Marriage Rights Are Civil Rights

One of the hot topics of the past few years in American politics, has been that of marriage equality. It’s a debate that’s being waged from the halls of power in Washington, D.C., all the way down to the living rooms and churches of the American heartland. Churches have suffered schisms over the issue of sexuality and gender, and cases which could have a national impact on the topic of marriage equality are currently being deliberated upon by the highest court in the land.

Image Credit: Marriage Equality USA
Image Credit: Marriage Equality USA

I recently found myself discussing the subject of marriage equality with my father, who is an evangelical Christian and a board member in his local church. Looking back, I’m not at all sure of how the topic came up but there we were, sitting across from each other at the dining room table, discussing exactly what a vote for or against marriage equality was actually about.

My father maintained that he has to vote his conscience, and his conscience tells him that gay marriage is wrong. I, on the other hand, posited that his vote on the issue was not merely a vote for his individual situation, but that it was a vote that affects every single citizen within the purview of the measure being voted upon, whether that be at the local, state or national level. My position was, and still is, that this issue is not a question of should gay marriage be legalized and/or recognized, but one of should people within the LGBT community have the ability to avail themselves of all of the same rights, privileges and protections under the law, that straight people already do?

This is not, as the religious right would argue, a matter of redefining marriage. It is a matter of adhering to and acknowledging the basic concept of what a marriage is; a legally binding contract between two consenting adults.

Neither is marriage the province of the church, or any religious institution. One simple fact bears this out; one cannot obtain a marriage license from a church. For this document, one must consult the county office in which they are entering into the marriage. While it is true that the person officiating the marriage must affix their signature to the document, the document itself is again, filed with the county, not the church.

This is a question of equal rights, and has been all along. Lately, that fact has even been acknowledged by conservative commentators, such as Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly who have, in their own ways, affirmed the fact that the conservative base is losing the debate over marriage equality. Their losses are rapidly translating into wins for the LGBT community and all who support them, as evinced by the legalization of marriage equality in Washington, Maryland and Maine in last November’s elections.

The battle is not over, not by a long shot. States such as North Carolina that have enacted legislation abolishing all recognition of marriage equality, will have to be brought before the courts and have those measures deemed unconstitutional, as is currently happening with California’s “Proposition 8.” Cases citing the constitution’s “Full Faith and Credit Clause” will most likely be filed as well. In the end, I would like to think that justice will prevail, and that this nation will live up to the moniker of The Land of The Free.

Edited by AEK

Published by CB