Thursday, October 29, 2009

On Gay Marriage - IMHO

I'm going to shock friends and family alike with my next statement. I'm NOT an opponent of gay marriage. Why? I believe in the Constitution. I believe in equal protection under the law. The issue of gay marriage is a civil one, not a religious one.

Perhaps that is colored by my personal experience. When my husband and I married over 27 years ago we first had to be married civilly and then were married in the Church. What? We were married in Belgium which, like much of Europe, requires a civil marriage take place before the religious marriage. They are two different issues addressed in two different places. The sacramental nature of our marriage wasn't negated or diminished by the civil marriage.

I know it would take a tidal wave of change, but imagine if in the US couples were required to be married civilly first. It would remove many of the religious issues that surround the discussion of gay marriage. It would reframe the question--Is it legal?

Yesterday I attempted to have a discussion about the issue with a professional colleague in another state. She feared that her state would follow the "far right" to ban marriage as was done in California. I tried to point out that it wasn't us crazy conservatives that put Prop 8 over the top.

The problem in California wasn't just the "far right," but the huge turnout of voters for President Obama that voted for Prop 8 (banning gay marriage). reported:

But for Golden State liberals, minority turnout was a mixed blessing. Proposition 8, the California ballot initiative to ban gay marriage, passed by about four percentage points. According to exit polls, Obama's African-American supporters helped put Proposition 8 over the top. That's the irony of Obama's victory: Had black turnout matched levels of previous elections, the vote on the gay-marriage ban—which trailed in the polls for much of the summer—would have been much closer. It might even have failed.

My colleague didn't want to discuss any of this. I was just "wrong." Why? It's easier to point to the evil conservatives than to discuss ways to ensure the government provides equal access to our civil institutions. Its easier than to admit the prejudice exists within our communities. Unless we can have honest discussions we won't be able to move forward.

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