Reason to Vote #1: Protecting Marriage Equality

“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 The decision repealed two laws established under the Racial Integrity Act of 1924, which discriminated against both people of color and people living with mental illness and other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?

Everything.

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While some states repealed their laws of their own accord, other states had to be told by the federal government that discrimination was unacceptable.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.

Photo by Caroline Hunton

E. S. Henry at the Prop 8 Rally in Spokane, WA. November 2008. Photo by Caroline Hunton.

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1 Comment

Filed under Feminism, LGBT, Politics, Sexuality

One response to “Reason to Vote #1: Protecting Marriage Equality

  1. Theresa

    Civil rights is an issue that has been growing in importance for me. It may be that I’m simply becoming more aware of issues, or it may be that I now live in an area where there is more hostility toward the GLBT community than I could ever have thought possible. There has been a series of rallies, protests, and fiery opinion letters lately in Memphis over a GLBT issue that had come before the city council. Was it about legal marriage for same-sex couples? No. Was it about granting adoption rights to same-sex families? No. The city council was voting on whether to include sexual orientation and gender identity in a city anti-discrimination ordinance. They wanted to protect city employees who are GLBT from being fired on that basis. The vote barely passed and then was delayed for legal reasons, and there was an outpouring from the conservatives in Memphis. Especially, and deplorably, from the conservative Christian clergy. They even went so far as to condemn the pro-ordinance rally at the National Civil Rights Museum, claiming that preventing homosexual or transgendered city employees for being fired because of their orientation or identity is NOT a furthering of civil rights, but an effort on the part of the GLBT community “to permeate the American culture with this UN-Godly life style.” As in the ongoing struggle for same-sex marriage, the conservative voices in Memphis spun this ordinance as gays trying to pervert the law to gain themselves as many “special protections” as possible, when, in fact, it is simply the GLBT community trying to make sure they are as protected under the law as people of every “religion, race, sex, creed or political affiliation.”

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