Whew, I can barely keep up with the news spin cycle lately! As we watched all the fallout, both in my state and nationally, of Senator Lugar’s primary defeat, word came that President Obama was sitting down for an interview with ABC, and several sources said that he would speak out in favor of marriage equality.
And hot diggity dog, he DID! Obviously, that eclipsed all other stories today, whether you agree with him or not.
I’ve made no secret of the fact that I stand with my LGBT friends and family in support of marriage equality, and I share in their happiness that our President took a stand (okay, yes...finally). I’m not going to speculate about whether this is a political liability or asset for this fall’s election (it’s both), because I’ve read plenty of articles about that today, and perhaps many of you have, too. I’m also not going to speculate as to whether this was planned or whether Vice-President Biden, Arne Duncan, and others in his administration forced his hand. It ultimately doesn’t matter. What matters is that the President of the United States has said that he supports marriage equality. To use the Vice-President’s term, this is a big fucking deal. (Well, sometimes I say that, too.)
Of course, this doesn’t change our policy as a nation. This is a big step forward, however, and I’m proud of my President for standing up and saying that he believes this should happen in our country. Some have derided his remarks about “evolving” on the topic, but I understand completely, because I evolved, too. Several years ago, my position was to support civil unions, but not actual marriage between gay couples. It wasn’t until I really started exploring the topic, talking with family and friends, reading more about it, and truly stopped to think about WHY I didn’t support marriage equity that I changed my views. The truth was that I had no legitimate objections to it, none that withstood close examination. To be brutally honest with myself, I have to say that I really hadn’t thought it through. It might have been a sort of wishy-washy compromise in order to not offend the more conservative members of my family, but whatever it was, my opposition was simply not justifiable.
The more I read and thought about it, the stronger my convictions became that this is nothing less than a civil rights issue. Most objections to marriage equality are because of religious convictions; even beyond the fact that we do not base our laws on religious beliefs, this completely ignores the fact that marriage is a civic institution. I’ve written about this rather extensively before, but it bears repeating: I don’t care if you get married in the freakin’ Sistine Chapel by the Pope himself, you aren’t legally married unless you get that marriage license from your state. That’s why our marriage is completely valid, despite the fact that we got married at Tippecanoe Place by the vice-chair of the county Democratic Party. (And for those who claim that marriage is for procreation, we don’t have kids, either. Marriage still valid. Deal.) Marriage equality does not mean that religious institutions will have to marry or recognize same-sex couples, and in fact, the states that have passed marriage equality laws make sure that such language is very clear. But that doesn’t matter, anyway. The STATE is the government entity that recognizes legal marriage. Period.
It is a civil rights issue because a portion of our populace is being denied the rights and freedoms that other citizens are able to enjoy. This is wrong, and I am confident that it will eventually be made right. President Obama going on the record and saying today that he supports the rights of gay couples to marry is a step in the right direction, and I was happy to hear him say it. Let’s keep moving forward!