a statement in which she said, “Americans are ready for same-sex marriage.” Our current president Barack Obama has also called for it to be legally recognized in every state. Many say that homosexuals deserve the same rights as their straight counterparts. Certainly it looks as if marriage could be considered a “right” rather than a privilege, and for many that is what they firmly believe. Some of us however see it as a privilege, in which it is a blessing to be able to get married. Regardless the result will have a huge impact on the country and the world.
Where do we go from here?
One last question that I want to ask and address is probably the most compelling and interesting question for some including myself. Conservatives are hugely depending on the idea that if two men or two women can be “married” then why can’t other relationships such as polygamy or beastiality not be legalized or recognized as a marriage? I have asked a few people this question hoping to find an answer but to my shock and surprise I have gotten no response. I ask this question in particular because I fear for what the country could be like 30 or even 40 years from now. I recently had a professor in one of my classes compare same-sex marriage in the 1950’s and 60’s to now. He addressed the change in attitudes of how just 40 years ago barely a word was even spoken about the idea and if it was brought up it was quickly and quietly shot down. So now as times have changed, and more people, states and countries accept same-sex marriage where now do we go from here? Right now most polls show a majority against polygamy, however over time that could very much change and the majority could be supporting it. Do we then accept it because everyone else does or because a majority of countries in the world engage or practice it? As I close I want to stress the importance of having an opinion and that what I have written here should not force you to give up your belief but rather engage in what will most likely be a historic moment for the country in the coming months, regardless of how the end turns out. But no matter what happens one thing is for certain; I will still have gay friends that I will love, cherish and treat with the upmost dignity and respect. If you are reading this then I want to personally thank you for taking time to listen to my position and discussions, even if you don’t agree with me. “One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say,” –Bryant H. McGill