Equal Love Equal Rights

blog picture 2by Liz Salkin

            Growing up, my parents always raised me to accept other people for who they are. I was taught never to judge any other human being differently because I didn’t know what hardship they’ve overcome to get where they are today. I’m incredibly grateful to have been brought up this way because it shaped who I am and what I stand for today. Looking back, I’m also incredibly blessed to have parents who accepted and supported me for who I was; however, not everyone had such rewarding upbringing as I did.

My Uncle Mark has always been, what I would describe as, quirky. He has his own peculiar style with a wide vocabulary to match, and was blessed with the unconventional talent of picking the perfect sweater to match any occasion. It never occurred to me that he might be what others perceive as “different”, because that’s always who he was and he stuck to it; however, my father startled me when he mentioned that he thought my uncle was gay. While shocking, it made sense. The pieces of the puzzle were always there, I just never put them together. After several long discussions, we decided that my uncle, who is most-likely gay, hasn’t told anyone because his parents would be ashamed of who they raised. It pains me that the reason he might not ever bring anyone to Thanksgiving dinner is because that someone might happen to be a man. The thing that irks me isn’t the fact that he’s probably gay and hasn’t told anyone, it’s that he’s afraid to because of what others might think. It horrifies me that my own grandparents raised a child to be scared of embracing who they really are. While I love my grandparents, I am truly ashamed and gutted that I live in a world where this is possible. No parent should ever make a child feel insignificant about themselves. By choosing to bring life into this world, they’ve accepted the responsibility of making it clear to their child that they have the love and support of both their parents no matter who they grow up to become, or who they grow up to love. I wish to bring honor to my Uncle Mark, and anyone who suffers from the same struggles, by raising my children to this standard. My hope for the future is that the United States government legalizes same-sex marriage so that all citizens have the opportunity to love freely and without barriers.

Many opposers of same-sex marriage are still stuck on the one-track mindset of marriage solely needed for the use of procreation. Douglas Allen, a Burnaby Mountain Professor at Simon Fraser University, explains the deeper meaning of the word “marriage” by stating that, “Marriage involves not just a couple, but extended family members, non-blood relations, and impersonal third parties like the church, state, or tribe” (950). To them, the commitment that comes with marriage extends far beyond the loosely based “man and wife” perception that our society preaches. However, where does that leave couples who are deemed infertile? Are they suddenly considered unmarried in our society because they physically cannot have a child? Opposers clearly aren’t factoring in all of the other options available to couples, especially same-sex, looking to start families. In this day and age, we have so much new technology ready at our fingertips it’s almost a crime not to take advantage of it. Nowadays, same-sex partners can use in vitro fertilization, surrogacy, and the most popular; adoption to extend their family. Just because the door for natural procreation has closed for gay couples doesn’t mean that a window of new options hasn’t opened.

Many citizens fail to recognize the possible revenue increase with the legalization of gay marriage. Angeliki Kastanis, M.V. Lee Badgett, and Jody Herman, all Public Policy Fellows at the Williams Institute, did research on how much revenue the state of Washington would gain from same-sex marriage legalization and came up with an almost eight million dollar boost in tax revenue. The tourism industry would bear a large portion of the increased revenue due to out of town family members attending weddings. The planning of weddings alone would generate a near $1.5 billion in spending on flowers, cakes, meals, and other related wedding essentials (Badgett par 2). All those purchases and more create an increase in both state and local economy. In addition, many people assume that the government would lose money by allowing same-sex couples to marry due to tax reductions afforded to married couples. However, after a decade of research, Badgett, director of the Center for Public Policy and Administration at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, confirmed that “the marriage penalty in the federal income tax system… [would] likely [cause] an increase in tax revenue” (par 4).

Most every American understands what the Constitution means by “liberty and justice for all.” Every American deserves equal justice and protection under the law. However, the government refusing to allow marriage between same-sex couples directly violates this phrase, which has been etched in citizen’s minds for generations. In an article written for Huffington Post, Murray Lipp argues that the United States repeatedly promotes freedom and democracy and represents itself as a global leader for these issues; however, “It’s unfortunate and ironic… that… on home soil one particular group of people is consistently denied full access to the ‘American dream’” (par 14). The fact that fifteen other nations have forged ahead of the United States and legalized gay marriage puts into question on whether or not America truly is a melting pot of equal opportunity and rights for all who chose to be citizens. Globally, the United States could restore integrity and strengthen our international reputation by removing all anti-gay discriminatory laws and allowing gay couples everywhere the same rights as everyone else (par. 15).

I believe we as Americans tend to lose sight of the bigger picture in the fight for equality. Marriage is not meant to be given only to those who are legally told they are the superior beings because they associate with a sexuality deemed “morally correct” by society. Marriage is a gift and should be allowed for all those who choose to love. What if the government one day decided to regulate what you as an American wore, how you were able to style your hair, what you can and cannot say, who you can be friends with? How is that any different than being told two people aren’t allowed to love each other because they happen to be the same sex? The concept of love cannot be trapped between four constricting walls labelled “man and wife”. Love is not defined by gender, race, physical or emotional attributes. People are lucky to be able to say they found that special someone in their life and no other being on this Earth should have the capability or power to strip them of that right. As singer/songwriter Macklemore said in his powerful song “Same Love”, “No freedom ‘till we’re equal, damn right I support it.”

