“Do things gradually will bring more tragedy. Why don’t you see it, why don’t you feel it? I don’t know, I don’t know. You don’t have to live next to me, just give me my equality. Everybody knows about Mississippi Goddamn!” – Nina Simone, Mississippi Goddamn.
Once a week I’ll be covering a different issue of the election season. This week I’m covering an issue very close to my heart: Marriage Equality. I grew up raised by the queer community. At my own (straight) wedding I made it very clear over and over again, that while I was taking advantage of the rights afforded to me by the United States government, I would continue to fight for the rights of my fellow human beings to claim these same rights as married couples. This post serves as part of that promise.
Marriage is a civil right. In 1967 the Supreme Court established legal precedent paving the way for the future of equality under the law. The decision repealed two laws established under the Racial Integrity Act of 1924, which discriminated against both people of color and people living with mental illness and other handicaps. What does this have to do with gay marriage?
The process for the repeal of anti-miscegenation laws was a slow and tedious process, always fraught with the notion of going slow in order to make the change feel gradual. This is the same thing which the LGBT community has been told – go slow. Go carefully. Don’t trouble the waters too much.
While some states repealed their laws of their own accord, other states had to be told by the federal government that discrimination was unacceptable. The same will likely come of same sex marriage.
Which is why this election season is so important. With several states in play, voters need to make their voices heard. We need to stand up and say that we believe in equality, because the more that we make noise the more likely that our federal government will listen.
We have a President who says he believes in gay marriage. We have to stand up for the rights of others in our community. Even if he says he supports it, his administration still enforces section 3 of DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) and thus bans same sex couples legally married from all the rights federally granted to heterosexual couples. That means that even if a same sex couple marries in a state where it is legal, no state other than their own is bound to recognize it, they cannot file joint tax returns, and many other federal rights. Ask more for President Obama. Vote him into a second term, and continue to push him to change discrimination in our country.
If you are a Washington State voter Approve Referendum 74.
If you are a Maine State voter vote YES on 1
If you are a Maryland State voter vote YES for question 6
We cannot change the system we live without speaking up about it. I know many in my generation believe that voting does nothing – but we need to put our votes where our beliefs are. That’s why I’ll be voting this year.
Why do I believe in gay marriage?
Because my marriage isn’t better than theirs. Because my role models for commitment are gay couples. Because I cannot call any love an abomination. I grew up raised by people who loved each other – not because of gender, or sexuality, or religious belief. They loved each other because of who their partners were. My father was gay, my mother is a woman. I don’t care. They loved each other. They loved each other enough that I am here.
If you love someone enough to commit your life to them, it shouldn’t matter whether or not you’re one man and one woman. It shouldn’t matter whether you can procreate or not. It shouldn’t matter what colors you are, or what religious beliefs you hold, or if you’re able bodied. What should matter is your love and your consent to be married.
I’m a heterosexual married woman. I see other marriages – gay or straight – as a testament to love and commitment, not as threats to my own. So let’s not stall any longer – lets’ not do this gradually. Let’s step into the 21st century, and give rights to all. Because you don’t have to agree with me: Just give my family their equality.
E. S. Henry at the Prop 8 Rally in Spokane, WA. November 2008. Photo by Caroline Hunton.