Politics & Media
Dec 18, 2015, 10:18AM

Gay Marriage Doesn't Affect Me

I hope you'll agree.

Same sex marriage supreme court.jpg?ixlib=rails 2.1

Are you better or worse off since June 26, 2015, when the U.S. Supreme Court delivered their landmark opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges? The Court held that the right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples by the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. In a 5-4 vote, the Court applied this protection to all Americans, in effect speeding up the work that had already been happening in individual states. It was a contentious decision in the Court and the debate continues in communities around the country and especially on social media.

In thinking about how the June SCOTUS opinion on gay marriage affects me, I came to an important conclusion, and one that I hope all those arguing against same-sex marriage in the country will consider. Bottom line: it doesn’t.

That’s right. The Supreme Court decision doesn’t specifically affect my life. The truth is that, as a white heterosexual woman, my actions are not impacted by the ruling. And this is not a theoretical problem for me to consider. I’m getting married next July and no one will bat an eyelash. When my fiancé and I get our marriage license, we won’t worry about whether the clerk will refuse to serve us. When we travel, we won’t wonder whether our marriage will be recognized from place to place. Like most heterosexual couples, the focus of marriage is more on the wedding, ceremony and traditions. Instead of having to consider whether my desire to be married could result in legal issues, I’m flipping through bridal magazines looking for the perfect dress.

So why do I care? There are two compelling reasons. First, I’m friends with several couples who are same-sex and whose lives have been directly impacted both by the absence of marriage equality and by the new laws and court rulings that have made it possible for them to express their love in a way that most heterosexual couples have taken for granted. I’ve watched as these couples have considered whether to get married in a state where same-sex marriage is legal, or to wait until their home state—the state where they live, work, pay taxes, and participate in their community—approves of their decision to make a commitment to one another based on love. I’ve seen the disappointment and the frustration that these couples experience in not having the same options and opportunities given their friends and neighbors.

The second reason is that I’m an American. I believe in every citizen’s right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, a tenet that was eloquently stated by Thomas Jefferson and the Second Continental Congress in adopting the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. From that moment forward, our government has been engaged in a perpetual battle to define and regulate those “self-evident” truths and “inalienable” rights. From the definition of personhood, slavery and civil rights to voting rights and equal protection of the law regardless of sex or race, factions looking to limit the basic rights of American citizens have always existed and met with resistance and legal remedy that include landmark laws like the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution, which was ratified in 1868, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Voting Act of 1965. These laws, and others, were the continuation of the struggle to achieve true equality under the law for all American citizens.

This struggle has existed in part because the Founding Fathers’ notion of equality for all was incomplete. What they meant was equality for all white, property-owning men. As the definition of a “person” expanded to include people of color and women, the definition of marriage also changed. The custom of marriage is very old has been narrowly focused, denying the right to marry to people of different cultures and colors, and even denying women equal rights of economy and property-ownership within their marriages. It’s taken a combined effort of legislative action, court rulings and even Constitutional amendment in order to achieve every increasing levels of equality of marriage and within marriage.

In 1967, the Supreme Court issued its decision in the matter of Loving v. Virginia (368 U.S. 1), which invalidated state laws prohibiting interracial marriage. In writing the Court’s unanimous decision, Chief Justice Earl Warren referred to marriage as “one of the ‘basic civil rights of man’ fundamental to our very existence and survival.” Based on that understanding, the Court invoked the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to ensure that American citizens would no longer be denied marriage equality on the basis of race. Not surprisingly, the Supreme Court in Obergefell cited the rationale used in Loving, noting that the same arguments apply to same-sex couples in 2015 that applied to interracial couples in 1967.

But why does it have to be marriage? Why can’t same-sex couples just have a “civil union”? After all, the institution of marriage is rooted in religion and a civil union gives a couple all the same legal benefits as marriage, right? This argument has circulated extensively in the marriage equality debate. But the argument is just another version of a doctrine once held to be fair in this country—separate but equal. In post-Civil War America, a push to end segregation resulted in the separate but equal doctrine, which allowed segregation as long as equal provisions were made for people of color. In 1896, the Supreme Court codified this policy in Plessy v. Ferguson and it wasn’t until Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 that our country acknowledged the truth—separate is not equal. This truth also applies to marriage. Marriage and civil union are not equal and expecting people to settle for civil union is not equal protection under the law.

In our communities, we feel the results of these expanded freedoms in subtle but crucial ways. We experience a collective increase in acceptance and tolerance. True, there’s resistance. Take a look in the business section at any bookstore and you’ll see change management is a hot topic. Change isn’t always comfortable. Embracing the unknown can be scary and difficult. But in the end, change is a necessary part of life. It propels us forward, allowing for progress and growth.

Next July, I’ll marry my best friend. He’s seen me through some of the hardest and happiest times of my life. I’m lucky to live in a country where I can choose to bind my life, emotionally and in every legal sense, to a person who I love and trust, whoever that person may be. When we get married, we’ll be doing it in an America that’s another step closer to providing the kind of freedom and equality to its citizens that we have celebrated for over 200 years. 

  • Okay. I agree that gay marriage doesn't affect you. Doesn't affect me, either. I suspect I could come up with a substantial list of things that don't affect you that you think ought to be stopped. For example. Terrorism is infinitesimally likely to hurt me, my family, or anyone I know. But it is certain to 100% going to hurt somebody. Note--to stop you right here--I'm not equating terrorism and gay marriage. I'm addressing the not-my-problem viewpoint. Now, suppose you hear from COG (Children of Gays) that being a kid in a gay household is a very bad thing. Doesn't affect you, either. As Walter Williams said, when the mascots of the Anointed have conflicting interests, it becomes....interesting. Suppose, for the sake of discussion, the Supremes' decision on gay marriage doesn't apply on Native American reservations. Who ya gonna call--a bad person?

