For the homosexual community in the US, this week has been significant for two conflicting reasons. One, the ridiculous vote in North Carolina to amend the state constitution to make gay marriage unconstitutional. This, in a state where gay marriage was already illegal.
Whether marriage itself is a necessity or not is a discussion for another time but what is undeniable is that when two people are so deeply committed to each other, it is entirely up to them whether they would want to get married or not. While I believe that religious organizations have a right to decide whether their bronze age myths permit same sex weddings or not, the state has no business in regulating marriage.
The religious right wing in America and many conservatives reveal their hypocrisy when the issue of gay marriage is raised. While they want little or no government interference in their personal lives, they themselves have no qualms about invading the personal lives ofpeople whom they do not even know. And it is even more shocking when the likes of Newt Gingrich, he who left his first wife when she had cancer and who asked his second wife for an open marriage, says that gay marriage will destroy family values. Bristol Palin, the unwed single mother talks about the sanctity of marriage while never bothering to take the steps herself.
An undeniable fact of marriage is that there are several state subsidized benefits that go along with it. Married couples are eligible for certain tax breaks, they pay less insurance and a person can have his spouse on his or her health plan, which reduces overall healthcare costs for the family. But monetary benefits aside, this is a deeply private matter for two individuals. When you love somebody enough to make a commitment to one another, why should any outsider decide whether you are allowed to make that commitment or not? And even more flabbergasting is the argument that social conservatives use while preaching their moralistic nonsense. “What’s next?” they ask. “Would we see a man wedding a dog now?” The obvious point that a dog cannot give consent is overlooked by all.
And consent here is the key word. A child cannot give consent, hence pedophilia is a crime. A woman who is raped has not given consent, hence rape is a crime. But when two consenting adults express their love for one another, why should anybody be anything but happy for them?
Then comes the argument that homosexuality is unnatural. It is a well known fact that several animals display homosexual behavior. It is even more shameful that in India, a legal battle is still raging following a court order that decriminalized homosexuality. I am happy that I reside in a state where gay marriage was legalized and intend to do my best to defend this personal freedom when the religious right tries to put this on the ballot.
The second reason is much more cheerful in nature. After Vice President Joe Biden affirmed his support for gay marriage last week, President Obama gave it his support as well. It was probably the worst kept secret in Washington but it is hugely significant for several reasons.
No president of the United States have ever voiced his support for equal rights for homosexuals. And it is even more significant that President Obama chose to do so this year. To anyone who thinks this was unplanned or a gaffe, think again. Facing a tough re-election, no president would make such a statement unless his campaign team sensed which way the tide was turning.
More than half of Americans approve of gay marriage according to recent polls and endorsement from the President himself will give a major fillip to the gay rights movement across the country. And it might help the re-election campaign as well. It is clearly an appeal to independents and younger voters and following revelations about rival Mitt Romney’s homophobia, it seems a little too well planned. But what I am confident of is that a generation from now, people will look as strangely at the ones who opposed gay marriage as we do on those who opposed marriages between black and white people a few decades ago.
Whatever the reasons, to my gay brothers and sisters, here’s some love and good wishes. I hope that you also, in time, come to realize the happiness and general misery that marriage alone can bring. Live long, and prosper.