I know it’s not a popular opinion but when I’m asked about marriage equality I’m always quick to remember that equality requires everyone to make a compromise and in this case that means both sides of this argument.
For almost my entire life I have been watching religious leaders and Civil Rights leaders arguing over the right for same sex couples to be “married” and to tell you the truth… I’ve never quite gotten over the fact that the answer is, “It depends on what church you attend.” For me, the argument has never actually been about making marriage legal for same sex couples. The real argument is about making sure that everyone has equal rights.
The fact that the government is involved in a union like marriage is beyond me. No matter how you slice it or dissect its history, marriage is currently a religious union. As a firm believer in the separation of church and state that meant that the real question was why the government had any say in who was allowed to be married or not. That’s right folks. I’m a “marriage abolitionist” and if you believe in equality you may want to become one too.
There are two separate things happening in this exchange. There is a religious or spiritual idea about the union between people and then there is a system of laws pertaining to rights and privileges of two people who have entered into a legally binding contract with one another. Yes… it’s really that simple.
The real issue is that the problem has become too emotional to address in a clear and direct way that acknowledges these facts. Gays and lesbians (and many other variations of same sex couples) have been persecuted, demeaned, oppressed and literally killed for as far back as one can look into our history. When you are carrying that kind of heavy burden around for such an amazingly long period of time there can sometimes be a sense of “justice” or retribution, or dare I say punishment, for those who have been laying that burden on the shoulders of many. What marriage equality has fought for has been more about that than actual equality.
The LGBTQ community and its allies feel that the religious communities who have scorned them should be told what marriage is about. Problem is, that’s using the same oppressive approach that they have been victim of for far too long. So long as there are religious people who don’t want LGBTQ people to marry and so long as there are LGBTQ people… this argument will continue. I’m not saying that fight is not one that has value. I’m saying that it has nothing to do with actual equality.
Imagine if the word marriage was stricken from the law books all together and in its place a uniform “civil union” between two individuals that honored all individuals to be one of the two people entering into the contract regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation or the like. So long as any two people could enter into that agreement and receive the same benefits (and drawbacks…) then we would suddenly have equality without having to include the argument about marriage at all and that argument could continue on as long as it wanted too without actually discriminating against anyone.
Want to get married? Find a church, have your party, do your thing. Just don’t try to force others to have to acknowledge that you’re “married” and suddenly you’re “equal in the eyes of the law” and married in the eyes of those who chose to accept it. Let’s be honest… if there is anyone that doesn’t accept it then there sure wouldn’t be anything written in a law that could force them to change their mind.
I understand the pain of oppression. I agree that the LBGTQ community has been saddled with it for far too long. I believe that anyone who is in love should be able to get married without question. That’s why my church is so awesome. However, if equality is to truly be found then both sides of the argument have to be willing to make compromises that honor equality. Why not honor equality by simply taking the argument out of the courts where countless tax payer dollars are spent and use that money to pay for things like education and homelessness? If we could get this conversation moved it would be the most amazing demonstration of grace that the LGBTQ community could possibly show.
I know you have been persecuted and I am here to help the healing begin but you don’t heal by lashing out and hurting others. If compassion, kindness, grace and love are truly at the forefront of the desired outcome than maybe it’s time to use those attributes in the way we deal with the problem. Hate begets hate. Love begets love. That’s the whole point isn’t it? To BE what we want to GET. Marriage abolition may be unpopular but if you think about it you might find it’s the only way to stop hurting people and start the healing process instead.