Pro-Gay? ...More Like Pro-EqualityEditorial : Allowing homosexuals to marry is simply promoting equal rights. A Republican's point of view.
By: Brandon Less, Sibley Scribe
Let me be straight with you. I support gay marriage.
Through the Declaration of Independence, our Founding Fathers established the principle of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Yet it seems that lesbian and gay citizens are not always allowed to live according to those principles. Whether it is meant or not, sexual minorities have been outsiders to the American community for both religious and political reasons. They sit outside, looking at families that they still are not fully allowed to form. Why can’t they have them you might ask? Becasuse a group of political leaders and their supporters deem it incorrect for them to be wed. But why do these leaders rule their lives? Why do they prohibit them from enjoying the same liberties as heterosexuals? Allowing same-sex marriage in Minnesota and throughout our country will allow gay Americans to live their lives as freely as heterosexual Americans.
Our country was built on the foundation of equal rights under the law for all citizens. What some conservatives seem to stand for on this issue amounts to treating homosexual citizens like second-class citizens. Is there just something different about sexual minorities that requires restriction? Oh I forgot...they are scary monsters, sent to destroy America. Yes that is it. Seriously, lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans-gender (LGBT) citizens deserve the same rights as everyone else. If you do not believe in gay rights or equality, it is certainly your right. But why can’t two loving men or women get married, have health insurance, hospital visitations, tax deductions and many other rights for their partners, the same as straight people have?
A recent video showed Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney talking to Bob Garon, a gay veteran who was recently married to his husband in New Hampshire, about possible recognition of same-sex marriage. Bob Garon had put himself in danger for his country, yet cannot receive the same rights that any straight U.S. citizen could. Garon asks Romney if he supports gay marriage and Romney responds with “No, the definition of marriage is between a man and a woman.” Then Garon goes on to ask about whether the same-sex spouse of a veteran would be entitled to any burial benefits or medical benefits or anything that the serviceman had earned as a result of devoting his time and effort (and in some cases, his life) to his country. Romney panics, and responds, “I believe marriage is between a man and a woman.”
Not very creative. And not very thoughtful.
It seems that Romney and his fellow Republicans are at a loss for words when it comes to a more thorough response, or one that gets down to their real objections to same-sex marriage. Clearly, they are afraid to admit the “truth” as they see it. Here are some possible truths (or fears) that I worked feverishly to come up with:
1.If gays are allowed to marry then suddenly conservatives / Republicans themselves will
turn gay. (I credit that insight to Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, from his outstanding letter to
the Maryland Governor.)
2.Conservatives are afraid that sexual minorities will take over the world.
3.Conservatives do not like change, especially when it conflicts with their religious beliefs.
While I have some suspicions about numbers one and two, based on a few interactions with both younger and older Republicans, I am a bit more certain about number three, the fear of change. Republicans often do stand for holding the country to its traditions. And traditional marriage indeed long has been between a man and woman. But, times have changed and we’ve evolved. And not just in the sense that, in 2012, same-sex marriage is accepted in some European countries and a number of U.S. states. Societies evolve in many important ways and do so for the better. They even evolve on the role that relgion plays in people’s lives. For example, the Bible commands, “If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town. They shall say to the elders, ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a profligate and a drunkard.’ Then all the men of his town shall stone him to death” (Deuteronomy 21:18-21).
If we actually followed that, I--and maybe more than a few of my teenage friends--would have been dead ten years ago.
Our own American society has certainly changed. It also used to be that based partly on supposedly Biblically-based views, African Americans were considered inferior to European Americans. But in the 1950’s and 1960’s, the Civil Rights movement advocated for equal status for black people. Some white people did not want change. They argued that there would be endless, unreasonable battles between the two sides, and there would be a national disaster. Yet we dealt with disagreements as they came up. And today black and white people live in relative peace together. Why is the current civil rights situation, with a straight majority afraid of equal rights for LGBT folks, any different? And why is the prospect of peace between gays and straights any less possible?
To be sure, many people oppose same-sex marriage, based on what they see as religious prohibitions. They cite God’s word that a man must not lie with another man, and that a woman must not lie with another woman. But, there is a clear separation of church and state in our country. Founding Fathers such as Jefferson and Hamilton clearly thought that religious thought and belief should be totally outside the realm of government. Opposition to gay marriage, admittedly, is not solely based on religious beliefs, but religion does seem to come up incredibly often. And that being the case, the argument is moot thanks to numerous court cases and the clear intent of our Founding Fathers. Religious ideals need to stay out of politics. Period.
Having focused thus far on the positions that fuel opposition to same-sex marriage, let me, as a Republican (That’s right, a Republican!) try to explain how recent Republican party politics have made a turn for the worse. I find it very interesting how the 1980 Republican Party Platform compares favorably to the current one. The platform of 32 years ago proclaims proudly, “The essence of freedom is the right of law-abiding individuals to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness without undue government intervention.”
The 1980 platform clearly states that Republicans stand for people’s freedom, with the least possible government intervention. In 1980, then, Republicans would have (at least rhetorically) stood for not intervening on gay marriage. They may have opposed it morally, but they did not put major attention to the issue. And, throughout the period immediately following this platform (1981-1993), all three presidential elections were won by Republicans.
Why would a party change a winning formula? If I were head of the Republican Party, and it had won three consecutive elections, I would not touch much of anything.
However, due to twenty years of religious and other very conservative activists, who are less concerned with winning elections than enforcing their moral values, the Republican Party has shifted more and more to the right socially. The farther right they go, the more different the Republicans become from the Democrats. The increasing separation creates gridlock within Congress, which is supposed to forge together different perspectives for our country, not simply to lift up one party. Democrats begin to dislike Republicans overall. And people like me, non-ideological Republicans, feel pushed to the left. I fear for the American people when I see Mitt Romney unable to intelligently explain why gay people should not get married.
As you prepare to vote, here’s the scoop. I am not saying you have to like same-sex marriage. Every American is allowed his or her opinion. We live in a democracy. You may even dislike LGBT people. Ultimately, you have the right to your views. But in our country, just because your moral or religious beliefs are against something, does not mean that you can restrict other people’s lives. They deserve the same rights as you and I. We are all people: Republicans, Democrats, and Tea Partiers; infants, toddlers, preteens, teens, and adults; Jews, Christians and Muslims.And guess what? Gay people...ARE PEOPLE TOO! Not only that, but, if they are born in the U.S., then they are citizens. Citizens who deserve all rights to happiness that other citizens have--including the right to marry the people they love.
My fellow Minnesotans: no matter your religious beliefs, on November 6, think about your beliefs about equality for all American citizens. Share the same rights that you yourself enjoy. VOTE NO.