Over the past week, there’s been a lot of talk about Chick-fil-A, gay marriage, traditional marriage, freedom of speech… My friend Jessie decided to post on her wall asking her friends how gay marriage would truly have an impact on traditional marriage. I silently observed the comments for several days before taking some time today to respond to the points that were made as well as sharing my thoughts. Please note that some of the sections of below may seem choppy as they address various comments over the past week. Regardless, I wanted to share with you the impact your words can have on the conversation.
First, and foremost, thank you for allowing this conversation to take place on your wall. By doing so, you’ve helped connect a handful of people that otherwise may not be exposed to both sides of the view on same-sex marriage. I’ve largely just observed what people have had to say about the topic, but now feel that it’s probably a good time to weigh in myself.
It’s interesting to see how some chicken has created so much talk. Facebook threads, support-days, boycotts, name-calling, tweets, vandalism, freedom of speech protests… and it’s not just you and me talking about it on Facebook, everyone – from celebrities to former presidential contenders – has felt a need to weigh in.
Many “traditional marriage” supporters tell you that it’s about protecting the institution that is so sacred to them. However, many same-sex marriage supporters will point out that the definition of traditional marriage has changed quite significantly over time. 60 years ago, many were arguing that allowing blacks and whites to marry was changing traditional marriage (and it did change traditional marriage). It also changed when women were seen less as property and more as equals entering into a contract willingly for each party to love and serve one another.
Those same supporters of “redefining marriage” also point out that traditional marriage doesn’t have such a great reputation these days. They argue that with over half of marriages in this country ending in divorce, those fighting to preserve it might better invest in outlawing divorce or focusing their efforts on keeping traditional marriages together. Additionally, marriage equality supporters argue that with shows like, “Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire,” where women literally compete to marry a man for his money, there’s something amiss with the sacred institution.
But I’m not going to argue any of those points here. These discussions usually just end in heated dialogue where both sides walk away frustrated.
What I am going to focus on is the fact that, as Americans, we hold “certain unalienable Rights.” And it’s not just some of us that hold those rights; the Declaration of Independence makes it clear that ALL men are created equal and endowed with the right to “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” (Note that as a country, we’ve changed the “traditional” meaning of this statement to reflect both men and women.) Documents like the Declaration of Independence and our very own Constitution were written to protect the citizens of this great land. There was an intentional separation of church and state to avoid religious persecution that many came to America to escape. Yet, while we all learned these lessons in our 9th grade civics class, many of us seem to have forgotten these concepts.
I absolutely agree with those that stated Dan Cathy has every right to his beliefs and to express his beliefs without persecution from our government. Those are the protections he is provided in this great land. Of course, people that disagree with him also have a right to express their own freedom of speech, whether that’s not eating in his restaurants or vocally disagreeing. Some disagree in a productive and positive manner, others do not. That’s freedom of speech, it works both ways.
For those that claim that opening this door is a “slippery slope” because someday, I’m going to want to marry my dog or my toaster (thankfully, no one on this thread has made these comparisons, but I guarantee that if you’ve read anything on this topic, you’ve seen these comparisons), I want to take a moment to share my view. First, marriage is a contract between consenting adults. While the age of “consenting adults” varies across this nation, the idea is that you must be of an age where you can make a legally binding decision to enter said contract. A dog (or toaster), no matter his or her age, can never provide consent. As for family members getting married to one another; marriage among blood relatives is not allowed due to the genetic implications it would have on our society. With that said, in over half of this land, first cousins are allowed to get married – so long as they are not of the same gender! (and this hasn’t been a change to the “traditional” definition of marriage, these laws have been on the books for hundreds of years; I’ll give you, it’s mostly in the south)
So I’m not sure anyone is still with me, but I’m going to wrap up now with my final thoughts. Unfortunately, many who oppose same-sex marriage are simply ignorant to how our society is impacted by these views (and I use the word ignorant not in a derogatory manner, rather, to highlight that there is a lacking of knowledge per the dictionary definition). I say society – versus just limiting it to same-sex couples – intentionally (I’ll get to that in a minute).
Yes, committed same-sex couples are probably the most impacted by these views. While I’d love if Uncle Jere were actually correct that it’s only a “few other domestic rights” that I’m missing out on; he’s far from accurate. In Minnesota alone, there are over 515 legal implications to same-sex couples who can’t get married. Imagine if your wife was in the hospital and you were denied access to see her. How would that make you feel? Imagine not having the ability to execute your wife’s final wishes, or even being notified when her condition changes in the hospital. As sad as this sounds, imagine what it would feel like if she passed away and you didn’t even know what happened to her body and you were asked to leave the property you shared because it was in her name. These things happen in our country today; you can turn a blind eye and say that it “directly affects a relatively small portion of the population,” but I implore you to ask yourself, “What if I were that small portion of the population that we’re talking about?” How would you feel then? I’m guessing you’d be asking yourself what happened to the commitment made to you of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
While same-sex couples are probably the most impacted by these views, imagine if you’re growing up and dealing with the fact that you think you may be gay or lesbian. Imagine that a teenager is reading your comments right now. How do you think this discussion makes them feel? To hear grown adults argue that committed gay and lesbian couples that love one another don’t deserve to have their love recognized because it isn’t traditional? Or to hear that being gay or lesbian is a sin and that just for being who they are compares them to liars, murderers, adulterers and every other sin out there (whether or not this is something one is “born with” or “chooses” could cause a lengthy debate, so I’m not going to explore this deeply here. However, I’ll tell you, I don’t know many a gay or lesbian youth that would choose these feelings or the persecution that come along with them).
I’ll tell you first-hand, it’s not fun. I am here today because God was watching over me one early morning my Sophomore year of college when I didn’t think I could do it anymore. While many argue that gay and God are mutually exclusive, let me be an example that this is simply not true. I am stronger because of Him and I celebrate my life every day because I know in my heart that God doesn’t make mistakes. Through Scripture and faith, I know this above all else: God is Love.
Whether you realize it or not, your views and your voice carry far and wide. Those in committed same-sex relationships are not asking for “special” rights, they’re asking to be treated equally, a commitment that has been made to all of us. To Jessie’s original question, “How does allowing two people that love one another get married impact traditional marriage?” I think that it actually strengthens the institution and makes it better for all of us, because, at the end of the day, it’s all about love.
May your message of Love be the loudest of them all.
Thank you again, Jessie, for bringing us together to share our views, opinions and deeply-held beliefs.