Works Cited

Allen, Douglas W. “An Economic Assessment of Same-Sex Marriage Laws.” Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy. 29.3 949-80. Print.

Badgett, M.V. Lee. “The Economic Benefits of Gay Marriage.” The Business Desk. PBS Newshour, 29 Mar 2013. Web. 27 Sep 2013.

Kastanis, Angeliki, M.V. Lee Badgett, and Jody Herman. “The Economic Impact of Extending   Marriage to Same-Sex Couples in Washington State.” the Williams Institute. (2012):      Print.

Lipp, Murray. “7 Ways the U.S.A. Benefits From the Legalization of Gay Marriage.” Huffington Post. N.p., 02 Jun 2013. Web. 14 Oct 2013.

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7 thoughts on “Equal Love Equal Rights

  1. I hadn’t thought about the money aspect of allowing gay marriage, but it makes sense. That’s just another reason to allow it. I can’t believe the government doesn’t see that more. If they did maybe it would be changed sooner. I loved your article, and I myself have family who is gay, who did have to move to a state where this was allowed, but they did it, and I am very glad they did. I hope someday your uncle can open up about this.

  2. I loved your article! I also have a family member who is gay. Luckily everyone in our family and all of her friends support her 100 percent!

  3. I am a Christian and don’t support same-sex marriage in general. However, I do have friends and a family member that are gay, lesbian, or bi, and I am okay with that. I agree that love has no boundaries, but as a personal belief, men and women were meant to be together. I see it as this: a man and woman can naturally have a child (sex) but two men and two women cannot. Therefore, I see it as “outside of the natural boundary.” Despite me saying previously that I don’t support gay marriage, I do support my friends and family member who are gay, lesbian, and bi. I don’t make them an outcast just because of different likes in gender. In other words, I don’t go out of my way to support gay marriage, but I do support those who are close to me. I don’t treat my gay, lesbian, and bi friends and family nor those who I don’t know that are gay, lesbian, or bi, any differently than anyone else. I do want to say that I want everyone to have equal rights when it comes to love and marriage, but do to my beliefs, I think a man and woman should be married, not in any other way.

  4. Very well written article. I believe the story about your uncle Mark has provided you with insight that many have not been shown. The point about the economic benefits of legalizing same-sex marriage was very interesting too, I never thought about that. At this point in my life, marriage is in no way important to me, and while that may change in later years, I believe we shouldn’t restrict it so that it’s only applicable to a specific combination of sexual orientations. Roughly 50% of American marriages end in divorce anyway, so on a funnier note, if same-sex couples want to get married and be unhappy like the 50% of married couples are already, why rob them of that opportunity? :p

  5. Wonderful personal account on your uncle. That really added a lot of credibility to you since you’ve seen the issue up close and personal in your life. I agree with you 100% on the issue. Unfortunately, it is not that easy to legalize gay marriage. As there is some concern on people cheating the system for health insurance purposes and other financial issues. But on the other side of the coin, if someone’s partner that they are not married to ends up horribly sick in the hospital and the partner is not considered “family” they do not have full visitation rights and do not hold the responsibility in making decisions for the ill partner. This is a big deal to me, as the partner who is not considered “family” may know best what the ill partner would want in such a situation as being tragically injured in a car accident and ending up on life support. What a challenge our society faces…well done on your blog entry, it made me contemplate the issue a lot deeper than I really ever had before.

  6. Very well written article. I find it to be very sad that gay marriage is not legal yet, or that there is even a question about it. The fact of the matter is, this country was founded on these words

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed” The Declaration of Independence.

    If someone today said “you can’t be married because of your ethnicity”. There would be a massive outcry. It is actually illegal to deny someone marriage based on ethnicity in the United States. Yet this was a fight at a time in the United States as well. No one can change what color their skin is when they are born, it simply is what it is. We cannot discriminate against race, or gender. There is no difference in the way the law treats these people. Therefore there should be no law discriminating against who someone decides to love.

    People sometimes say that marriage is sacred and should be reserved for a man and a woman right? So therefore a man and a man, or a woman and a woman cannot be married. During segregation people said that marriage was sacred and people of color should not marry white people, that marriage should be reserved to people of color marrying people of color and whites marrying whites. The view people display now is just as shortsighted as the view in the 50’s and 60’s. Every human being is allowed these rights. Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.

    There’s a Meme that I’ve seen multiple times now and it shows two men holding hands and two women holding hands, and the words say “Now tell me again how this affects you”. I believe that many people feel negatively about same sex marriage because it bothers them or scares them. Just like people felt in past generations. That can not be the reason that America steals the rights of its citizens. Macklemore is correct.

    “I might not be the same but that’s not important
    No freedom til we’re equal
    Damn right I support it”

  7. I enjoy reading articles like this. It’s great to know that people support equal rights for humans with a different sexual orientation. I just wish people would open up their eyes and see that gay marriage doesn’t affect anyone but the couple.

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