As the Supreme Court gets ready to hear arguments on California’s Proposition 8 — banning gay marriage, we should probably reflect on why it matters to any of us. The reason it matters is obvious if you’re gay or lesbian — this directly affects your life.
For the rest of us, the question is a little different. The reality is that this does absolutely NO HARM to anyone else nor anyone else’s marriage. To say that it’s legal for consenting adults to get married, regardless of the plumbing that they and their partner have is fundamentally irrelevant to the health and well-being of anyone else’s marriage. If you belong to a religion whose literal interpretation of the Bible suggests it’s ‘wrong’ (then I hope you also are consistent and avoid eating shrimp, do not work on the Sabbath, sell your daughters into marriage, etc. because really — we’re talking about the same set of rules from the same chapter), then I’m guessing your church isn’t going to be marrying any gay folks anytime soon. Just the same as the churches who walk in the vision of religion that Christ actually talked about (e.g., loving everyone, tolerance, judging not lest you be judged yourself… that kind of thing) who have been marrying lesbian and gay couples for quite a while are going to continue the practice.
So, if we forget that most of us know (or <gasp> are friends with GLBT folks) someone who’s lesbian or gay, the question is — why should it matter to us? Ironically enough, at a personal level it shouldn’t — someone’s right to marry another legal and consenting adult has absolutely no impact on anyone else’s marriage.
But at a social matter it really must. To say it doesn’t, is like saying that the physical and cultural genocide of native peoples in the US, internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, slavery, women’s rights, and the civil rights movements haven’t left a mark on Americans — who we are as a people and how we have tried to move forward from some of the ugliest parts of our short history. The annoying thing about Americans is that we pay lip service to being a “great” country and love our Constitution and Bill of Rights, but we still haven’t effectively dealt with our history of violence, racism, and sexism. Hell, there are still a significant portion of Americans — especially in the South — who still think it should be illegal for folks of different races to marry. But despite the crazy views of these jerks, society is moving forward. That’s why we can’t base our laws on vocal haters whose arguments are based in antiquated and frankly ignorant views of other human beings. We have to serve the greater good and our society with greater inclusiveness.
Scott Fujita, of the Cleveland Browns wrote an elegant essay on the importance of supporting marriage equality as the next step in improving the condition of equality in the US specifically talking positioning gay marriage in line with the other changes in American law — making the US more tolerant and more open to difference. It’s great to see more public figures like him coming forward to support equal rights — in fact, a solid majority of Americans support equal rights for our LGBT friends which speaks to our society’s views and values changing with time.