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  • Oh, yeah. See the Frank Lombard case at Duke. So many conflicting narratives nobody knew what to say. But it was obvious who had the most juju.

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  • Well put Amy! The sky has not fallen, its been business as usual for heterosexual marriage, and 'COGs' as Richard calls them, now have greater protection! Their families can no longer be legally discriminate against. The SCOTUS ruling came and went, and little has changed for the vast majority of Americans. Time for the rest to move on with their lives.

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  • Suppose you heard from a PK (Preachers Kid) that being a kid in a minister's household is a very bad thing. Doesn't that affect you? Do you assume that all PKs have the same life experience. And therefore preachers should not be allowed to wed and have families? Or do you recognize that you should not make assumptions about entire populations based the misfortunes of some. Yes, some COGs, PKs and even COSs (Children of Straits) grow up in not so good homes. We need to treat them with love and compassion. And not use them as weapons to persecute others.

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  • Isaradinas. Not use them as weapons.... Sure. Like that will happen. Point is, now that gay marriage is dan and finedy, COGs who report Bad Things are going to be ....hey! Look! A squirrel!. No, actually, they'll be told they're not representative and they shouldn't be self-loathing and ought to just shut up. Same as...say, conservative blacks. See which of the competing narratives had the juice: http://www.cnn.com/2009/CRIME/06/30/duke.molestation.internet/ Which is to say, you never heard of this guy. Just like Jesse Dirkhising (aka "who?"). Pretending anybody wants a level playing field....reminds me of that old French saying, "it is to puke."

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  • Richard plays his waddabout game ("Waddabout ... Jesse Dirkhising?") in the same comment where he uses his "Look, a squirrel!" line. Meanwhile, Isardinas' point about PKs (new term to me) goes unanswered.

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  • CT. You're smarter than it pays you to pretend. The reason to pass over the PK, etc. is that the answer is obvious. Some work out, some don't. Everybody knows that. The question is who gets the ink. Like, say, Katie Rouse. Dukie raped at a fraternity house just about the time Crystal Mangum was getting the ink. Best the admin could come up with was....wrong place, wrong time. Andrew Sullivan wrote a scorching piece about the diff between Matthew Shepard's treatment in the gay community, and Dirkhising's. Implicitly, he scorched the media, too. I'd give the journos a pass on that one. Most of the Shepard ink was reporting what people were saying and doing about it. But there wasn't much saying and doing about Dirkhising. Which is the point. Some harratives have more juice than others. As in Lombard's case. You'd think the fate of the poor little black kid would merit some mention but....nope. Too dangerous to the Boss Narrative. I'm not telling you this because I think you don't know it. I'm telling you this because, if I know it, everybody knows it.

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  • "The reason to pass over the PK, etc. is that the answer is obvious. Some work out, some don't. Everybody knows that." Well ... yeah. Some work out, some don't. So how is pointing to a GPK (gay parents' kid) with a grievance any different from pointing at a PK with a grievance? Richard answers by jumping astride his hobbyhorse, old Media Bias, and going nowhere at great length.

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  • So I have to explain the Lombard and Dirkhising cases to you because there's no media bias? It's not just media bias. There are competing narratives. An Accredited Victim Group uses being victimized as a deposit in the moral authority account. Having an individual do something hasty is a withdrawal. Thus, we go all-in on being offended, even if we have to make it up, and ignore offending. I really doubt you, bright as you are, don't know about Dirkhising and Lombard. But it suits your purpose to pretend not to know and to blow off others' knowing. I keep saying....everybody knows better. A PK who doesn't work out gets the ink. Katie Rouse, raped at Duke about the time Mangum was getting the ink....wrong narrative. No ink. No interest from the SPEW (Self Proclaimed Exceptionally Wonderful).Same as the other two cases I mentioned. So a PK that doesn't work out will be run to death and a CoG will be told to shut his damn' mouth and disappear. Not that htis is a new concept to you. I keep saying...it's not a new concept to anybody. What's new is that...now you know it's not a new concept to anybody.

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  • The bottom line here, folks, is that there are two very distinct and valid points being made here and throughout this whole nation. Whether you choose to disagree with me or not is not important, nor does it affect me. I am against gay marriage because I am Christian, and GOD says it is an abomination in choosing to be a homosexual. One is not born gay because that would mean GOD is a liar. HE is not a liar, but most humans are. I am not an expert on the Constitution, but I believe some of the claims Ms. Rivers state regarding the "white, land-owning males.." meant by authoring the Constitution are accurate. However, this country was FOUNDED on Christianity, and when this country was FOUNDED, and the Constitution was WRITTEN, the Almighty, merciful GOD did not ever intend for slaves to be whipped and abused, nor women to be treated as second class citizens, nor for LGBT people to be beaten up. Jesus LOVES everyone, but HE HATES sin. READ it for yourself or don't. BUT HE DID say homosexuality is an abomination; a SIN. Now, you either understand and concur with the whole Bible, and you are obedient to your Creator, or you do not and you are not. This country used to be a GOD gloried nation. Oh, but look at her now. She's a Sodom and Gomorrah. Watch and see how that WILL affect everyone participating willful sin.

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