Carla and Miriam fell in love and decided to get married. Last summer they held a lavish ceremony on the coast. All of their friends and family attended. Carlas dad, a minister, officiated. Miriams dad wrote and sang a special song. After the reception, the two headed off to their honeymoon.
When they returned, they felt like a married couple. They moved in together, opened their gifts and started talking about having a baby. Even though, the couple feels committed to each other, they have none of the legal rights that protect other married couples. If Carla becomes ill, Miriam is not guaranteed the right to be with her in the hospital. If Miriam dies, her distant nieces and nephews have more of a claim to her belongings than Carla does. They file single on their tax returns and are not allowed to be on each others health plans.
The Canadian government ruled on June 10th 2003 to overturn the laws that prevented same sex couples from marrying. American couples can go to Canada to tie the knot, but it remains to be seen whether or not those same-sex marriages will be recognized by the United States government. President Bush and the Pope have both come out publicly against the sanction of same-sex unions.
Gay Marriage: What's the Big Deal?So, whats the big deal? If two people love each other, shouldnt they be allowed the same rights, privileges and responsibilities, no matter their genders? Yet, marriage is so much greater than the commitment of two people to each other. Marriage is an institution that much of our culture revolves around. It is also an institution that is in crisis.
Divorce rates are at an all time high. Infidelity in marriage is an epidemic. When someone can compete on a television reality show to Marry a Millionaire, the argument about saving a sacred institution seems kind of pointless.
Gay Marriage and Children
And then theres the whole issue of the children. Some argue that children are better off raised in a male-female headed household. Whether there is truth to that argument or not, is not the point. Many couples will marry and not have children: gay and straight. Gay and lesbian couples are having children already without the benefit of marriage. So are single moms, teenagers and drug addicts. Preventing a loving same sex couple from making a legal commitment to each other can only hurt their children. It can send a message, like it did in the case of one Massachusetts couple, that mommy and mommy dont really love each other, because if they did, they would get married. How do you explain the legal system to a five year old?
Some churches oppose same-sex marriage. Yet some, like the Unitarians and Metropolitan Community Church, bless gay marriages and perform commitment ceremonies. The Episcopalians are debating the issue right now. Whatever they decide does not and should not matter. Separation of church and state is essential to the freedom we enjoy as Americans. It is also the value our Constitution was based upon.
Most of the arguments against gay and lesbian marriage are flawed and reactionary. They are reminiscent of the arguments against interracial marriages fifty years ago: that it will harm children, send the wrong moral message and devalue the institution of marriage.
Most Americans, perhaps with the exception a few in white robes, will agree that the ban on interracial marriages is nothing more than prejudice at work. Soon, we will look back at the arguments against same-sex marriages and see, like the ban on interracial marriages, that they are backed by nothing more than bigotry, prejudice and fear.