Today, there are major battles occurring in New Zealand, the USA, France, and many other countries. It’s a civil war of sorts, another civil rights movement, and this time, the question is: Should we allow gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered (LGBT) couples legally marry? (Not civil unionise. Marry. As one of the Supreme Court justices said, it’s the difference between a skim-milk marriage and a full marriage.)
We’ve heard every excuse in the book from the anti-marriage crowd.
“Marriage is for procreation.” Really? How can two straight people in their 50s get married if marriage is for procreation?
“God / Allah / Jesus / [Insert Your God Here] wants marriage between a man and a woman.” I don’t think you or I can say anything about what God (or whatever god you believe in) thinks. Besides, marriage has been around for a lot longer than some of our gods, so no one religion can truly make a claim on the institution of marriage. Also, holy books like the Bible say a lot of things like, “Don’t eat shellfish” and “Don’t wear clothes of two different fabrics” and “Women are not equal to men” and “You can have slaves” and “Don’t cut your hair” and “Don’t get tattoos or pierce your body” and (my favourite) “Thou shalt not commit adultery”, yet anti-marriage equality people seem to conveniently forget some or all of these parts. And, while we’re arguing this point, LGBT couples are asking for the right to legally marry so we can have the same rights and privileges under the law (not your church) that straight couples have.
“God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.” If you are dumb enough to believe that Adam and Eve were the only two people on the planet at the start, then you are dumb enough to spout garbage like this. My Mom (a very smart woman) said to me one time: “I think Genesis in the Bible is how God tried to tell His people about these things in very simple terms, like explaining the Big Bang and evolution to a 5 year old.” And it’s true. Now, we’d say, “Imagine there was a boy named Adam, and a girl named Eve,” knowing that Adam represented men and Eve represented women. And, even if you want to argue this point with me, go read some of the additional Biblical texts out there and let me know who Lilith is and how she fits into the picture if Adam and Eve are the only man and woman on the planet. On the scientific front, homosexuality and even homosexual pairing is observed in many species on this planet. So, God created gay ducks but He didn’t create gay people? Right.
“Marriage is sacred.” If it’s so sacred, why do we allow divorce?
“The fabric of society will unravel if we let gay and lesbian couples get married.” Really? Because we heard this argument with multiracial couples, and it totally happened when we allowed a black man to marry a white woman. Oh wait. It didn’t. And see the point above. If divorce, single parents, mixed marriages, etcetera, etcetera, haven’t destroyed the fabric of society (and they won’t), I doubt letting a few loving, caring, monogamous gay and lesbian couples getting married will unravel society either.
I could go on all day with some of the garbage that people say about the whole thing, but it comes down to this:
I was born gay; the only choice I made was to tell the truth and live my life true to my biology / genetics / whatever made me gay. I pay the same taxes as everyone else. I am supposedly equal in the eyes of the law. But, as the law currently stands, I do not have the legal right to marry my partner Noel. This automatically bars him and me from certain legal rights (like the ability to adopt as a couple) in New Zealand and thousands of legal rights, protections, and abilities in the USA. This brings the argument back to that, therefore, as a gay man, I am not equal in the eyes of the law.
The USA is very good at doing this to groups of people, including African-Americans throughout US history and Japanese-Americans during World War II (at least). Animal Farm has the perfect quote: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
One of the stories my Grandpa used to tell us that stands out in my mind was when he had to go to the emergency room in a hospital in Chicago or Milwaukee sometime in the 1940s or 1950s; I wish I could remember the story exactly. My Grandpa had scoliosis (a curvature of the spine) and so, I guess he was used to being a bit of an outsider in that regard, and he did the Christian thing and treated others as he would like to be treated. At the hospital, Grandpa had to wait for a while to see a doctor. The nurse came in, quite flustered, and apologised profusely. Grandpa said he was in a bit of pain, and the nurse said, “Well, we do have a coloured doctor on duty.” Grandpa told her he didn’t care what colour the guy was, send him in.
The doctor came in and kept asking Grandpa if he was sure he wanted an African-American doctor to help him. Grandpa said, “You’re a doctor, aren’t you?” The doctor confirmed he was, to which Grandpa replied (again) that he didn’t care what colour the doctor was as long as he could make him feel better.
And this is the attitude a lot of my family has to this day. This was the amazing attitude Grandpa had towards everyone he met in life, and it’s something I try to emulate (hopefully somewhat successfully, because I, like he, am a minority).
Grandpa died in 2004, aged 83. I still think about him every day. At his wake, though, another amazing thing happened.
My Grandma was talking to one of her and Grandpa’s friends, a woman about the same age. I was standing nearby and happened to overhear my Grandma: something she doesn’t know to this day.
My then-83 year old Grandma said, “Marty (my Grandpa) even got to see Scott before passing away. Scott flew in from New Zealand; we all wish his husband Noel could be here with us, too.”
My grandparents, devout Catholics their entire lives, never cared that I was gay. They never cared that I was in love with another man or wanted to marry him. They thought I should have the same rights as everyone else. They never judged me at all, because they loved me for who I am.
It took courage for my Grandpa to let an African-American doctor help him out in an era that that was frowned upon. It took courage for my Grandma to say to her peers that her grandson was married to another man. It took courage for my friends and family to stand behind Noel and me to love us for who we are and support us in our fight for marriage equality.
Every little step we take as individuals, for the freedom and equality of others, helps change society in a positive way.
Do you have the courage to stand with us, on the right side of history?