With apologies to Mark Twain, the reports of my death are greatly exaggerated…yes, it has been quite a while since my last post, but no, I have not shuffled off this mortal coil as yet, and will not for many years to come. I do want to thank everyone for their thoughts, prayers and well wishes. We were able to catch the cancer in Stage 1, and while the recovery is a slow process, I have a great team of people here at HQB who have jumped in to make certain the people we serve continue to have their needs met. Now, onto brighter topics…the Marriage Amendment also now known as “Limiting the Status of Marriage to Opposite Sex Couples.”
There are a lot of interesting topics that are strangely divisive in our country. The moment you raise them, all sorts of preconceived notions spring to people’s minds, they shut down. Suddenly, you’re not having a thoughtful consideration of the issue with a thorough examination of the merits and consequences, but an instant reaction based upon whatever information was received last. The former, if done honestly, usually leads to one of two outcomes, either an objective clear choice of the right thing, or a valid subjective choice that is clearly based on one’s own beliefs, but then also requires that allowance be made for any other valid subjective choices based on different beliefs. Topics like racism, affirmative action, the death penalty and of course, gay marriage fall into this dynamic. But, if you understand this dynamic, this all becomes fairly simple especially in this case because there is NO objective reason for two consenting adults, regardless of their race, color, creed, gender or orientation not to have the legal right to get married.
There are plenty of subjective ones…but again, if you entertain those, you have to entertain the opposite viewpoint as just as valid, but we’ll get to that in a minute.
On April 2, 1966, my mother, an African American Catholic woman from Chicago married my father, a Caucasian Southern Baptist from Mississippi. It would be another year before the United States Supreme Court ruled in Loving vs. the State of Virginia, overturning the convictions and dismissing the Commonwealth of Virginia’s argument that a law forbidding both white and black persons from marrying persons of another race, and providing identical penalties to white and black violators, could not be construed as discriminatory. The ruling included the following:
“Marriage is one of the “basic civil rights of man,” fundamental to our very existence and survival…. To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State’s citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discrimination. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State”
When my parents got married, it was still illegal in parts of the country (ironically they currently reside in Virginia) and my father’s side (the Scots-Irish from Mississippi) didn’t speak to them for 4 years and even tried to stop the wedding…truth be told I almost think the Catholic vs. Southern Baptist issue was bigger than the race one…almost. But really it was fear and preconceived notions about African Americans, and how “different” they were. Like most Americans, they had been fooled by some of the loudest and fearful voices they had heard in their community and on the radio and television…not personal experience…that is until I was born. I was the first grandchild, and there is something about children and grandchildren that enables people to cast aside their fears and preconceptions and really get to understand people. Today, my Caucasian Southern Baptist grandmother is closer to my African American Catholic mother than she is to most anyone. The two of them love each other and the fears and notions of the past have been left right there, in the past.
Now, on the surface, it may seem different, but in reality, it’s the same core issue of the past. And that is where this outdated notion of limiting marriage belongs, because it, too, is based on fear and preconceived notions. And examined objectively and honestly, there is no legitimate reason that can be found to continue such an archaic notion.
But that does not stop individuals and organizations from trying to do so. Reasons like it will destroy the institution of marriage as we know it and it is against God’s law come out, but when examined objectively, they fall away. I have yet to have anyone explain why expanding the number of people getting married and allowing them to marry who they love, regardless of gender, destroys the institution. If anything the idea that marriage is so important that more people want to be legally allowed to do it, to the point that we are changing how it has been thought of to date actually reinforces the importance of marriage. Or the idea that it violates religious tenets is foreign to me again, mainly because I believe in a God of love and peace that open his arms to all people and I cannot imagine that he would turn away two people who love each other and looking to be joined in his name. And if I’m somehow wrong about this, most faiths believe that judgment comes after death by God, at which point he would handle this himself and doesn’t need a relief pitcher in the early innings. For those not religious, not only will whatever judgment awaits not be relevant to them, but it has no place as an argument against this. As long as we will have ceremonies in front of Justices of the Peace and similar officiants, religion does not have a place in the law regarding who can get married. And with the absurd idea that this will lead to polygamy or bestiality or marrying chairs, besides shaking my head in bemusement, I would say that those would be separate legal considerations and let’s just cross those fictional bridges when we come to them…with a dragon and a unicorn, because their accompanying you is the same likelihood that either of those will happen.
The point is that you don’t have to be in favor of Gay marriage to understand the constitutionality of the issue and that it could and should be allowed. If you think it violates your religion, why not allow God to deal with it himself? I’m pretty sure that anyone who created the stars and sky can handle the definition of marriage. This doesn’t mean that you have to hang out with LGBT people or celebrate Pride weekend, just treat them as human beings worthy of the same respect and civil rights that you or anyone else has.
Perhaps it is fitting that this past June marked the 45th anniversary of the Loving vs. the State of Virginia decision, and once again our country is torn apart by a debate on marriage…but just as it was once illegal for my wife and I and my parents to be married, it’s still illegal for my cousin and his partner to be wed and that’s something that simply cannot be allowed to persist if we are a country that stands for rights of the individual and the life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. If we are to live up to our creed as a nation by the people, of the people and most importantly FOR the people, then it is time to once again ensure equality for all people and let these outdated and archaic notions become a thing of the past.
It is right. It is just. And Lord knows, it’s about time.