By Kerilyn Acer
After reading the Letter to the Editor from a recent edition of The Rider News, (Traditional marriage, welfare of kids protected by Prop 8, Dec. 5), I was very intrigued. What I had before me was an argument in opposition to gay marriage, based on the foundation that its allowance is not in society’s “best interest.” I am not writing to attack the author of the article, for I feel he did a good job in intelligently laying out his claims and reasoning. But I feel the reasons are insufficient, and the claims are not supported satisfactorily.
What was frightening about the article was that the author dismissed with ease and confidence the possibility of it being a discriminatory act to prohibit gay marriage. By believing that there is a “true and only acceptable form of a family and well-being of children” (I will refer to this as the “Way It Is Argument”), he cannot see how any other elements in the gay marriage issue are as important as preserving this traditional institution.
But it is a fundamental truth, as fundamental as the historical “definition” of marriage, that denying human beings happiness, contentment and freedom to do as they please (within the confines of acting morally) is wrong. It is especially wrong when someone is deprived of these things for the mere sake of upholding the way things have been in the past and because of a fearful unwillingness to allow for evolutionary social change.
I consider the author’s argument to be filled with holes simply because it is rooted in the “Way It Is Argument.” This type of argument is very hard to separate from the arguer’s personal opinions and beliefs, and so to vouch for its legitimacy as a reason to not allow gay marriage is nearly impossible.
At one point in the letter, an example was given to show how homosexuals are not being discriminated against by being denied marriage rights. We were asked to consider “the attempt by two heterosexual men to marry one another for the purpose of bypassing certain property and/or economic laws.” Since it is all right to deny a heterosexual man and woman a marriage license for these reasons, it is also OK to deny a homosexual couple a marriage license. But this is a moot point because marriage is only legal between a heterosexual man and a heterosexual woman — and all other cases automatically fall under the “not legally permissible” category. Although the verdict of Prop 8 upheld this, life has proven time and time again that a black and white outcome used to paintbrush over a question of right or wrong almost never works.
How can anyone be fully confident in claiming there is one “family structure proven to be best for children?” Even a small amount of common sense leads one to raise his or her eyebrow at this, knowing that a positive environment for children is made up of much more than the gender or sexual orientation of their parents. The elements of a successful marriage or raising of children are non-gender specific qualities. I believe this is obvious once you come in contact with just one of the many wonderful children being raised by exceptional parents in homosexual relationships. But many are still doubtful as to whether this kind of relationship is a suitable one for a child’s overall well-being. I believe the only reason this question exists is because, in the past, the recognition of homosexuals as a part of society was far more stifled than it is today. Now that the initiative is being taken to grant them equality in all aspects of life, it is new territory for us all. Some fear these new grounds and cling desperately to things like “laws of early civilizations” and believe that marriage as a “social institution with children at its heart” is somehow threatened. But trepidation has led them to falsely believe that the fight for gay marriage is about overturning old ways, when actually it is only concerned with the creation of freedoms for worthy, equal citizens.
Matrimony is not only an institution that “serves to bring the father into a legal relationship with his offspring,” though it may very well have begun as that. It is far more in today’s society: matrimony is an ultimate profession of an enduring devotion to and love for another human being. It is a lawful contract, but for most people marriage is more importantly an emotional contract. And so it is not hard to understand how insulting it is when the relationship you have devoted yourself to and hold close to your heart is deemed not qualified for this contract. This “noise” being made by gay-rights activists comes from a place of justified frustration. They are sick and tired of the other side not “playing fair” and in the face of their democracy failing to “benefit them” as it promises to, they have chosen to not “admit defeat.”
The author feels it is ironic that some people consider Proposition 8 a step backwards for the nation, but I marvel at the irony in his frustration that prudent citizens like him are “told their opinions do not matter, that their voices aren’t heard and that their votes do not count.” It certainly is a terrible thing to feel like your voice isn’t heard, whether that voice is in support of or opposition to gay marriage.
I admit, in recognition of the concerns and plights of both sides, that the direction in which Proposition 8 has taken the country will remain debatable for some time. It often cannot be clear what is a step forward and what is a step backward, but taking some kind of step certainly avoids the danger of standing still. We have never been a country to falter in the face of progress. Whether those who disagree with the gay rights movement will admit it or not, our nation has come to a crossroads, as we have so many times before. I am confident that, in the end, the path taken will be one that allows for equality to flourish as it should.
Kerilyn Acer is a sophomore voice performance major at Westminster Choir College.